David Bowie – Changes

This is the first Bowie song I remember hearing when I was really young. I associated it more with “Ziggy Stardust” as I remember cousins talking about him. This song was not a massive hit but is still continually played on the radio.

It was on my personal favorite album by Bowie…Hunky Dory.

The song features the work of musicians like Rick Wakeman, Mick Ronson, and Bowie playing the saxophone himself. According to Bowie, the song started out as a parody of night club life but evolved into a criticism of an artist looking for new ways to reinvent himself. Bowie continually reinvented his image, and the song eventually became a close relation of Bowie himself.

Bowie wrote this when he was going through a lot of personal change. Bowie’s wife, Angela, was pregnant with the couple’s first child, Duncan. Bowie got along very well with his father and was very excited to have a child of his own.

The song peaked at #66 in the Billboard 100 in 1972 but recharted at #41 in 1975.

It charted for the first time on the UK Singles Chart in 2016 at number 49 following Bowie’s death.

From Songfacts

This is a reflective song about defying your critics and stepping out on your own. It also touches on Bowie’s penchant for artistic reinvention.

According to Bowie, this song was a “kind of throwaway” – but people kept chanting for it at concerts and thus it became one of his most popular and enduring songs. Bowie had no idea it was going to become so successful, but the song connected with his young audience who could relate to lyrics like “These children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.”

Bowie had just started using a keyboard to write songs, which opened up new possibilities for him in terms of melody and structure. This fresh approach resulted in “Changes.”

Bowie played the sax on this track, and his guitarist, Mick Ronson, arranged the strings. Rick Wakeman, who would later became a member of the prog rock band, Yes, played the piano parts at the beginning and end. Bowie gave Wakeman a lot of freedom, telling him to play the song like it was a piano piece. The piano Wakeman played was the famous 100-year old Bechstein at Trident Studios in London, where the album was recorded; the same piano used by Elton John, The Beatles and Genesis.

Bowie’s stuttered vocals in this song (“Ch-Ch-Changes”) are some of the most famous stutters in rock. It came well after “My G-G-Generation” but predated “B-B-B-Bennie And The Jets.

According to Mike Garson, who became Bowie’s keyboard player in 1972, when he auditioned for the gig, he played the first eight seconds of “Changes” when Bowie stopped him and gave him the gig.

Changes

Oh, yeah
Mmm

Still don’t know what I was waitin’ for
And my time was runnin’ wild
A million dead end streets and
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
How the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
There’s gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

Mmm, yeah

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
And so the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re goin’ through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Where’s your shame?
You’ve left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can’t trace time

Strange fascinations fascinate me
Ah, changes are takin’
The pace I’m goin’ through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Ooh, look out you rock ‘n’ rollers
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time

When The Winds Blow 1986

The animation is wonderful in this movie. I want to thank Dave for mentioning it in his blog.

I was moved by this movie. It brought back the Cold War that even as kids we thought about from time to time. I watched this movie Wednesday night and I have been thinking about it ever since.

It’s not a movie to cheer you up by any means. It’s about an elderly British couple named Jim and Hilda Bloggs who read that war was about to begin. This was made during the cold war and Jim comes home with government brochures on how to prepare for a nuclear attack. They both keep thinking of WW2 and neither were knowledgeable on the horrors of nuclear war.

You really get invested in this couple and as the story unfolds and it’s terribly realistic. Jim keeps reading the brochure and both are optimistic about it all without fully understanding it…Even after the worse happens they remain confident that all will be well…it’s worth a watch. When the Wind Blows was based on a 1982 graphic novel, by British artist Raymond Briggs, that shows a nuclear attack on Britain by the Soviet Union.

It looks like a stop-motion background but with cartoon characters for the bulk of the movie. A technical crew employed a striking combination of hand-drawn and stop-motion animation to bring to life Briggs’ characters, the numerous fantasy/dream sequences, and the soon-to-be nuclear-ravaged, picture-postcard surroundings of the Sussex countryside.

