The return of David Bowie came as many of the best things often do – as a complete and unexpected surprise.
With his enduring themes of space exploration, beguiling sexuality and oddball persona Bowie is a distant and dream like figure at the best of times – but now he has chosen to celebrate his 66th birthday by showering us with the gifts – a dose of original and authentic art from an aging artful rocker.
Yet in its poetic and tender grace, the new single ‘Where are we now?’ strikes just the right chords to herald Bowie’s return.
Its melancholy, but also speaks of the unexpected return of inspiration – depicted in the video of the old streets of Berlin where Bowie lived in the 70s – a personal heyday when he wrote Heroes and Low. There is also a whimsy to the track – “just walking the dead” but Bowie looks very much alive for his 66 years.
Its a stunningly beautiful return to the public spotlight.
Better still one gets the clear sense that this is the work of a reflective but still present artist – it feels achingly real rather than studio manufactured. Now, as always, Bowie has done it on his own terms – reversing the accepted wisdom that any artist ought to create a buzz before releasing a record.
In the internet age where we can keep track of every sneeze certain celebrities make, Bowie managed to retain complete secrecy until suddenly it was there – a new single, video and promise of a complete new album in our in-boxes. This one had been kept under wraps and was all the more poignant for it.
It is nothing short of a miracle that one of the biggest rock stars in the world can still manage to pull off recording a new album and video without word of it leaking into the public domain – but with Bowie there was a sense that he had fallen into a dignified silence from which no-one wanted to stir him.
Like a living ghost. Just walking the dead.