Sunday (Visconti mix).
Sunday (Moby remix).
Sunday (live, Meltdown Festival, 2002).
Sunday (live, 2002).
Sunday (live, 2003).
Sunday (live, 2004).
Sunday (live, 2004).

It’s long been Bowie’s habit to rewrite his albums in the press once he’s made them. The Ziggy Stardust “storyline” wasn’t cooked up until 1973, when Bowie described it to William S. Burroughs. So in 2002, a year after having composed the songs on Heathen, Bowie began giving them a narrative structure. Some of Heathen was his version of Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs, or so he claimed.

There’s a certain sense of universality in those songs that Strauss wrote at the end of his life when he was 84…they’re the most terribly romantic, sad, poignant pieces that I think have ever been written,” he told Interview in 2002. “I kind of used them as a template.” (His preferred recording was Gundula Janowitz‘s performance (with Herbert von Karajan, 1973), which he described as “ach[ing] with love for a life that is quietly fading.”)

His own Four Last Songs were the album’s bookends, “Sunday” and “Heathen (The Rays),” and two mid-sequenced songs, “5:15 The Angels Have Gone” and “I Would Be Your Slave.” These were end-of-life musings, thoughts on death, parceled regrets, “hard questions.” He’d reached the point, he told Interview‘s Ingrid Sischy, where he felt was no longer growing. “Especially in one’s mid-fifties, you’re very aware that that’s the moment you have to leave off the idea of being young. You’ve got to let it go.” In another interview he said mid-life was a time of no longer becoming, but simply being.

For a man who’d staked his life on continually becoming, wasn’t this state essentially death? Bowie’s Four Last Songs are barren landscapes, a set of departure lounges, wings of abandoned houses, empty train stations, beaches without footprints.


Of course, the grand old man persona of Heathen was as much a fictive personality as Ziggy Stardust had been. Recall that Bowie was only 54—an age when things start to get creaky and the weight of memory is more of a burden, but generally an age still fat in the middle of life. There’s far more pain, loss, resignation, bewilderment and brutal aging to come (my dear acerbic great-aunt, at age 80 or so, once sighed wistfully to me: “ah, to be 50 again!”).

Bowie was playing with our perception of how pop stars age in dog years: if you’ve been kicking around for 20 years (or nearly 40, in his case) in pop music, you might as well be Methuselah. So if the world saw him as an old man, he’d play the old man: someone so bogged with life that he can barely move.


Richard Strauss was a true old man, one who’d lived too long.

American soldiers driving through Bavaria days after Hitler’s death, looking for a house to commandeer as a base of operations, came upon a stately villa in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. An ancient man strode from the front door, announced he was Richard Strauss, composer of Der Rosenkavalier and Salome, and told them to leave. Kind fate allotted one of the soldiers to be a classical musician, who gave Strauss the cover of deference and defused any chance that Strauss would’ve been hauled into a collaborators’ prison. Soon enough, troops had spilled into Strauss’ villa, asking “Hey Maestro! Who’s this guy?” when seeing a bust of Beethoven. Classical Germany fell to gum-cracking Americans at last.

By now, the 20th Century seemed a colossal joke to Strauss. Born in 1864 in a Bavaria still ruled by its mad emperor, Strauss lived through Bavaria’s absorption into grey Prussia to form Germany, the whirling spree of Kaiser Wilhelm’s lost empire, four years of catastrophic war, Germany’s subsequent fall into fascism, genocide and thuggery (which Strauss, to his great discredit, partly condoned), another horrific war and now, in 1945, utter defeat. He would even see the carving up of Germany into capitalist and Communist halves. “I have outlived even myself,” he said in 1949, upon which he finally died.

