Sometimes, before I upload these videos, I read through the YouTube comments. Normally they are some variation on “Bowie is a rock God,” or “I would go gay for David Bowie.”
Many of this song’s comments, on other video versions besides this one, speculated on its meaning. Some said it was about death. I am in the camp that it is about depression, or the sheer banality of day-to-day life. When I first heard the line “Don’t stay in a sad place, where they don’t care how you are,” I thought it was typical of the subtle message you get from empowerment, new age media: if you are positive, people will react to you positively. If you’re not, you’re only hurting yourself. A good message for some, a hurtful one for others.
The accompanying interview in this clip (performance starts at 9:37) is from a German television program in 2002. The Bowie in this interview is three decades beyond and a lifetime away from this one. It’s a nice interview, and includes reminiscences of his time in Berlin in the 1970s, memories he’s offering up a full 10 years before he released Where Are We Now? in 2013. I couldn’t help but recall that it was also in Germany that Bowie had his massive heart incident in 2004 that ended the Reality tour, and in essence his performance career to date.