We’ll Creep Together

ah-HAH

We’ll Creep Together.
We’ll Creep Together (studio performance, Outside Electronic Press Kit, 1995).
We’ll Creep Together (alternate “Garson” version, part of “Inside” sequence).

An old man totters out upon the balcony. He hears the crowd well before he sees them. When he reaches the railing, he looks down upon the masses pooled in the streets below. Lit by torches, kerosene lamps, cigarette lighters and glow-sticks, the crowd is a wide, soughing sea, extending outward in great rivers of people, well past the gutted skyscrapers, past the Church of Dogs, beyond the calamity tents and mechanoid farms, perhaps as far as the harbor. It’s a warm night and the air clings to the skin, but the man, who wears his last silk suit (which has frayed at the cuffs and which has gone threadbare in places) is too proud, and too dessicated, to break a sweat. He sees children, borne in their mothers arms, with their ears pierced by thick chrome bolts. Men wear superhero masks, women dress in drag. A ball, or no, actually a severed head, is tossed around.

The man is, perhaps, a British Marshal Pétain. Or some last remnant of some fallen order (he’s a parallel to the gumshoe Nathan Adler—it’s another dying 20th Century voice, here the refined, decayed hauteur once associated with Merchant-Ivory films and Noel Coward records), one who’s revered by those who seethe happily below him. He is their last grandparent, and he has his duties. His aide, who has a thin pewter rod that links his left earlobe with his left nostril, carries out the microphone stand. The man gathers breath from whatever pockets of it remain within him and speaks, his words echoing from the set of speakers, supported by hemp ropes, that are suspended over the crowd.

Friends….of the trust. You’ve been a breath-filled crowd tonight. A fine start. Cheers, bottles raised to him. A happy fistfight breaks out near the base of the building.

You’ve been positively…fly, boys. This condescension is a real hit—there are screams and hoots, bursts of applause, and the severed head is hurled into the air so high that the man wonders if it will hit one of the speakers. He forces a smile, leans into the microphone as if the wind is picking up.

We are surely on our way! Upon that superhighway of information. A slight dip in enthusiasm, some mutters. The man quickly recovers.

As far as I’m concerned, you are all number one packet sniffers! Screams, wails, guns fired, chains rattled, the head again sent aloft, as if its hurler hopes it to achieve orbit. And now, to bring it all home.

The man raises a hand, makes a slight bow, stiffly sweeps his arm across his chest, then swings it back upward, shakily setting a tempo. A cough, and he urges the song out of his lungs. It’s the last song in the world. We’ll creep together, you and I….under a bloodless chrome sky…

Or, if you’d like:

One of the more intriguing Leon fragments, “We’ll Creep Together” was part of the middle section of the “Leon Takes Us Outside” suite, directly following “I’d Rather Be Chrome.” There are two circulating versions: the “Leon Takes” version, which is prefaced by Bowie’s “packet sniffers” speech and which is built on a loop of keyboard chords, and a slower, “jazz” version that was part of the “I Am With Name” suite, with Bowie sounding as though he’s free-styling over Mike Garson’s manic piano improvisations.

Recorded May-November 1994, Mountain Studios, Montreux, with overdubs later in the year at Westside Studios, London (and possibly in New York, ca. January-March 1995). Two minutes of video footage of Bowie singing the “packet sniffer” version of “We’ll Creep Together” was released in September 1995 as part of Outside‘s “Electronic Press Kit.” (see above).

Top: Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) hosts Knowing Me, Knowing You in Paris, 1994.

16 Responses to We’ll Creep Together

  1. david says:

    Part of the joy of this album, and DD and ZS before it, is that it invites the listener to fill in the blanks with their own narrative, creating an innumerable number of universes and characterisation’s.
    I think you have proved that with this really superb entry-and they say there is a book in everyone, and I think you should perhaps think about flexing your fictional elbow after Dame duties. Great stuff.

  2. Mr Tagomi says:

    I’m starting to really ‘get’ the outtakes now thanks to these entries. That jazzy version of the song has always stood out for me, and now I like it even more.

  3. gcreptile says:

    The outtakes really sound like a different album altogether. I can see what they were going to do with them: an hour or more of continuous “music” with songs almost accidentally starting and ending, connected through atmospherics and monologues. It’s a bit like…opera, industrial opera. But that kind of album would have been utterly uncommercial. And Bowie, faced with such a decision, always went down the commercial road. How did you say it? “WIth Bowie, there was always a little too much melody/sound/voice.”

  4. Pinstripe Hourglass says:

    It sounds like Noel Coward from Hell. It’s a disturbing listen but like other things from this period it’s the most joy I’ve gotten from a Bowie song since Let’s Dance, probably. Being relevant, experimenting again, he’s at his free-est here and it’s brilliant to listen to.

    Oh, and good to see you all again. I’ve not been here for quite some time while I took dealt with some personal business.