Strauss didn’t intend his Four Last Songs as a last statement: the title wasn’t his, for one thing. In 1948 Strauss scored three Hermann Hesse poems and one by Joseph von Eichendorff. Only after his death, when the four songs were grouped as a single work and re-sequenced by Ernst Roth, did the songs become his Four Last.* But the songs obviously shared a sense of reminiscence (they were scored for soprano, as if Strauss was writing songs for the memory of his wife’s singing voice) and cyclicality: in one, he quoted from a tone poem of his youth, Tod und Verklärung.

And as much as the songs spoke of resignation, death and transformation, there was a thick vein of defiance in the music. Their beauty could be smothering (Hesse, hearing Strauss’ adaptations of his poems, said they “were full of well-crafted beauty but lacking in core, merely an end to themselves.”), their vocal lines cathedrals to a woman’s voice, their brass-and strings orchestration that of a royal court. The songs proposed that the mad century had never happened: it was Strauss willing away history in the last of his music.  The Songswere so potent as to render the idea of relevance irrelevant,” Alex Ross wrote in 1999. “They destroyed, single-handedly, the modernist imperative of progress—the notion that music must always be made new. Strauss, in fact, had gone neither forward nor backward…A progressive had become a reactionary by standing absolutely still.


Bowie was looking out a window of Allaire Studios early one July morning in 2001, drinking his first cup of coffee. He saw two deer grazing on the mountainside and beyond them, a car slowly passing along the Ashokan Reservoir to the south. “There was something so still and primal about what I was looking at outside,” he recalled. He began to weep, began to write.

What had the image triggered? Not simply the idea of a depeopled world, one left to the deer and the crows to forage. The man or woman in the car was part of it. Were they, for a moment, in harmony with the plants and animals, or were they in the usual role of oblivious despoiler? Or did the view suggest how the world’s oblivious to our comings and goings? We depart from life one morning and the animals take no notice, the sun keeps on its paces. The slight absurdity of a man in a luxurious recording studio built in a plutocrat’s mansion weeping over the thought.

“Sunday” begins on a remote E-flat minor chord, and over a long, looping vine of a verse it tentatively grounds itself in A-flat minor. There are few voices at first: a treated guitar playing the same birdsong figure again and again; the occasional bass note, like a man quietly sounding the depth of a wall; a bed of voices to cushion the lead vocal and establish the chords, rising and ebbing in volume with each loop (the vocals were mainly Tony Visconti, who taught himself to sing “two notes at once after singing Tuvan and Mongolian music”).

The lead voice could be a man who’s survived an apocalypse, offering instructions to fellow foragers. Watch out for drifters and cars (an echo of the Mekons’ “Trouble Down South,” with its England as an American war zone: look out for wires…stay underground). It’s equally the voice of an animal, one making its way through a world ruled by indifferent nature and malicious homo sapiens. Watch for shafts of light on the road: they mean death. Crawl under the bracken for safety.** Run when the rain lessens. Follow the sun (where the heat goes). Man and animal are no different. The world is no place for either of them. A song from decades before plays in an empty room: when the rich die last, like the rabbits running...


Yet just as “Sunday” seems lost in its meander of a verse, the song gathers force. There’s movement. An elevation to F minor; the guitar is loosed from its trap; a bass drum pattern sets a floor. A paradoxical declaration: nothing has changed, everything has changed, so everything is nothing? “Nothing” is an active force: it has a beginning, it remains, it’s mutable.

The song becomes a chant. A mantra chorus of Bowie and Visconti voices is mixed right (“in your fear seek only peace…in your fear, seek only love”) while mixed left is Bowie’s lead vocal, in grand Scott Walker register, offering hints of resurrection—burning in the pyre, rising through the air, off to do it again. The associations with the fires and the smoke of the World Trade Center were unintentional, Bowie said: he’d written the lines before the attack (though he crafted the track in the studio in the months afterward). At 3:09 the track skips, resets itself.

