Discovering David Bowie

On January 10, 2016, David Bowie passed away from cancer. Though I’ve heard the name David Bowie numerous times, I’ve never voluntarily seeked out any of his music. Today, I listened to his song Heroes from his album “Heroes” which was recorded in 1977. This song is definitely very different from my usual taste in music; however, it was really interesting to hear something by a person that most consider to be a musical legend.

 

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be Heroes, just for one day

And you, you can be mean
And I, I’ll drink all the time
‘Cause we’re lovers, and that is a fact
Yes we’re lovers, and that is that

Though nothing, will keep us together
We could steal time,
just for one day
We can be Heroes, for ever and ever
What d’you say?

I, I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim
Though nothing,
nothing will keep us together
We can beat them, for ever and ever
Oh we can be Heroes,
just for one day

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can be Heroes, just for one day
We can be us, just for one day

I, I can remember (I remember)
Standing, by the wall (by the wall)
And the guns shot above our heads
(over our heads)
And we kissed,
as though nothing could fall
(nothing could fall)
And the shame was on the other side
Oh we can beat them, for ever and ever
Then we could be Heroes,
just for one day

We can be Heroes
We can be Heroes
We can be Heroes
Just for one day
We can be Heroes

We’re nothing, and nothing will help us
Maybe we’re lying,
then you better not stay
But we could be safer,
just for one day

Oh-oh-oh-ohh, oh-oh-oh-ohh,
just for one day

What makes this song really stand out to me is how soothing and yet pump-up the background instrumentals are. This music creates a certain vibe to the song that is very different than any other song I have listened to. Also, at first I would categorize this song as a love song since in the lyrics say “I will be the king” and ” you will be the queen.” In other words, two people are paired perfectly as “king” and “queen” to make a couple. However, as the song continues the lyrics reveal a deeper storyline to what I originally had thought to be just about two people as a couple.

The repetitive lyrics of “we can be heroes just for one day” are what change the dynamic of the song about two lovers. The part that really stood out to me and confused me were “Standing, by the wall (by the wall), And the guns shot above our heads.” After a little bit of googling, I realized that the wall in this song references the Berlin Wall. David Bowie explained that this song was about two lovers meeting under the Berlin Wall. Though this song is about two lovers, clearly, it’s much more complex than a lighthearted type of love. In fact, this story in the song was written about David Bowie’s producer, Tony Visconti. A lot of the lyrics make a lot more sense when you realize that Tony Visconti had been married at the time, and this song was essentially about his affair with a German girl, backup singer, Antonia Maass.

Overall, my thoughts about David Bowie’s music is that I would describe it as eclectic. That may be a result of my lack of previous knowledge and interest in his music. I wouldn’t say that I hate his music, but I don’t think I’ve become a huge fan overnight either. I do know that David Bowie’s music is surely unique, and that he will be one artist that is very much missed by many.

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