  5. Momus says:

    I think I’ve been in the wrong listening mode for these outtakes. I’ve been in “pop listening mode”, and they make rubbish pop songs because they just ooze and spill and don’t have the exciting transitions which pop songs have (verse to chorus, chorus to bridge, bridge to solo…), and which have to be written.

    There’s another listening mode for avant garde improvisation, in which the main satisfaction consists in sharing the performers’ pleasure in their freedom, and sharing an experience of being in a unique moment together. And if you listen to the outtakes in that mode, they make a lot more sense. There is an intoxicating sense of artistic freedom in them.

    I feel a bit like one of the archeologists in this dialogue from the Electronic Press Kit:

    ENO: I was just thinking, wouldn’t it be incredibly brave to say, “Okay, that’s…”
    BOWIE: “That’s it.
    ENO: As if we all died, and somebody had to make something of that.
    BOWIE: Yes.
    ENO: If it’s the last thing we did, we’ve got to make it into something great. Now what would you do if that was the problem? Like, our other selves have all died, and now we’re a bunch of young music archeologists who’ve just discovered these tapes.
    BOWIE: Good.

    ARCHEOLOGIST (some decades later): Well, this was an odd civilisation!

  6. Remco says:

    Your reference to Twin Peaks in the previous post probably jump started this association but this reminds of the wonderful Little Jimmy Scott singing “Under The Sycamore Trees” in the last episode of Twin Peaks. Just wanted to share that with you.
    Oh, and I love the word ‘packet sniffer’

  7. Maj says:

    We Creep Together is very interesting. Too bad it didn’t end up on the album. I know the title for some reason but never actually heard it. Also thanks for the links!

    I know many here would disagree but I’d really prefer a Leon, full of stuff like this, and an Outside, with stuff that was more obviously songs.

    I’ve dug out my Outside stuff. Surprised to find a postcard pack and a printed out CD booklet-sized fragments of the Adler diary in two parts. Why on earth did they make this (esp. since the fragments are already in the tour programme)?
    And I also apparently own a Japanese edition of the album, complete with a small poster. All very cute. The stuff you find if you have a shitty memory…O.o
    I do remember getting the tour programme thingy. Kind of hard to forget or overlook.
    I have to say I really like the look of this era, just as I seem to have a soft spot for the Scary Monsters era look (artwork etc). I must have bought all this stuff because I liked the way it looked. Magpie. The cover of the tour programme especially is very nifty.

    Sadly Earthling went all shallow. All hard edges and screams. But the McQueen jacket was nice. I loved McQueen’s designs and even after his death the house still carries on his aesthetics. If I had money I’d wear his gowns all the time. Sorry…totally digressed.

  8. A good read. It’s quite nice seeing someone attempt to throw some context into these recordings. I especially liked the idea of this character being a ‘dying 20th century voice’ as you put it.

    I think Bowie really wanted to bring the listener into the Outside world with him. The visuals he evokes in the outtakes (and to a large extent, the final album) seem to often be more important than the plot itself.

    Incidentally, I found myself singing this song while making dinner last night. “Wayyyy back in the Laugh Hoteeeellllll”. I dread to think what my flatmates think about me.

  9. diamond dog says:

    Interesting fragments of a lost project. ..much like pete townshends lifehouse it was sunk under its own weight of pretense. When we did finally get lifehouse it was very under whelming after all the mythologising and the storyline was hardly original. Im listening to 1outside and the final album is a compromise and are far more straight rock and bear little resemblence to the blurb at the time.
    The outtakes are interesting and point to a much more freeform style glimpsed only on a few tracks on the finished product. It gives us the impression that for all the hype and promise bowie got bored and moved on to the next project.

  10. Steve says:

    Together, track and post reminded me of Ian McKellen as Richard III:

  11. Diamond Duke says:

    Not my favorite Leon piece. I much prefer OK Riot/I’d Rather Be Chrome. But I certainly appreciate the audacious strangeness of it. And I think Chris has a very imaginative, disturbing take on the material.

  12. Maj says:

    Re: Where Are We Now?

    Can’t believe none of us have noticed. Especially those who say he should’ve ended his career with Little Fat Man. ;)

    • algeriatouchshriek says:

      Ho Ho. Dare I mention that W.A.W.N crashed out of the UK Top $0 yestrday after a single week? It fell from Number 6 to Number 41. Is a 35 place fall some kind of record?

      • Maj says:

        I think it’s quite normal for artists with faithful fanbases who are otherwise not mainstream commercial. Let’s face it, the fact that it got to no. 6 is far more surprising than that it’s now on 41. It is a no. 41 kind of song.

  13. Sounds like he’s channeling Thatcher to me!

  14. And on the basis of the Electronic Press Kit video, Eno was channelling Terry Nutkins. (Sorry, joke for the Brits there)

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