The music… David Bowie sings the theme “When The Wind Blows” and he was going to give more tracks but decided to back out to focus on his album. Roger Waters came in and finished it up. Squeeze also adds to the soundtrack.

Why apocalyptic animation When the Wind Blows is still devastating ...

Why apocalyptic animation When the Wind Blows is still devastating ...

 

David Bowie – Modern Love

This was my favorite song off of the Lets Dance album released in 1983.

Stevie Ray Vaughan played guitar on this song. Bowie asked him to play on the Let’s Dance album after seeing him perform at a music festival.

David Bowie and Nile Rodgers wrote this song.  Modern Love peaked at #14 in the Billboard 100, #2 in Canada, #2 in the UK, and #6 in New Zealand in 1983. The album was also produced by Bowie and Rodgers.

Nile Rodgers said that Bowie came into his apartment one day and showed him a photograph of Little Richard in a red suit getting into a bright red Cadillac, saying “Nile, darling, that’s what I want my album to sound like.”

How cool is that?

From Songfacts

This is about the struggle to find solace in love and religion. It has also been suggested this song contemplates the old adage “The more things change the more they stay the same.” Explaining how he remained a force in pop music for so many years, Bowie sings, “It’s not really work it’s just a power to charm.” 

Bowie said this song’s call-and-response vocal arrangement “all comes from Little Richard.” A defining moment in Bowie’s childhood was when his dad came home with a copy of “Tutti Frutti.”

This sounds very similar to Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing.” They were both recorded around the same time and Bowie nor John were aware of each other’s song.

In 1987, Bowie re-recorded this with Tina Turner for a Pepsi commercial where he plays a scientist who creates the perfect woman (Turner), with a little help from Pepsi. The storyline is cribbed from the 1985 movie Weird Science.

Modern Love

I know when to go out 
Know when to stay in 
Get things done 

I catch a paper boy
But things don’t really change
I’m standing in the wind
But I never wave bye-bye
But I try, I try
There’s no sign of life
It’s just the power to charm
I’m lying in the rain
But I never wave bye-bye
But I try, I try
Never gonna fall for

(Modern love) walks beside me
(Modern love) walks on by
(Modern love) gets me to the church on time
(Church on time) terrifies me
(Church on time) makes me party
(Church on time) puts my trust in God and man
(God and man) no confession
(God and man) no religion
(God and man) don’t believe in modern love

It’s not really work
It’s just the power to charm
I’m still standing in the wind
But I never wave bye bye
But I try, I try
Never gonna fall for

(Modern love) walks beside me
(Modern love) walks on by
(Modern love) gets me to the church on time
(Church on time) terrifies me
(Church on time) makes me party
(Church on time) puts my trust in God and man
(God and man) no confession
(God and man) no religion
(God and man) I don’t believe in modern love

Modern love (modern love) 
Modern love (modern love) 
Modern love (modern love) 
Modern love (modern love) 
Modern love (modern love) 
Modern love (modern love) 
Modern love (modern love) 
Modern love (modern love) 
(Modern love) 
(Modern love) 
(Modern love) 
(Modern love)
Modern love, walks beside me 
(Modern love) 
Modern love, walks on by 
(Modern love)
Modern love, walks beside me 
Modern love
Modern love, walks on by
Modern love
Never gonna fall for
Modern love
Modern love

Bing Crosby & David Bowie – Peace On Earth / The Little Drummer Boy

I know what I was doing on November 30, 1977. I was watching Merrie Olde Christmas special as a kid. I didn’t appreciate the weirdness of the combination of Bing Crosby and David Bowie at the time. Something that the seventies did well and sometimes bad…was to intersect generations on variety shows. This one was a good combination.

