Tumbling Down - Cockney Rebel (1974)
I was 18 years old when I first heard this song.
That was 13 years ago but I still remember what it was like, sitting in a dark movie theater in Richmond, VA , watching Velvet Goldmine for the first time.
Today's track played in the part of the story where everything literally was doing what the title said. Brian Slade (eh hem, David Bowie) had faked his own death and pissed off his fans. Like other moments in this hideously underrated film, the action was described in the vise of a music video.
I don't think any opening line to a song has ever grabbed me the way " Gee, but it's hard/When one lowers one's guard/ To the vultures." did. I sat bolt upright in my chair, my mind's eye recording every rhyming couplet to memory as they spilled from Jonathan Rhys Meyers' lips. I had to have this song in my collection.
Luckily the much missed music chain Tower Records was located right beside the cinema and the film's soundtrack was promptly purchased on the money my parents placed into my bank account every other week. After getting the disc home, I saw that the track was written by one Steve Harley, who I promptly searched for on allmusic.com. His greatest hits was also purchased on the money my parents gave me for food from the now defunct CDNOW (Amazon just sold books back then.) In the excitement of the discovery of such a great song I failed to realize Mr. Harley had two more songs on the soundtrack. "Make Me Smile" made the album but "Sebastian" would be only truly heard when the Cockney Rebel's greatest hits platter arrived in the mail. Both are flawless, as are most of Harley's work from the 70's.
But "Tumbling Down" can still give me chills with its effortless fantastical poetry, especially in the harrowing ending section's pain of seeing what they've done with the blues, blues, blues.
There's a lot of music I discovered when I was 18 that I've kept with me, but none like this.