What’s in a song?: David Bowie – Strangers When We Meet

I’m going to level with you, I’m really not feeling very well. Weeks of stress and worry have finally caught up with me and my energy has collapsed through the floor. Well, either that or I picked something up at the Primary School I was subbing at. All those maniacal kids screaming and laughing, spreading my future misery like butter. Regardless, all that matters is that my head isn’t in the game for detailed discussion so don’t expect damascene miracles come the end of this blog. I just literally want to play you a song I love. Just as all I crave right now is severe comfort food, so all I wish to talk about is comfort music. That music we turn to at our lowest because we know it will support our needs. Music that we know so, so well because we’ve heard it every which way without killing it. Humour my man-flu; here is some Bowie.

With the news that Bowie is set to release another album next year (called Blackstar) I feel now is as good a time as any to get you all listening to the lost genius of his 90s period. Don’t think that this means I’m not excited about Blackstar, because I am. I just doubt that it will reach the creative (and utterly pretentious) highs of 1995’s 1.Outside with it’s dark and disturbing narrative wrapped around industrial soundscapes and aggressive pop. It’s an epic, trying and exhausting listen, taking you to places that you really don’t want to be (the Ramona A. Stone sequence is particularly unsettling). But persevere and you are rewarded with one of the most affirming payoffs since A Day In The Life; for after all the noise and pain Bowie hits us with sheer ballad perfection. Strangers When We Meet. I really want to write more. I really do. But I am fading into it’s safe embrace. There’s something about the detached way Bowie sings that makes him vulnerable and approachable, like a friend sifting through the wreckage of a failed relationship. He’s not some unapproachable phantom, he’s a human like me. Broken, flawed but positive and strong.

This was Bowie’s second stab at the song, it initially appeared on his soundtrack to the TV adaptation of Buddha of Suburbia. That version isn’t so good, it’s more poppy and overtly feel-good. The 1.Outside version is considerably better. It has pain and sadness and a warmth because of it. I’m now going to envelop myself in a blanket and drink some soup. Until next time.

Click here to read some more Bowie related musings

Or you can click here to read about Brian Eno, because why not?
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