« | Home | »

Back to Berlin

Tags: |

David Bowie fans are beside themselves (oh all right, ourselves) with delight at yesterday’s surprise release of ‘Where Are We Now?’ It’s his first new song in ten years, all the papers are saying, though that’s to overlook the mean and jaunty ditty about Ricky Gervais from the second season of Extras (2006): ‘He’s got no style, he’s got no grace, he’s banal and facile, he’s a fat waste of space. Yeah yeah. Everybody sing that last line.’ Fans’ judgments aren’t exactly trustworthy – the internet’s still swarming with people who bafflingly regret Bowie’s non-appearance at the Olympics opening ceremony – but by this late stage in his career (which until yesterday, his 66th birthday, was widely believed to be probably over), who else is the song for? The fact of its being by Bowie is what mostly counts.

It’s a nicely put together ballad, sad and lush, that could plausibly have come out of the sessions for 2002’s Heathen. It’s full of musical quotations from and allusions to earlier work, and the lyrics directly recall Bowie’s late 1970s Berlin period: ‘Had to get the train from Potsdamer Platz,’ it begins – or, as Tony Oursler’s mesmerising video has it, ‘Potzdamer’. There’s been no end of fevered speculation about what various elements of the video may mean. Who’s Bowie’s sock-puppet Siamese twin? Where (and when) were the shots of Berlin taken? What’s with all the dogs? And what’s that ‘m/s Song of Norway’ T-shirt about? But what I want to know is who plays the guitar in the coda, with its tantalising echoes of Robert Fripp’s playing on ‘Heroes’. Fripp announced last year that he had retired from the music business. But then they said that about David Bowie too.

Comments

  1. Wikipedia says – without giving a source – that Earl Slick plays on the album. Earl Slick’s Twitter feed seems to hint that too. (And he seems to like delay pedals.)

  2. Simon Wood says:

    I’m getting “The Waste Land”, Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song”, “Imagine” and some of the mist from “Mull of Kintyre.”


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • Timothy Rogers on Fifa v. the FBI: What stake the US has in the ongoing tragicomedy of the FiFa World-Cup selection process is unclear. There is still no mass market for the sport in t...
    • Timothy Rogers on One Cubit the More: Yes, the talk (or essay) was a deliberative, thoughtful one. The cubit is used as a quantitative measure to indicate the amount of scientific knowled...
    • AndrewL on One Cubit the More: Thank you for the link, Timothy. I must admit, I had naively assumed it would be a "shoulders of giants" talk too, but it is so much better than that...
    • Timothy Rogers on One Cubit the More: Here is the link to the talk, which was published in the August 1963 issue of Encounter. It is really about intellectual modesty and clarity about ou...
    • AndrewL on One Cubit the More: In case anyone else is looking for the original Bible verse, as I was, I think it is Matthew 6:27: "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit t...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

Advertisement
Advertisement