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Review and Meaning of David Bowie's "Where Are We Now?"

Updated on October 15, 2015

Genius Returns!

What a surprise to wake up to a new David Bowie single this morning! The last time I felt like this was in 1980 when he released Ashes to Ashes. I didn't know what to expect, I clicked on the Vimeo play button with trepidation, would it be worthy or a bitter disappointment? I needn't have worried, it's a brilliant song that gets better every time I hear it.

As with most of Bowie's music, this song is certainly multi-layered. The lyrics are poetically ambiguous but the melody is visceral. The overwhelming emotions it evokes are sadness, regret and nostalgia.

The Definition of Elegiac

Some people described "Where Are We Now?" as elegiac. I knew this word but I wasn't sure of its precise meaning. One dictionary defined it as "Of, relating to, or involving elegy or mourning or expressing sorrow for that which is irrecoverably past". In future, I suggest the definition will read; Please refer "Where Are We Now?"

Video, David Bowie's - "Where Are We Now?"

Why So Sad?

The song, whilst undeniably beautiful, is achingly sad. Bowie and his companion in the video seem to be choking back the tears. This is more than nostalgia, it's foreboding, it's fearful, it's summoning up courage, it's clinging onto hope. Bowie's physical persona is absolutely stripped back, no color, no mask. The way he stares down the camera is confessional.

The lyrics reference his time in Germany when he was at his most creative but also recognize that those times are gone; "walking the dead". I was intrigued by the phrase "The moment you know, you know you know". This could refer to the moment of creative inspiration, I took it as something altogether more sinister, the awful revelation that your worst fears will be realized. This is supported by "fingers are crossed just in case". The song finishes on a defiant note; "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"

Fittingly, the video closes with shots of the Victory Column in Berlin. Bowie's life has been a triumph of talent, durability and artistic integrity. I hope that the new album can fulfill the promise of this song.

So, where are we now? Bowie and the majority of his fans are nearer the end than the beginning but we still have something to contribute, something to say and nobody says it better than David Bowie. I can't wait until the next day to hear it.

David Bowie's New Album "The Next Day"

Due for release March 2013

Here are the tracklistings for the two versions (Standard and De-luxe) of the upcoming album (you can pre-order now)

The Next Day

Standard Version:

01. The Next Day 3:51

02. Dirty Boys 2:58

03. The Stars (Are Out Tonight) 3:56

04. Love Is Lost 3:57

05. Where Are We Now? 4:08

06. Valentine's Day 3:01

07. If You Can See Me 3:16

08. I'd Rather Be High 3:53

09. Boss Of Me 4:09

10. Dancing Out In Space 3:24

11. How Does The Grass Grow 4:33

12. (You Will) Set The World On Fire 3:30

13. You Feel So Lonely You Could Die 4:41

14. Heat 4:25

Total (Approximately) 53:14

Deluxe Version

01. The Next Day 3:51

02. Dirty Boys 2:58

03. The Stars (Are Out Tonight) 3:56

04. Love Is Lost 3:57

05. Where Are We Now? 4:08

06. Valentine's Day 3:01

07. If You Can See Me 3:16

08. I'd Rather Be High 3:53

09. Boss Of Me 4:09

10. Dancing Out In Space 3:24

11. How Does The Grass Grow 4:33

12. (You Will) Set The World On Fire 3:30

13. You Feel So Lonely You Could Die 4:41

14. Heat 4:25

Bonus tracks:

15. So She 2:31

16. I'll Take You There 2:44

17. Plan 2:34

UPDATE: Now released, here's a YouTube video of the whole album:-

David Bowie's Latest Album, The Next Day

Where Are We Now? Links

I find it fascinating to read what other people think about Bowie's work. As I find other stuff, I'll add the links here.

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Guestbook Comments

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    • juditpaton profile image

      Iudit Gherghiteanu 5 years ago from Ozun

      beautiful songs, i am sorry because did not know about David Bowie before. At least now i got there...

    • DJ-TBone profile image

      DJ-TBone 5 years ago

      hey i had never heard "wild is the wind" before so thank you for posting it, awesome song! And good creative insights :) cool lens!

    • Jasonsuffolk profile image
      Author

      Jasonsuffolk 5 years ago from Ipswich, England

      @CMatthewHawkins: Thanks for your kind words. I found your excellent lens and I've added it o the "related lenses" in the right hand column above.

    • CMatthewHawkins profile image

      CMatthewHawkins 5 years ago

      I like the way you walk the read through the process of thinking about lyrics and music. There are several Squidoo lenses that go beyond simply saying "I like this," and "I don't like that"; but, rather, enable the reader to have a deeper understanding of the creative work. I am going to add this lens, as a link, in my David Bowie page.

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 5 years ago

      Such an insightful review! I didn't know he had a new single until this lens! I like the song, too!

    • profile image

      aquarian_insight 5 years ago

      I'm listening to the song now and I agree, it is achingly beautiful. I enjoyed reading your comments on the song and the meanings you derived. Thank you.

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