Something has changed, though. The second verse is shorter, Bowie’s voice now harried by an electronic drum pattern. This is the trip (a lifetime), this the business we take (our souls, our baggage of dreams and fears). Then another ghost: Hush little baby, don’t you cry. You know your mother was born to die. It’s the refrain of the folkie standard of the Sixties, “All My Trials,” as sung by Joan Baez and Dave van Ronk and Nick Drake, and maybe even Bowie himself on stage with John Hutchinson and Hermione Farthingale in 1968. All my trials, Lord, soon be over.*** This world’s spent out: I’m going home. But Bowie sings that his trials will be remembered (by who?): he’s still in love with the world he’s leaving. Strauss would have approved.

His last word is a last defiance, Bowie hanging onto “chaaaaaanged” as long as he can while Matt Chamberlain roars in, brutally chastising his snare drum. Visconti’s bass is a jungle line. On stage, Bowie let his guitarists play “Sunday” out for minutes, letting his audience bask in the triumph, but on the studio version the heroics get faded out quickly, the rebirth hardly mattering. Sunday may be a day of resurrection, but night falls without fail on it.

Recorded: (basic tracks, vocals) August-September 2001, Allaire Studios, Shokan, New York; (overdubs) October 2001-January 2002, Looking Glass Studios, NYC. Released 10 June 2002 on Heathen. There were alternate mixes by Visconti (included on the European “Everyone Says ‘Hi'” single and the Canadian “I’ve Been Waiting For You” single) and Moby (included on the 2-CD version of Heathen). The former managed to make “Sunday” into a pop song, its undercarriage now a jogging loop of “ah ah ah ah” voices a la “O Superman”; the latter was pointless.

* Strauss also orchestrated an 1894 song, Ruhe, mein Seele!, in 1948 and was working on another piece—it’s arguable he was considering the songs as discrete units (the Hesse poems as one opus number, the von Eichendorff as another, etc.) and never would have classed them as a single work.

** Probably the only time “bracken” has been used in a rock song. [edit: no, “bracken” turns up in Robyn Hitchcock’s “No, I Don’t Remember Guilford” and XTC’s “The Meeting Place” and likely others—thanks crayontocrayon & Casey W.] The phrase “under the bracken” is in D.H. Lawrence’s “A Fragment of Stained Glass” (a narrative with some similarities to Bowie’s lyric here) and Tove Jansson’s Moominpappa’s Memoirs.

*** “All My Trials”/”All My Sorrows” is a fascinating piece of American ersatz folklore. Though often claimed to have been derived from a 19th Century slave spiritual, the song is likely a cuckoo’s egg—a piece cobbled together ca. 1955, its lines a hash of cod-spirituals and John Bunyan-esque imagery over a melody nicked from a Barbadian lullaby.

Top: Catherine Opie, “Untitled #5 (Wall Street),” 2001.

41 Responses to Sunday

  1. Ididtheziggy says:

    Excited to get to this one. This is probably my favourite post Outside song. Granted, I’m a sucker for Bowie’s “grand Scott Walker register” and this is probably his best album opener in decades. It was also, for most listeners, the grand return of Visconti.

    Another great piece, Chris. Thanks

  2. Vinnie M says:

    I think it’s one of Bowie’s finest songs. Not just ‘finest, post-Let’s Dance” and certainly not “finest*”. No asterisks needed – Bowie really touches a nerve here.

  3. crayontocrayon says:

    Big fan of this. The glitched-out guitar is really a start of a new era of guitar playing on Bowie albums that has persisted through to TND. A move from Gabrels feedback driven squalls and bubbles to the loop based ‘atmos’ music provided by Leonard and Torn with a few supporting players coming in when more typical rock and roll bite as needed.

    On the topic of ‘bracken’, XTC have a song called the meeting place with the lyric “looked so good, Never looked the way it should, from lying in the bracken wood.”

  4. fantailfan says:

    “Sunday” is one of the few late-Bowie songs (post Scary Monsters) on my top 4713 songs (at last count). Somehow the song reminded me of House of Cards’ last series (the UK version), The Final Cut from 1995, very much valedictory. Did Bowie think this would be his last album or was he just playing the part, as you say?