This special had guest stars  Twiggy, David Bowie, Ron Moody, Stanley Baxter, and The Trinity Boys Choir. It was the duet with Bing Crosby and David Bowie that has been remembered. I remember watching this knowing that Bing Crosby had died the month earlier. The duet was taped on September 11, 1977, and Crosby died on October 14, 1977.

David Bowie’s mother was a huge Bing Crosby fan and Bing Crosby’s children were big David Bowie fans…so the two agreed to sing together. It was questionable at first if it would work out.

Mary Crosby: “The doors opened and David walked in with his wife,” she recalled. “They were both wearing full-length mink coats, they have matching full makeup and their hair was bright red. We were thinking, ‘Oh my god.'” Nathaniel Crosby, Bing’s son, added: “It almost didn’t happen. I think the producers told him to take the lipstick off and take the earring out. It was just incredible to see the contrast.”

Another possible hitch happened with Bowie. He didn’t like The Little Drummer Boy and refused to sing it. The writers then wrote a revised version of the song that he liked. They wrote a counterpart section for Bowie to sing. Crosby liked the challenge of his part. The rest is history and one of the most unusual pairings you will ever see…

One funny part is Bowie’s idea of “older fellas” at the time is John Lennon and Harry Nilsson.

The Little Drummer Boy (Peace On Earth)

Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
A newborn king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Our finest gifts we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum

[Verse 2: Bowie and Crosby]
Peace on Earth can it be?
Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Years from now, perhaps we’ll see?
A newborn king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
See the day of glory
Our finest gift we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
See the day, when men of good will
To lay before the king pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Live in peace, live in peace again
Rum-pum-pum-pum, Rum-pum-pum-pum
Peace on Earth
So to honour him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Can it be
When we come

[Bridge: Bowie and Crosby in unison]
Every child must be made aware
Every child must be made to care
Care enough for his fellow man
To give all the love that he can

[Verse 4: Bowie and Crosby]
I pray my wish will come true
Little baby pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
For my child and your child too
I stood beside him there pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
He’ll see the day of glory
I played my drum for him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
See the day when men of good will
I played my best for him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Live in peace, live in peace again
Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum
Peace on Earth
Me and my drum
Can it be

Can it be

David Bowie – Starman

This was from my favorite era of Bowie. After Bowie appeared on the Top of the Pops in 1972 performing this song…the song and Ziggy took off.

The song peaked at #65 in the Billboard 100 and #10 in the UK in 1972. The song was on the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars which peaked at #75 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1972 and #21 in 2016.

Woody Woodmansey the drummer in Bowie’s backing band, The Spiders From Mars: “I love ‘Starman’ as it’s the concept of hope that the song communicates. That ‘we’re not alone’ and ‘they’ contact the kids, not the adults, and kind of say ‘get on with it.’ ‘Let the children boogie’: music and rock ‘n’ roll! It lifted the attention away from the depressing affairs in the ’70s, made the future look better. ‘Starman’ was the first Bowie song since ‘Space Oddity’ with mass appeal. After ‘Starman,’ everything changed.”

From Songfacts

This forms part of the Ziggy Stardust story, in which the end of the world lingers just five years away. This song tells of salvation waiting in the sky, as revealed through Starman’s messenger, Ziggy Stardust. The song is told from the perspective of a person listening to Ziggy on the radio. 

In 1972, Bowie performed this song on the British TV show, Top of the Pops. Bowie appeared as the flame-haired Ziggy Stardust dressed in a multicolored jump suit. Bowie strummed a blue guitar while he moved flirtatiously alongside his guitarist, Mick Ronson. It was the first time many had seen Bowie and people were fascinated by his stage presence. This performance would catapult Bowie to stardom and prove wildly influential on the next generation of English rockers.

Among the many who have cited this specific appearance as a transformative moment is Lol Tolhurst of The Cure, who writes in his memoir, “I remember sitting on my couch at home with my mother, watching this spectacle unfold, and at the point where Bowie sang the line, ‘I had to phone someone so I picked on you,’ he pointed directly at the camera, and I knew he was singing that line to me and everyone like me. It was a call to arms that put me on the path that I would soon follow.”

