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Clothes Make The Man

Clothes Make The Man
David Bowie in Chicago, 1983. Photo by Paul Natkin.

by Suzanne Cadgene

Literally millions of people make music—some as expertly as the rich and famous professionals—but the vast majority never become professional musicians. Success* in the music industry results from some combination of talent, drive, hard work and dumb luck. What separates the folks who happily play in their friends’ living rooms from the guys who pack Madison Square Garden, however, may be a more subtle motive than any of these factors, a need that inextricably links Lady Gaga to Bob Dylan.

Virtually all people who choose to be in the public eye for a living are motivated by a personal concoction of “Love me,” “Look at me” or “I want to be somebody,” which, if you fi nish the sentence, means “I want to be somebody else. Somebody richer, happier, more desirable and less invisible than I am now.” The phenomenon is hardly new: Duke Ellington and Count Basie weren’t really royals. Any number of roads can take an individual from where he or she is now to whom they’d like to be, but the most direct routes seem to be appearance and behavior. Pianist and showman Liberace chose both.

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