Hear Strung Out in Heaven, a Gorgeous Tribute to David Bowie by Amanda Palmer & Jherek Bischoff’s, Made with Help from Neil Gaiman

Strung Out in Heaven

The last four weeks have seen thou­sands of trib­utes to rock­er David Bowie.

Strung Out In Heav­en: A Bowie String Quar­tet Trib­ute by Aman­da Palmer and her The­atre is Evil col­lab­o­ra­tor, pop poly­math Jherek Bischoff, is both gor­geous and ambi­tious.

It came togeth­er quick­ly. Bischoff arranged the album’s five tracks and spent three and a half hours record­ing the strings (Ser­e­na McK­in­ney and Alyssa Park​ on vio­lin, Ben Ullery​ on vio­la, and Jacob Braun on cel­lo).

Mean­while new moth­er Palmer lined up three days worth of babysit­ting in order to dive back into the stu­dio. She also tapped some famous friends, who con­tributed in small­er ways.

The record­ing, coor­di­na­tion, guest appear­ances… and babysit­ting were financed by a stock­pile from Palmer’s 7000-some sup­port­ers on the crowd­fund­ing site Patre­on.

It doesn’t sound like a whip out.

Here’s Palmer’s hus­band, author Neil Gaiman, count­ing down to lift-off on “Space Odd­i­ty:

And writer/director John Cameron Mitchell, who record­ed the “Heroes” call and response on an iPhone in his apart­ment…

…and chan­neled Hed­wig for the Ger­man ver­sion:

Gaiman ques­tioned Palmer’s choice to lead with the title track of Bowie’s final album, but as she told New Musi­cal Express, a lot of fresh­ly mint­ed mil­len­ni­al Bowie fans among her Patre­on sup­port­ers list­ed “Black­star” as a favorite. Singer Anna Calvi duets and plays gui­tar on this stripped down ver­sion:

Each tune is matched to a Bowie-cen­tric image by a visu­al artist. On Palmer’s Patre­on blog,“Blackstar” artist, ele­men­tary school teacher, and can­cer sur­vivor Cas­san­dra Long writes about dis­cussing Bowie’s death with a room­ful of kinder­garten­ers. Palmer plans to pro­vide a sim­i­lar plat­form to the oth­er par­tic­i­pat­ing artists in the days to come.

The fin­ished prod­uct is both pro­fes­sion­al and a labor of love.

Music is the bind­ing agent of our mun­dane lives. It cements the moments in which we wash the dish­es, type the resumes, go to the funer­als, have the babies. The stronger the agent, the tougher the mem­o­ry, and Bowie was NASA-grade epoxy to a sprawl­ing span of freaked-out kids over three gen­er­a­tions. He bond­ed us to our weird selves…Bowie worked on music up to the end to give us a part­ing gift. So this is how we, as musi­cians, mourn: keep­ing Bowie con­stant­ly in our ears and brains. 

 — Aman­da Palmer

The com­plete track­list is below. You can lis­ten for free, but an ante-up will help Palmer cov­er 9¢ in licens­ing fees every time one of the songs is streamed. Any left­over pro­ceeds from sales through March 5th will be donat­ed to Tufts Med­ical Cen­ter’s can­cer research wing in mem­o­ry of David Bowie.

Strung Out in Heav­en:

01 “Black­star”  fea­tur­ing Anna Calvi

02 “Space Odd­i­ty” fea­tur­ing Neil Gaiman

03 “Ash­es to Ash­es”

04 “Heroes” fea­tur­ing John Cameron Mitchell

05 Helden” fea­tur­ing  John Cameron Mitchell

06 “Life on Mars?”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Bowie Gives Grad­u­a­tion Speech At Berklee Col­lege of Music: “Music Has Been My Door­way of Per­cep­tion” (1999)

David Bowie (RIP) Sings “Changes” in His Last Live Per­for­mance, 2006

Aman­da Palmer Ani­mates & Nar­rates Hus­band Neil Gaiman’s Uncon­scious Mus­ings

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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