New Bowie Album Cover, Song Evoke Reality of Lingering in a Changing World

Author: Steve Woods
Published: January 08, 2013 at 7:21 pm

While others celebrating their birthday relax and enjoy the gifts lavished upon them by friends and family, singer David Bowie decided to take his special day and offer up something unique, bold and entirely reflective to his fans.

On Bowie's 66th anniversary of life, the artist has released his first new single in a decade, in the form of a music video entitled Where Are We Now?. The video is stark, evoking the feeling of homemade videos layered with purposeful yet oversimplified use of cutting edge technologies in a life filled with clutter and sweet memories.

Along with the music video release comes word on his site that Bowie is planning on releasing soon a full 14-17 track album, called The Next Day. The artwork on the album, however, has created even more of a stir than his unusual video, as it is a subversion of his previous, iconic album Heroes.

So why the subversion? Jonathan Barnbrook, artist behind the cover sleeve for The Next Day was asked about the image, and he responded that it was not to inspire thoughts of recycling content from the past, nor was it meant to embody "forgetting or obliterating" it.

Much of the song is about earlier times, lyrics strewn with memories of times spent in the once-familiar and favorite flats, studios and nightclubs of then music powerhouse Berlin . Much of the footage is grainy, retouched to look old, evoking times past, memories kept dear. "No matter how much we try, we cannot break free from the past," reminded Barnbrook. "It always looms large and people will judge you always in relation to your history, no matter how much you try to escape it."

The imagery of escape can be found in growing up in the mean streets of 1950s Berlin or Bowie's London, two cities still showing the damage of war, eternally connected through having reached out to each other in times of trial. In the hard-scrabble life of a hungry, once-obscure artist, and in the life of an icon who perhaps seeks a clearer connection with one's past. Also in a nation and even a society coming to terms with its own personal divisions and moving forward while acknowledging its disturbing past.

"The obscuring of an image from the past is also about the wider human condition; we move on relentlessly in our lives to the next day, leaving the past because we have no choice to," added Barnbrook.

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Article Author: Steve Woods

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