Bowie was influenced by the song “Over The Rainbow,” which is most obvious during the chorus (“There’s a Starman…”). 

This was the last song written for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, supposedly because nobody had heard a potential single on the album. It became Bowie’s first UK hit in three years. His only previous chart entry had been “Space Oddity” in 1969.

“We’d finished recording the Ziggy Stardust album at that time and it went into the record company. They said: ‘We can’t release this. It doesn’t have a single on it!'” Woody Woodmansey recalled to The Quietus. “So, we came out of the studio and in about a month he had written ‘Starman’ and we were back in the studio by January. It was an obvious single! I think Mick and I went out in the car after David played it for us the first time, and we were already singing it, having only heard it only once.”

“At the time, we thought it might be a bit too poppy, a bit too commercial,” he continued. “It might seem strange, but we just hadn’t done anything that commercial before. I always thought Bowie had that ability, that any time he felt like it, he could write a hit single. He just had that about him. I think he chose not to right through his career. If he felt like it, he would write one, and if he didn’t, he wouldn’t. That was just the impression of working with him. It’s not a fluke to be able to write all those amazing tunes.”

This is also the title of John Carpenter’s 1984 sci-fi movie, starring Jeff Bridges as an alien who takes the form of a woman’s (Karen Allen) dead husband and needs her help to get home. The song is not used in the movie.

This was used in a 2016 commercial for the Audi R8 that first aired during the 2016 Super Bowl about two months after David Bowie died. In the spot, a retired astronaut has lost his passion for life, but gets it back after his son presents with the car and he goes for a drive under a moonlit sky. The end panel pays tribute to Bowie, stating, “In memory of the Starman.”

Starman

Didn’t know what time it was and the lights were low
I leaned back on my radio
Some cat was layin’ down some rock ‘n’ roll ‘lotta soul, he said
Then the loud sound did seem to fade
Came back like a slow voice on a wave of phase
That weren’t no D.J. that was hazy cosmic jive

There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
‘Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile
He told me
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie

I had to phone someone so I picked on you
Hey, that’s far out so you heard him too!
Switch on the TV we may pick him up on channel two
Look out your window I can see his light
If we can sparkle he may land tonight
Don’t tell your poppa or he’ll get us locked up in fright

There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
‘Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile
He told me
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie

There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
‘Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile
He told me
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie

La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la

Nirvana – The Man Who Sold The World

I rarely post covers but this is a good one. No one will ever top Bowie’s version to me but this one has a charm about it I like. Cobain did a good job on this.

David Bowie liked this cover saying, “I was simply blown away when I found that Kurt Cobain liked my work, and have always wanted to talk to him about his reasons for covering ‘The Man Who Sold the World’.”

What he didn’t like were the kids that come up after his show and say, ‘It’s cool you’re doing a Nirvana song.’ And I think, ‘F**k you, you little tosser!”

Nirvana performed it on the MTV Unplugged episode a few months before Kurt died.

The song peaked at #5 in the US Alternative Top 50, #22 in Canada, and #1 in Poland in 1995.

From Songfacts

This song is about a man who no longer recognizes himself and feels awful about it. For years, Bowie struggled with his identity and expressed himself through his songs, often creating characters to perform them. On the album cover, Bowie is wearing a dress.

Some of the lyrics are based on a poem by Hugh Mearns called The Psychoed:

As I was going up the stair
I met a man who was not there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish that man would go away

Some lyrical analysis: “We passed upon the stair” is a figurative representation of a crossroads in Bowie’s life, where Ziggy Stardust catches a glimpse of his former self, (being David Bowie) which he thought had died a long time ago. Then he (the old David Bowie) says: “Oh no, not me. I never lost control.” This indicates that Bowie never really lost sight of who he was, but he Sold The World (made them believe) that he had become Ziggy, and he thought it was funny (I laughed and shook his hand). He goes on to state, “For years and years I roamed,” which could refer to touring. “Gaze a gazely stare at all the millions here” are the fans at concerts. >>

The album is one of Bowie’s least known, but over the years many fans have come to appreciate it and a lot of bands have covered songs from it.

