The first lyrics set up the cheerful tone:
We could run when the rain slows
Look for the cars or signs of life
Where the heat goes
Look for the drifters
We should crawl under the bracken
Look for the shafts of light
On the road where the heat goes
Everything has changed
So far, it's just a standard post-apocalyptic Bowie tune. But what is this "rain" he speaks of? Everything in Bowie's oeuvre has a double meaning, so it's highly unlikely that he's talking about something as mundane as water falling from the sky. The track "5:15 The Angels Have Gone" later in the album helps clear up that mystery:
I'm changing trains
This little town
Let me down
This foreign rain
Brings me down
The rain is foreign, and in the sky, and it brings people down, just like ... just like the 9/11 hijackers? Hogwash, you might say. But wait, there's more. The song is about someone boarding a train, but this being Bowie, we can safely assume that by "train" he really means "airplane." This is partly because of his aforementioned knack for metaphors and symbolism, and partly because he's severely dyslexic.
"What a mighty peculiar horse."
So, we have a man boarding an airplane with foreigners who bring him down. Hmm. And note the almost disdainful mention of "this little town" (New York?), which is repeated in another track, "Slow Burn":
Here shall we live in this terrible town
Where the price for our eyes shall squeeze them tight like a fist
Now the town isn't just little, it's also terrible. Deserving of scorn. At this point it's painfully obvious that the album is written from the point of view of a terrorist -- someone for whom the rest of us are "heathens." The track "A Better Future" switches up the perspective to regular people, but it's sung in a wimpy voice, like it's making fun of us:
Please don't tear this world asunder
Please take back this fear we're under
This "fear" that Mr. Bowie finds so hilarious is all over the album: "Slow Burn" has the phrase "There's fear overhead," another song is called "Afraid," and if we return to the opening track for a moment we'll find this:
In your fear
Of what we have become
Take to the fire
Now we must burn
All that we are
Through these clouds
As on wings
Holy. Fucking. Shit. David Bowie wrote an album from the point of view of the terrorists, right before 9/11. After all America has given to the tactless British bastard.
Like this thong I just censored with a goblin from Labyrinth.
What gets me the most is that Bowie is a well-connected man. There's no reason why he couldn't have picked up a phone, called Stevie Wonder, and recorded a duet about racial harmony in the style of 1982's chart-topping single "Ebony and Ivory." In fact, it could have been a whole album of Ebonies and Ivories. Think about it. Wouldn't that be something? Now that's what I call music.
Maxwell Yezpitelok deeply regrets this article already. Here's his Twitter anyway.
For more from Maxwell, check out The 7 Most Baffling Video Game Adaptations of Everyday Life and The 5 Most Hilariously Misguided Comic Book Adaptations.
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