Music

On My Turntable: David Bowie – “Where Are We Now?”

bowie grey boxThe last thing I expected to wake up to this morning was a new David Bowie single.  The Dame has been in musical seclusion since 2003’s Reality, and frankly I’d accepted that all we were going to get from now on were endless reissues of his catalog.  But no, the old guy still has at least one more in him.

“Where Are We Now,” released on Bowie’s 66th birthday, is the first single from the upcoming The Next Day (rel: March 8-12, 2013).  It’s a lovely little song that Bowiephiles already are trying to solve like something out of a Dan Brown novel.  I’d rather not read too much into it and simply enjoy a bittersweet walk through Berlin with my best friend I’ll never meet.  Here he  is a “man lost in time” taking the train from the dead center of Berlin to a disco that has been shuttered for twenty years.  “You never knew that I could do that,” he says,  presumably to a lost friend or romance.  He’s right — I’ve never imagined Bowie navigating public transit.

“Walking the dead,” he repeats throughout the song, a dismissive phrase almost like Vonnegut’s “so it goes.”  One feels the loneliness and melancholy of an older man reflecting on a past that to him doesn’t seem that long ago.  He really is lost in time, walking 20,000 people across the Bornholmer Strasse Checkpoint separating East and West Berlin, a division that hasn’t existed for over twenty years.

Bowie’s voice sounds thin and tired, which it probably is, but it suits the material perfectly.   “Where Are We Now” raises more questions than it answers.  Will The Next Day be a nostalgia soaked valedictory?  We’ll see.

Take a listen for yourself on Vimeo.

Categories: Music, Review

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5 replies »

  1. I must admit that I was a bit shocked to hear that he had released some new material, but its slowly growing on me and I’d certainly be interested to see how the album turns out. Too many people will try and as you put it “solve a dan brown” industry, I for one will just be listening to the music and enjoying it.

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  2. Absolutely brilliant song.
    Bowie was a great influence during my teenage years. I can remember songs like ‘Rebel Rebel’, ‘Jean Genie’, ‘Drive In Saturday’ and ‘Life on Mars’ coming out for the first time. It was an amazing time to be young. I feel sorry for the kids today who are stuck with One Direction and some X Factor one hit wonder.

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