Critics weren’t always sure what to make of it either, but John Mendelssohn had a good handle on it when he wrote of the album in Rolling Stone magazine, 1971: “Bowie’s music offers an experience that is as intriguing as it is chilling, but only to the listener sufficiently together to withstand the schizophrenia.”

The British singer Lulu (“To Sir With Love”) recorded this in 1974. Bowie produced her version and played saxophone on the track. It went to #4 in the UK. Lulu spoke to Uncut magazine June 2008 about her recording: “I first met Bowie on tour in the early ’70s when he invited me to his concert. And back at the hotel, he said to me, in very heated language, ‘I want to make an MF of a record with you. You’re a great singer.’ I didn’t think it would happen, but he followed up two days later. He was uber cool at the time and I just wanted to be led by him. I didn’t think ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ was the greatest song for my voice, but it was such a strong song in itself. In the studio, Bowie kept telling me to smoke more cigarettes, to give my voice a certain quality. We were like the odd couple. Were we ever an item? I’d rather not answer that one, thanks!
For the video, people thought he came up with the androgynous look, but that was all mine. It was very Berlin cabaret. We did other songs, too, like ‘Watch That Man,’ ‘Can You Hear Me?’ and ‘Dodo.’ ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ saved me from a certain niche in my career. If we’d have carried on, it would have been very interesting.”

Nirvana recorded this for their 1993 MTV Unplugged performance. It was Chad Channing, who was Nirvana’s drummer from 1988-1990, who introduced Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic to Bowie’s music. Chad told us: “We were in Boston and stopped by this record store, and I found this copy of The Man Who Sold The World. It was a cool copy – it had the poster in it and everything. And those guys weren’t familiar with the record. And I inquired about, ‘What David Bowie do you like? Do you like David Bowie?’ And they’re like, ‘Well, the only David Bowie we’re familiar with is ‘Let’s Dance.’ I was surprised. I was like, ‘Really? Wow.’ I was like, ‘You’ve got to hear some early David Bowie, for sure.’

So when I got the opportunity, I made a tape of the record at somebody’s house, and then while we were touring around I just went ahead and popped the tape in and let it roll. After a bit, Kurt turned around and said to me, ‘Who is this?’ kind of like knowingly, just something familiar with the voice and stuff. I said, ‘Well, this is David Bowie. This is The Man Who Sold the World record.’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, this is really cool.’ I said, ‘You should check out Hunky Dory and stuff.’ And so eventually, I’m sure he did. But he totally dug it.”

Months after the MTV show, Kurt Cobain was found dead. The acoustic set was released as an album in late 1994.

Bauhaus lead singer Peter Murphy called this “the first true goth record.”

Beck performed this song with Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear at the annual Clive Davis Grammy pre-party on February 14, 2016 in tribute to Bowie, who passed away a month earlier. “He’s always been kind of guidepost or gravitational force for me,” Beck said of Bowie.

On March 29, 2016, Michael Stipe performed this song on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, accompanied only by a piano. Two days later, Stipe sang “Ashes To Ashes” with Karen Elston at a Bowie tribute concert held at Carnegie Hall.

 

The video of The Man Who Sold The World has been giving me troubles…if it is not below…here is the link.