  5. roobin101 says:

    This is lovely… It it might just be because they’ve come in quick succession on this blog but it reminds me of Nature Boy… There’s that really sweet chord, the first time through it comes with “look for the cars or signs of life” which is pretty Scott Walker. The synth-backingvocals really suits it too and I wouldn’t normally like that kind of pad. I don’t know if the drums were needed but the fade-out comes just in time.

  6. Diamond Duke says:

    I don’t know if I’d describe this as one of my all-time favorite David Bowie songs, but it’s certainly emblematic of the Heathen album, as well as one of the most unique and idiosyncratic things he’s recorded since reuniting with producer Tony Visconti. And it served as proof that this aging fifty-something rock star still had more than a few more surprises up his sleeve! The comparison with Scott Walker is certainly apt, the unexpected chord changes reminding me very much of the Climate Of Hunter album (1984). However, I must say I prefer the live version from A Reality Tour

    • StevenE says:

      Not sure I prefer it, but the live cut on the Reality Tour album is an absolute wonder.

      The production and the songwriting on this track, like much of the album but especially the bookends, jell so perfectly and completely. For me, this is about as good as Bowie gets – here he is, firing on all cylinders and everything just works.

      It’s the first time for me since Station to Station that Bowie’s reached for something truly great and reached it, and reached it easily. Much of Bowie’s best work are in some sense failures on the face of it – 1Outside is half the scraps of an ill-fated foray into the avant garde and half the first trimester of an aborted trilogy – while Diamond Dogs is propped up in the ruins of a D.O.A musical – but Heathen is one of the rare times that Bowie seemed to have been able to get his vision down on the record as envisioned (even if it too was born from the wreckage of Toy). Even if this isn’t the case, it really seems it.

      One of the things I found most frustrating when The Next Day was being reviewed was how so many critics called it a return-to-form, after a this century’s two disappointing efforts, a judgement seemingly communicated as though consensus had been reached in his absence as to Heathen and Reality’s worth. Was always strange to me, not least because of the extent to which TND’s sound and aesthetic was a continuation of this phase of Bowie’s career. But all I could think was that they mustn’t have heard this song.

      Also Chris, there’s a grandeur and sweep to your writing here that really does justice to the tone of the song. I can’t wait for the entry on Bring Me The Disco King…

  7. sidthecat says:

    It’s a fantastic song, but I always wanted it to keep going and turn into another song the way “Station To Station” kept going.

  8. Brandon says:

    Another great write-up of another great song. This album, it cannot be understated, was such a breath of wonderful glory after ‘hours,’ and this song provides the perfect entry point. (Also, I had never thought about it, but I’m with sidthecat. It would have been pretty cool if it had launched into new territories at the end.)

  9. Colossal track, one of his latter day masterpieces.
    The live version rocks incl. Earl Slick’s guitar solo.
    Super write up as always.

  10. s.t. says:

    Ah yes, I love this song. It took me a few years to fully appreciate Heathen as a whole, but I warmed to this opener from the start. It was a huge relief to hear this grand dramatic sound after the more basic “everyman” approach of ‘…hours.’ I know that many here are not fans of Walker-Bowie, but it’s one of my favorite of his incarnations.

    Speaking of becoming a reactionary by standing still, there was an interview around this time in which Bowie discussed the electronic drum loop, and he described it as his petulant way to keep drum n bass alive and kicking. “I haven’t given up on it!,” essentially. Of course, if I hadn’t read that, I never would have made the connection..

  11. Nick 7 says:

    Yes, I love this song too, a wonderful opening to Heathen, layer upon layer of sound but without clutter or compromise. Full of questions as well – at the time DB referred to knocking on a door and hearing a muffled voice – “I still don’t know what the voice is saying or even what language it’s in.”
    Regarding Tuvan music as mentioned by Tony Visconti, the film Genghis Blues following the musician Paul Pena to Tuva can be seen (and heard!) on Youtube.

