“The Informer” came on my iTunes playlist and, almost out of reflex, I Googled the song and found a YouTube video. Fan-made, of course, with helpful images of the lyric sheet (which the digital download doesn’t include, unfortunately). Again, almost out of reflex, I went to search for other versions of the song and realized there would be none. Because there are none. Because not only is the song new — but Bowie has yet to perform it live and probably never will. And that made me sad. Little things, when they hit me, tend to make me sad, especially when I’m tired and it’s January (February).
Let’s talk about why I like this song. I like the lyrics, because they are fragmented and unclear. They don’t mean anything, but they mean a lot. They make reference to a broken mirror, a train ride, blood, Christ with a capital “C,” and having questions about… about. It is one of those songs where, depending on the mood you are in, you could superimpose any story you wanted. Much like Bowie himself — he can be whomever you want him to be, because he keeps changing, and never reveals his face — you can create a self-reflection, or an aspiration, or a nightmare. To me, this makes me think of crisis, a moment of depression, suicide, at least the thought or attempt. But like any Bowie song, it could mean anything at all.
One version of this song. I want there to be more, by Bowie himself, and maybe there will be. One with the imperfections (that are somehow perfect) of a live performance or television appearance or… even a later reinterpretation. Greedy, I am. One version isn’t good enough. Redo, reinvent, reinterpret, rewrite. Continuously. Then I’ll be satisfied, at least until my in-constant-need-of-stimulation brain decides it wants more.
(I’m not motivated to upload the video. Maybe it was the Prince lawsuit, that was launched and then dropped last week. Maybe it’s out of respect. Maybe it’s wanting to lead the ghost-readers of this blog on a fruitless YouTube search of their own, to find another version, a different Bowie version, of this song.)