Even “a man lost in time” with a sonic arsenal as timeless as that of David Bowie must have an age attached to him. Today, his ticks over from 65 to 66 and to celebrate in that most communal fashion thinkable, The Thin White Duke this morning gifted us his first single in over a decade in the ruminative form and as yet exclusively digital format of Where Are We Now?
The answer to where he was then, with this then being the time of the song’s conception, is evidently Berlin: comprising references to trains from Potsdamer Platz, immobilised Nürnberger Straße cocktail bar Dschungel and Europe’s second largest department store Kaufhaus des Westens, he’s evidently been swatting up whilst stalking the streets of the German capital. Though as the slo-mo prog musical trundles along in the backdrop like a stringently efficient chugger through impenetrable smog, it’s his more introspective turns lyrical which give a perhaps more intriguing indication of what this seemingly more pensive Brixton squire may have scribed for The Next Day, the forthcoming full-length from which the single is lifted. Whilst his geographical pinpointing is scrupulously precise, his droll and soothingly monotonous utterances are otherwise vague: as he repeatedly croons of “just walking the dead”, the effect is altogether nebulous and ultimately spectral. It’s as though Bowie is walking from point to point unsighted – an Englishman in Berlin guiding as he goes with his inquisition seemingly concerning the lack of refined identity in these modern times. Though as the dirgeful lament approaches its final destination at a smidgen over four thirty, it’s as though a faintly surreptitious message emerges:
“twenty thousand people/ Cross Bose Brucke/ Fingers are CROSSED/ just in case”
Another unassuming, though strangely effectual chorus ensues, and he then continues:
“as long as there’s SUN/ as long as there’s RAIN/ as long as there’s FIRE/ as long as there’s ME/ as long as there’s YOU”
In all probability this is an inkling spawned of nothing but heinously wishful thinking, but could this maybe, just maybe, serve as a portent of a Glastonbury headlining turn to come? Interchange Bose Brucke for Worthy Farm, throw in another 100,000 to add to the 20,000 there already congregated and it becomes possible, if not exactly probable. Though the above finale, too, would appear to fit: the weather is renowned for being somewhat… temperamental shall we say across that particular June weekend, so SUN and RAIN are both plausible meteorological settings, whilst there’s always FIRE breathed down Shangri-la, floated skyward from the Stone Circle, and ejaculated high up above the entirety of Somerset come the finale of uncountable pyromaniacal Pyramid Stage blowouts.
Fingers are indeed now CROSSED, David, and I for one am holding out for Heroes.
The Next Day is slated for a March 12th release via Iso/ Columbia.