  12. gcreptile says:

    Great song. From the first second on, you know Bowie had a vision with this one. Reality and The Next Day strike me just as collections of single songs. Heathen is a cohesive album. The Bowie persona, the artwork, the production, it immediately throws me back to that time of my life.
    Small correction: Bavaria was not ruled by an emperor, just by a king. Also, it’s a somewhat controversial issue whether that king was truly mad or just ‘unusual’.

    • col1234 says:

      thanks for the correction! the Strauss section was recycled from a very old thing I wrote & should’ve checked more for factual accuracy

  13. MC says:

    Great piece on a great, staggering piece of music. Chris, I think your work is getting better and better. Each posting is like a new chapter in a novel.

    For me, Heathen is DB’s late-career masterpiece, his Time Out Of Mind, if you will, for all the Dylanologists out there. This I suppose would make The Next Day a close followup akin to Love And Theft or Modern Times (and Reality perhaps a relative placeholder like Together Through Life, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it…) Central to the album’s effect is the strong arc from beginning to end, these “4 Last Songs” being central to that journey. Sunday ranks for me with Bowie’s greatest opening tracks, epics like Station To Station and Five Years, with an uncanny, melancholy power all its own. Looking forward to the next several entries.

  14. Maj says:

    The curious case of Sunday.
    The one Heathen song I’ve never quite warmed up to. But then, I don’t think this song was made to be warmed up to.

    Great post, as usual. This time I’m grateful for the links – really happy I listened to the two other mixes. I rarely care for mixes or remixes, that’s why I’d never heard the Visconi & Moby ones, until I played them while reading this. Visconti’s is OK but I actually really like the Moby one, which is quite incredible, considering the only piece of Moby’s work I’ve ever liked was the We Are All Made of Stars song (which is basically just glam rock innit). He added some beautiful stuff in there, the beat, the strings. It’s not as cold sounding as the original suggests the song should be, but for me it’s definitely superior. Now I’ll have to rummage thru my stuff to see if I already have the mix somewhere. So thanks for that, Chris! 🙂

  15. Modchik says:

    Another brilliant post and as everyone’s mentioned, the song as album opener is a real moment of classic Bowie after the barely treading water of Hours. I’m guessing Bowie as an Elvis fan might have been referencing Mr Presley’s version of All My Trials ( that he rolled together into An American Trilogy in his later live shows. It has the feel of an man (literally) at the end of his life to match Sunday’s mood.

  16. Momus says:

    It’s actually the first time I’ve heard this song, and it’s impressive (I particularly like the backing vocals, a perpetual Bowie-Visconti strength). As a 54 year-old myself I ought to understand the weariness and wariness the song seems to contain, but somehow I don’t feel addressed by it. I wonder why not?

    One reason is that when Bowie is in Walker mode he always seems to end up sounding half-assed. He does Climate of Hunter-era Walker, situating himself in that particular compromise between rock and avant, between tonality and atonality, that Walker reached in 1984. But of course Walker went much further into atonality and avant-gardism later, leaving his imitators looking as if they’d missed the bus (precisely the sort of thing Bowie once made a point of doing, ruthlessly and magnificently, to his own followers and imitators).

    I find the Alex Ross statement about the Strauss Last Songs hyperbolic and self-contradictory. If a progressive can become a reactionary by standing still, it is precisely because the Modernist imperative of progress has NOT been destroyed. Scott Walker is an exemplary Modernist in this sense: he keeps pushing into the unknown, and he makes other artists sound dated as a result. The arrival of Bish Bosch just before The Next Day (with its Walker-lite ending) was a case in point, unfortunately. Walker was just so much further out there, looking so much more daring, inventing new ways of being entertaining. Whereas the synth pads, ambient guitar noodling, and particularly that awful 70s “guitar-store demo” solo Earl Slick plays at the end of the live version makes me cringe a bit.

