1974 – Sweet Thing, David Bowie

Second Dive – ‘When it’s good, it’s really good’

In the mid to late seventies I was married to my first wife and living in a tiny little cottage at the top of a hill in Lancaster, an area called Golgotha Village.


Golgotha Village. The tiny house towards the right was ours

I was going through a tough time; anxiety, panic attacks, drinking too much (far too much). There was a pub in Lancaster called The Farmer’s Arms run by a couple called Eddie and Peggy where the local misfits, tokers and bikers used to congregate and I spent a lot of time there. My habit was to drink too much, smoke too much then sit at home listening to music, usually on headphones as the house was so small that it was impossible to listen over speakers without bringing the neighbours knocking on the door and complaining. I’ve just remembered that I had my stereo housed in an old upright 78rpm cabinet, with the record deck where the 78 deck would have been and the amplifier and tuner etc. in the bit below where the doors are. I thought it was really cool as, when it was all closed up it just looked like an antique record cabinet.

Anyway, one of the albums I listened to constantly was Diamond Dogs and, in particular, the track ‘Sweet Thing’. It seemed to echo the way I was feeling much of the time.
We had a friend called Dave (Devo) who visited us regularly on his Triumph Bonneville to help us roll cigarettes and listen to music. One day we were listening to ‘Sweet Thing’ when he suddenly said;
“The lyrics are wrong, it’s not ‘When it’s good it’s really good and when it’s bad I go to pieces’, it’s ‘When it’s good it’s really good and when it’s bad I go to’t Farmer’s’.
Not a great joke in itself but what he was really commenting on was the fact that I was pretty much falling to pieces and that alcohol was the way I was dealing with my breakdown. Not longer after this my wife divorced me; thank god she didn’t stay around for more misery and heartbreak. I lost touch with Devo and wonder what he’s up to now; whether he’s still riding around on his beloved Bonneville or, like the rest of us, settled down and become normal.
I still listen to Diamond Dogs occasionally and still think it’s one of Bowie’s better albums. Sweet Thing is still a great track but I’m not going to pieces now and haven’t been in the Farmer’s Arms for probably thirty years.
I wonder what happened to the 78 cabinet. It might be worth a bit of money now.

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