The Man Who Sold The World

We passed upon the stair
We spoke of was and when
Although I wasn’t there
He said I was his friend
Which came as a surprise
I spoke into his eyes
I thought you died alone
A long long time ago

Oh no, not me
We never lost control
You’re face to face
With the man who sold the world

I laughed and shook his hand
And made my way back home
I searched for form and land
For years and years I roamed
I gazed a gazeless stare
We marked a million hills
I must have died alone
A long, long time ago

Who knows?
Not me
I never lost control
You’re face to face
With the man who sold the world

Who knows?
Not me
We never lost control
You’re face to face
With the man who sold the world

David Bowie – Heroes

The song was written by David Bowie and Brian Eno and was on the Heroes album released in 1977. The song peaked at #24 in the UK Charts, #35 in New Zealand, and #11 in Australia in 1978. The song recharted again in 2016. The album peaked at #35 in the Billboard Album Charts, #3 in the UK, #15 in New Zealand, #6 in Australia, and #44 in Canada.

After burn out because of touring Bowie moved to Berlin and rented a cheap apartment above an auto-repair shop, which is where he wrote this album.

Bowie made a video for this song which aired on the Bing Crosby Christmas special. In 1977 Crosby recorded a Christmas special in London called Merrie Olde Christmas, playing the England theme to the hilt. Bowie agreed to sing a duet with Crosby, which became the famous “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth” mashup. Bowie’s “Heroes” video also aired on the show with an introduction by Crosby. The show aired in November 1977, about a month after Crosby died.

Bowie talked about the song:

“It’s a bitch to sing, ‘cos I really have to give it some towards the end. I pace myself throughout the show and often place it near to a point where I can take a vocal break afterward. As long as I’m touring I don’t see a time when I won’t be singing ‘Heroes.’ It’s a good one to belt out and I get a kick out of it every time.”

From Songfacts

This song tells the story of a German couple who are so determined to be together that they meet every day under a gun turret on The Berlin Wall. Bowie, who was living in Berlin at the time, was inspired by an affair between his producer Tony Visconti and backup singer Antonia Maass, who would kiss “by the wall” in front of Bowie as he looked out of the Hansa Studio window. Bowie didn’t mention Visconti’s role in inspiring this song until 2003, when he told Performing Songwriter magazine: “I’m allowed to talk about it now. I wasn’t at the time. I always said it was a couple of lovers by the Berlin Wall that prompted the idea. Actually, it was Tony Visconti and his girlfriend. Tony was married at the time. And I could never say who it was (laughs). But I can now say that the lovers were Tony and a German girl that he’d met whilst we were in Berlin. I did ask his permission if I could say that. I think possibly the marriage was in the last few months, and it was very touching because I could see that Tony was very much in love with this girl, and it was that relationship which sort of motivated the song.” 

Robert Fripp, formerly of King Crimson, played guitar on this track. His band, King Crimson, performed the song at the Admiralspalast in Berlin on September 11, 2016 in celebration of Bowie. This version was released on an EP called Heroes in 2017.

Brian Eno, formerly of Roxy Music, helped Bowie write and produce this. Eno moved to Berlin with Bowie and worked on his albums LowHeroes, and Lodger. These albums were much more experimental and less commercial than Bowie’s previous work, but they still sold well in England.

Co-writer Eno said of this in the April 2007 Q Magazine: “It’s a beautiful song. But incredibly melancholy at the same time. We can be heroes, but actually, we know that something’s missing, something’s lost.”

Bowie released versions of this song in English, German, and French. The German version is called “Helden”; the French is “Héros.”

Featured in this song are not only Brian Eno’s synthesizer and Robert Fripp’s guitar, but also producer Tony Visconti banging on a metal ashtray that was lying around the studio.

This song is featured in the films Christiane F (1981) and The Parole Officer (2001). It also ended up as a Microsoft commercial theme.