    I think another reason I’m not entirely swayed is that at 54 I don’t feel as old as this song sounds: this bleak landscape is not one I recognise from my own experience. It isn’t that bad!

    Also, what I value in Bowie is sex and quirkiness and playfulness and campiness, and there’s little of that here. I do value his morbid seriousness and artistic ambition, though, and I certainly do hear that here. And I agree with those who’ve said it’s like a step on from the Nature Boy cover: the vocal certainly has that feel.

    Sunday certainly is a “return to form”, and I love to imagine the elderly Bowie listening to classical music and connecting his own work to it. I would prefer him to be drawing on different (and more avant-garde) 20th century composers, but even my favourite artist can’t be the marionette of my wishes.

    • s.t. says:

      When all the world was very old, and hampered down by mists of mold, the supermen would sit and glower, and reminisce about youthful power.

      I think of Sunday’s conservative nature as yet another glamor for the Dame to show off. It was a way for him to deal with being 54, and quite a dramatic one at that, but therein lies the charm! It’s stuffy old man as resplendent drag. Taking a cue from Bryan Ferry’s intentionally creaky “As Time Goes By,” but tapping a Romantic-era Thin White Duke for pomp and grandeur. This drag isn’t quirky or playful. The entity of Sunday is a humorless, sexless, celestial being. Fragile, but graceful, and wondrous to behold.

      Thus, even Zarathustra, another time-loser, could believe in him.

  17. Bowie’s best song since Cat People (Putting Out Fire) soundtrack version.

  18. Mitja Lovše says:

    This might sound a bit off topic, but still – Bowie is great with album openers. This song, Station to Station, Beauty and The Beast, Five Years, It’s No Game and the list goes on. I am surprised nobody ever mentioned that.
    About Sunday – I like it, cause it sounds playful, sinister, omnious and optimistic at the same time Only Bowie could pull this off.

    • Stolen Guitar says:

      Watch That Man, Young Americans, Changes, Modern Love, Width of a Circle, Speed of Life, Fantastic Voyage…good point!

      That’s his commercial sensibilities coming to the fore and it certainly launched the above mentioned records in the best way possible. Boys Keep Swinging may have been the optimum launcher for Lodger but Fantastic Voyage is the appropriate intro for the albums travelogue theme. That man knows his pop music and how to get it out there!

  19. Mr Tagomi says:

    To call it “existential angst” cheapens it a bit, but I’ll say it anyway:

    The existential angst on this and other Heathen songs really chimes with me. Makes me feel that I have more common ground with the elder DB than the younger one.

  20. Paul says:

    Very interesting. I enjoy reading your blog immensely. Great work.

  21. Charlie says:

    I know I appear to be in a minority among Bowie fans but I think Heathen is vastly overrated. I think because enough time had passed for his pre-Lets Dance albums to be considered classics and therefore elevate Bowie to the status of living legend (and enough time had passed to forget Tin Machine and most of his 80s output) and becuase this sounded like the sort of material a man of his age should be making I think this album was warmly welcomed (by critics particuarly) on that basis. The full-on tour with all this hits probaly helped too build more good will I would imagine.

    Again I might be in a minority, but this album feels even weaker in light of the Next Day. The ND isn’t perfect by any stretch but for the most part sounds fresh and inspired. The huge number of songs written during those sessions suggests he found is groove again; Heathen had to be fleshed out with 3 mediocre covers.

    I read one review which expressed dissapointment that the haunted crooner on the cover and seemingly used in ‘Sunday’ didn’t really extend to or survive the rest of the album. I have to share that view, this is such a great track but the rest of the album pretty much leaves me feeling underwhelmed. I also HATE Bowie covers, on studio albums at least, so I probaly feel short changed for that reason too.

    • Ididtheziggy says:

      I’ll disagree with you on Heathen but for the most part agree with the covers thing. I just think that he really doesn’t do covers well there are a few exceptions, but for the most part I find them forgettable (or in the case of God Only Knows, sinful).

