Loving The Alien

“That one was me in there dwelling on the idea of the awful shit that we’ve had to put with because of the Church. That’s how it started out: for some reason I was very angry. The most obvious lie or cover-up I can think of its through education… at the time of writing the song I was reading a book called The Jesus Scrolls, and the conclusion of that book is that Jesus died at the age of 70 at Masada and wrote a scroll himself, which is currently in the hands of the Russians, who are holding it over the Catholic Church. Actually I read that a long, long time ago, around ’75 — it was a real Los Angeles book, but it really stayed with me. The crunching thing about the Church is that it has always had so much power. It was always more of a power tool than anything else, which was not very apparent to the majority of us. I never thought about it as… as a child it was just going to church and listening to the choir and hearing the prayers, and it was never really made apparent how much weight they carried. My own father was one of the few fathers I knew who had a lot of understanding of other religions. He — this is an abuse of the word — ‘tolerated’ Buddhists or Muslims or Hindus or Mohammedans, whatever, and he was a great humanitarian in those terms. I think some of that was passed on to me, and encouraged me to become interested in other religions. There was no enforced religion, though, he didn’t particularly care for the English religion — Henry’s religion. Oh God! ‘Alien’ came about because of the feeling that so much history is wrong — as is being rediscovered all the time — and that we base so much on the wrong knowledge that we’ve gleaned. Now some historian is putting forward the notion the whole idea of Israel is wrong and that it was in fact in Saudi Arabia and not in Palestine. It’s extraordinary considering all the mistranslations in the Bible that our lives are being navigated by this misinformation, and that so many people have died because of it, and all the power factions involved.”David Bowie (604)

Joe The Lion

“‘Joe The Lion’ is about a performance artist, so it’s almost like I was vaguely prophesying what I would be doing today when I wrote it back in ’78.”David Bowie (605)

Looking For Satellites

“The opening chant here is a cut-up, but then it moves into a straight, rational piece about where we find ourselves at this particular point in this era: somewhere between religion and technology, and not quite sure where to go next. It’s kind of a poignant feeling, standing alone on a beach at night looking for a satellite: it connects you with how far man has evolved, and how far he has to go yet. It’s that feeling of being very much alone and looking for something in the sky, a physical object, but what you’re really looking for is an answer.”David Bowie (606)

Battle For Britain (The Letter)

“It’s another cut-up, but it probably comes from a sense of, ‘Am I or am I not British?’, an inner war that wages in most expatriates. I’ve not lived in Britain since 1974, but I love the place, and I keep going back.”David Bowie (606)

Seven Years In Tibet

“I guess that’s the only track [from the album Earthling – Ed] that takes an obvious political stance. As a kid, Tibetan philosophy was important to me, I was totally seduced by it, and Seven Years In Tibet by Heinrik Hasser was crucial for me. It seems a little dated now, but in my teens it made a major impression on me. I just wanted to be Tibetan – I wanted my eyes and skin-colour to change, I wanted short black hair and saffron robes. I met a Tibetan at that time, a monk called Chimi Yong Dong Rimposhay, and he told me I was out of my mind to want to be a monk. Best piece of advice I was ever given! I keep bumping into Chimie every four or five years, and strangely enough, as I was writing this song, a fan, out of nowhere, sent me photograph of him as he looks now, from when he was lecturing a few years ago. Spooky!”David Bowie (606)

The Last Thing You Should Do

“All my grand advice! Actually, I started with that line, then had to support it with verses. I think it’s a cautionary tale – ‘What have you been doing to yourself?’ is the opening line. ‘It’s the last thing you should do.’ It gives you quite a lot of room for speculation: it could be about drugs, promiscuity, any number of the modern ‘don’ts’, but it’s not particularised.”David Bowie (606)

I’m Afraid Of Americans

“That’s fairly self-explanatory. It’s all wrapped up in one of these stereotypical ‘Johnny’ songs: Johnny does this, Johnny does that – in this particular one he’s hauled up as the most mundane, philistine elements of what everybody hates about America. The face of America that we have to put up with is the MacDonald’s/Disney/Coke face, this really homogenous, bland cultural invasion that sweeps over us – which is unfortunate, because the aspects of America that are really magical to us are the things it seems to reject like black music, or the Beat poets: there’s an incredibly strong individuality about America that gets glossed over by the corporate invasion. The song’s not terribly hostile – actually, it’s just a bit whingey, I suppose. I have to be a bit careful, ‘cos all my band are Yanks!”David Bowie (606)

Law (Earthlings On Fire)

“I used what I believe is a Bertrand Russell quote, ‘I don’t want knowledge, I want certainty’, which appealed to me ‘cos that’s how we feel some of the time – we just want the answers, we don’t want to go through all this shit to find them! To me, it’s the avenue to insanity, to presume that if you keep studying you’ll find the answers. As I got older, I was more able to accept the idea that you don’t have certainty on this earth; rather than make you more perplexed and worried, it actually lightens the load when you realise there are no certainties. It’s much easier to let go of things and not see them in such a serious light all the time. You realise that life is created by the things you do each day, that it’s nothing more than the sum of the things you’ve done in the last 24 hours. That’s life!”David Bowie (606)

Life On Mars

“This is a sensitive young girl’s reaction to…The Media.”David Bowie (694)

The Man Who Sold The World

“I guess I wrote it because there was a part of myself that I was looking for. Maybe now that I feel more comfortable with the way that I live my life and my mental state and my spiritual state whatever, maybe I feel there’s some kind of unity now. That song for me always exemplified kind of how you feel when you’re young, when you know that there’s a piece of yourself that you haven’t really put together yet. You have this great searching, this great need to find out who you really are.”David Bowie (695)