David Bowie – Where Are We Now?
Title: Where Are We Now?
Artist: David Bowie
Album: The Next Day
David Bowie sang about time changing him when he was still in his early 20s but you never really thought about him growing old. He’s dabbled in just about every major form of popular music and, when later in his career he turned his attention to hard rock and drum’n’bass, you sensed how important it was for him to be current. Bowie keeps up– he’s an aesthete who knows what the kids are up to and has used those obsessions as a sort of spiritual Botox. But he’s been quiet over the last decade; after his last album, 2003’s Reality, someone threw a lollipop into his eye at a show, he had heart surgery, and he’s generally laid pretty low. He was reportedly using his time to paint and draw; he grew so quiet it seemed like maybe he could no longer muster the energy for music. Which would have been perfectly fine. David Bowie has made enough brilliant music.
But then today came this single, plus the news that a new album is imminent. The beautiful thing about “Where Are We Now?” is that Bowie sounds every second of his 66 years; the tone is elegiac, his voice is weary and wise and could never be mistaken for the voice of a younger man. It’s a little disconcerting at first, just how cracked and naked his singing sounds, but the scotch-soaked after-hours musical backing gives it the perfect context. “Where are we now?” is a question Bowie wouldn’t have asked in the same way in the 1970s; back then he might have expected an answer but now he’s old enough to understand that you never really figure it out. Mark Richardson
So, where are we now?