Bowie played this at Live Aid from Wembley Stadium, England in 1985, and also at the Berlin Wall in 1987. Regarding the later performance, Bowie said in his Performing Songwriter interview: “I’ll never forget that. It was one of the most emotional performances I’ve ever done. I was in tears. They’d backed up the stage to the wall itself so that the wall was acting as our backdrop. We kind of heard that a few of the East Berliners might actually get the chance to hear the thing, but we didn’t realize in what numbers they would. And there were thousands on the other side that had come close to the wall. So it was like a double concert where the wall was the division. And we would hear them cheering and singing along from the other side. God, even now I get choked up. It was breaking my heart. I’d never done anything like that in my life, and I guess I never will again. When we did ‘Heroes’ it really felt anthemic, almost like a prayer. However well we do it these days, it’s almost like walking through it compared to that night, because it meant so much more. That’s the town where it was written, and that’s the particular situation that it was written about. It was just extraordinary. We did it in Berlin last year as well – ‘Heroes’ – and there’s no other city I can do that song in now that comes close to how it’s received. This time, what was so fantastic is that the audience – it was the Max Schmeling Hall, which holds about 10-15,000 – half the audience had been in East Berlin that time way before. So now I was face-to-face with the people I had been singing it to all those years ago. And we were all singing it together. Again, it was powerful. Things like that really give you a sense of what performance can do. They happen so rarely at that kind of magnitude. Most nights I find very enjoyable. These days, I really enjoy performing. But something like that doesn’t come along very often, and when it does, you kind of think, ‘Well, if I never do anything again, it won’t matter.'”

The Wallflowers covered this in 1998. Their version was used on the soundtrack to the movie Godzilla.

The single version, which appears on the ChangesBowie album, is shortened, leaving out a good chunk of the first verse.

Bowie first performed this on a television show hosted by his friend Marc Bolan, who was the lead singer for T-Rex. A week later, Bolan died when his girlfriend crashed their car into a tree.

Bowie played this at the “Concert For New York.” Organized by Paul McCartney, it was a tribute to the police, firemen, and rescue workers involved in the 2001 World Trade Center attacks.

Blondie recorded a live cover on January 12, 1980 at The Hammersmith Odeon. It can be found on the disc Blondie and Beyond.

This was originally an instrumental composition, whose title was a reference to the 1975 track “Hero” by the German Krautrock band Neu!.

The finalists from the seventh series of The X Factor released a cover version in November 2010 in aid of armed forces charity Help For Heroes, which topped both the UK and Irish Singles Charts. The choice of song follows a trend as in 2008, the fifth series of X Factor finalists reached #1 with a cover of Mariah Carey’s “Hero.”
Despite a plethora of cover versions from other acts over the years, the X Factor 2010 Finalists are the first act aside from Bowie ever to have a hit single with the song.

What became the “official” video for the song was shot later in September 1977 and directed by Nick Ferguson, a painter who also did set design and directed various film and TV projects.

Janelle Monae recorded a cover for a 2014 Pepsi football-based advertising campaign “Now Is What You Make It.” Asked by The Guardian if she needed Bowie’s permission to use his song, the R&B songstress replied: “Oh, he’s a fan. He’s aware of me. His wife Iman is a huge supporter and she has told me countless times what a big fan he is. So he had to clear me doing the song and I’m so grateful.”

This song is central in the 2012 film The Perks of Being a Wallflower, starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson. You hear it more than once throughout the movie. 

Something of an underachiever when originally released, “Heroes” peaked at a lowly #24 back in 1977 in the UK and failed to make the Hot 100. In the week after David Bowie’s death, the song finally made the Top 20 in the country of his birth, leaping into the chart at #12.

Album Version

Single Version

Heroes

I, I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins
Like dolphins can swim

Though nothing, nothing will keep us together
We can beat them, forever and ever
Oh, we can be heroes just for one day

I, I will be King
And you, you will be Queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can be heroes just for one day
We can be us just for one day

I, I can remember
(I remember)
Standing by the wall
(By the wall)
And the guns, shot above our heads
(Over our heads)
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall
(Nothing could fall)

And the shame, was on the other side
Oh, we can beat them, forever and ever
Then we could be heroes just for one day

We can be heroes
We can be heroes
We can be heroes just for one day
We can be heroes