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New York City bars: raise a glass to John Cale’s Bowie-inspired single Night Crawling

John Cale and David Bowie go barhopping in an animated new video for Night Crawling, inspired by the Velvet Underground icon’s reminisces about his failed attempts at making music with the narcotic Dame.

The animated video for John Cale’s atmospheric new single depicts him with the long lank hair he sported in the 1970s, swinging through a succession of New York City bars alongside his chemical brother — a perpetually-smoking Bowie in his Thin White Duke togs, a period where he was battling chronic cocaine addiction.

“I can’t even tell when you’re putting me on — we played that game before,” the Welsh wonder sings in his sonorous tenor over treacle thick synthesizers, shimmering piano, and jazzy drums. 

Indeed, the now octogenarian Cale — who will be touring Britain later in 2022 — wrote Night Crawling and played the synths, piano, drums, and bass himself. The only other contributions come from former Mars Volta drummer Deantoni Parks and vocalist Dustin Boyer. It’s their first new music since 2020’s Lazy Day.

Helpfully, JC released a statement giving a bit more background into this somewhat surprising throwback.

It’s been a helluva past 2 years and I’m glad to finally share a glimpse of what’s coming ahead. This is Night Crawling, featuring a video by Mickey Miles.

There was this period around mid-late ’70s when David Bowie and I would run into each other in NY. There was plenty of talk about getting some work done but of course we’d end up running the streets, sometimes until we couldn’t keep a thought in our heads, let alone actually get a song together! 

One night we managed to meet up for a benefit concert where I taught him a viola part so we could perform together. When I wrote Night Crawling, it was a reflective moment of particular times. That kind of NYC that held art in its grip, strong enough to keep it safe and dangerous enough to keep it interesting. 

I always figured we’d have another go at the two of us recording together, this time without the interference of being perpetually off our heads! The thing about creating music is the ability to divine a thought or feeling even when reality says it’s a logical impossibility.

Steve Pafford

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