    • CosmicJive says:

      I’m with you Charlie. At the time I was really excited about Heathen and thought it was an excellent work. Today I’d rather give Hours a spin instead of this one.

      I really miss some sense of adventure and excitement on this album.
      If there was ever a sample/loop cd with Bowie-ish sounds for programs like Garageband or Acid Pro I’m sure you wouldve been able to put sunday together with it.

    • sidthecat says:

      The vast majority of Mr. Bowie’s covers suffer from an odd reluctance to deviate too far from the originals. They seem unnecessary.
      My other problem with many of the tracks is that they often go on for too long, after most of the musical or ambient value has been sucked out of them. That said, I still really like the album. “Hours” seems like such a dead end, and one can enjoy only so many versions of “Seven”.

  22. BenJ says:

    I remember that a lot of people were under the misapprehension that Heathen was Bowie’s 9/11 album. “Sunday” especially got that treatment, I think because its “Everything has changed” unintentionally echoed one of the cliches of W’s first term. Explaining that the song had nothing to do with terrorism much have gotten old pretty quick.

    Great post. I like the observation that DB was trying on “Grand Old Man” as another in a stage of personas. He’s had worse, really.

  23. Mike says:

    I’ve found “Sunday” to be a reliable substitute for Ambien. Zzzzzz….

  24. sidthecat says:

    I find Late Bowie much more interesting than Early Bowie. It’s so interesting musically, compared with his somewhat derivative folk-inflected work. It may be a taste thing, because so many fans would completely differ with me.

  25. KenHR says:

    This is one of my favorite songs of all time, really. The atmosphere, the lyrics, the production, the harmonic movement, the structure…it’s all perfect.

    Heathen took a while to grow on me, and like ‘hours…’, Reality and The Next Day, works for me as an album more than on an individual song level. But this track…this is just sublime.

  26. leonoutside says:

    Ted Hughes, The Poet Laureate (& Plaith’s husband), wrote that bracken threatened to strangle heather in Dartmoor, Devon.

  27. Waki says:

    I am discovering post Let’s Dance Bowie only in 2016, sip by sip, song after song with at times weeks long breaks between songs and albums.
    I first fell for Outside, then Blackstar…. During the last few days, Disco King haunted me, and then yesterday Survive haunted my mind and provoked great emotional enlivenment for various reasons. So I decided an hour ago to listen to the full Heathen, for the first time.
    Wow. I am still stuck with Sunday. I am so impressed it’s turning my mind around. I was still thinking that Early Bowie was greater because of the unequaled boldness, freedom, playfulness and creativity of most songs. But here I was struck and thought, Gosh, this is just perfect Mastery of music!
    I don’t always like Walker-Bowie but this one makes complete sense and just works, every tiny thing in it (and I still have to explore the lyrics deeper). I have listened to it in loop now for about 10 times, at last getting bored of it (maybe only bored because I stopped proper listening and started reading this beautiful post).
    At one point I played Strauss and by mistake the two played simultaneously, which was an awesome mix, even more sad, stunningly post apocalyptic! (for half a minute only and you need the right sound balance, but you may like to give it a try!).
    Then I played the 2003 live version and my thoughts were suspended by the intro –so intense! But then the voice came in and the sound mix does not work as nicely as the studio version, which is so perfectly produced. Love this Visconti-Bowie partnership. The chorus sounds like a mass or ritual–revealed words uttered in sacred context. You called it mantra, Chris, and I can agree there is old magic in there.

  28. Waki says:

    So now I won’t listen to Heathen the Album today. I am getting old and can have only small sips at a time! ll right, maybe a sip of Survive, and maybe Disco King, and then ….

  29. WRGerman says:

    One influence sadly left unacknowledged by DB in interviews: 10cc’s seminal “I’m Not In Love”, with its sampled layers of drone backing vox.

%d bloggers like this: