See original blog posting on Pushing Ahead of the Dame
Comment by Gnomemansland...
I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday is a cover of a cover of a cover – a deliciously circular retelling that achieves through the process a salvation of sorts. Morrissey’s original is all Manchester pathos; the homeboy living with his mother, NME clippings in the top drawer, walking the streets in a second hand overcoat, yearning, hoping for some way out of the place, for an immaculate reconception of self.
At the heart of the song though is failure. When Morrissey sings I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday you know it just isn’t gonna happen, today, or tomorrow, any day or in anyway. Morrissey using Rock N Roll Suicide as a template is singing to himself, or his former self. He has made the great escape but he sings to the mirror Morrissey still stuck in the Manchester bedroom chased home by catcalls from skinheads. It is an all but patronizing pat on the shoulder for his other self’s failure and implicitly in some way our own.
Bowie takes the song and sings through it, back to the original or originals. Back to Rock N Roll Suicide and to every song that inspired that and to all the 50’s faded Vince Taylor inflections and influences that Morrissey so assiduously copied. In doing so he (almost inevitably) overblows it completely. It starts almost where it should end, tortured and tormented, crashing drums, strained vocals. For once in all of the overblown Bowie performances of the 80s and 90s this is perfect and just what is required.
If Morrissey’s I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday is a song to slit your wrists to, Bowie’s is all stomach pump and salvation. His offer of hope is genuine. Maybe this is because Bowie like Morrissey was a star struck teenager who escaped suburbia but in Bowie’s case it was a genuine escape, it took longer but once away he rarely looked back.
Morrissey in contrast for all his elder statesman and recent US chart success is stuck. Endlessly making LPs that sound just like the last. Hiring faceless musicians who sound just like Marr, forever (in his mind) revisiting haunts he has not seen for decades and bemoaning a lost Britain he has long since left. His other self cripples him continuously, Bowie in contrast may not have made a decent new record in years but in some way is free of all of that and his version of I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday is ultimately a validation of that freedom.