Abdulmajid. This Bowie/Eno song did not appear on the initial release of "Heroes." The song was a 'bonus track' on the re-release of "Heroes" by RykoDisc in 1991. The song also appears on Philip Glass's "Heroes" Symphony.
Beauty and the Beast. This song was released as a single on January 6, 1978, and reached #39 on the British charts. The song is based on the children's story of the same name. Supposedly, Bowie was entranced with the attraction and contrast between angel and devil. RCA released a promotional 12-inch extended version of this song in 1977. The song was 1:46 seconds longer than the version on the album, and 'Fame' was on the B side. Click here to view the 12-inch record cover. Click here to see Kely Mi's interpretation of 'Beauty and the Beast.'
Blackout. There are three interpretations of this song. The most common interpretation suggests that the song was based on the panic and confusion during the famous New York City blackout in July??, 1977. Another interpretation suggests that this song is an autobiograpical account of Bowie's alcoholic blackouts which occurred prior to his move to Berlin. The phrases 'Get me to the doctor,' 'Get me off the streets,' and 'Get me on my feet' are consistent with this interpretation. The third interpretation suggests that the song simply describes Angie Bowie's visit to see Bowie in Berlin. The phrases 'She was a beauty in a cage' and 'I've been told someone is back in town' seem to support this interpretation. Knowing Bowie's style of writing, this song probably integrates all three scenarios.
From the promotional album 'Bowie Now': Inspired by newspaper accounts of New York's own...mental failure, emotional breakdown..."Get me off the streets, get me on my feet"..."Nothing to lose, nothing to gain"...
Joe the Lion. This song was based on the self-imposed cruxification of a California performance artist, Chris Burden, who nailed himself to the roof of a volkswagon. Notes: Robert Fripp supplied the guitar melody in the song. 'Joe the Lion' was remixed in 1991 and appears on RykoDisc's re-release of "Heroes" in 1991.
From 'Bowie Now': Compassion for people and the desperate situations they've gotten into...illustration of future panic and social disintegration..."nail me to my car, and I'll show you who are you"...Christ-like madman haunting the late nite-spots with murder and terror in mind (Son of Sam? Boston Strangler?)...breathlessly psychotic...song runs at 4 or 5 speeds simultaneously.
Taken from an interview with David Bowie in huH magazine, Sept 95.
"Chris Burden, he was an extraordinary guy. He was the subject of a song I wrote called "Joe the Lion" on Heroes. He's the guy - [singing] `Nail me to my car, tell you who you are.'". He also made a film where he had himself sewn into a mailbag and thrown in the middle of a highway, where he lay for 5 hours in heavy traffic and emerged unscathed. And he once had himself shot in the arm with a .22 onstage."
"Once he created a gun machine," chuckles Bowie. "He had a chair like this and a little rack in front with a .45 aimed there, right at the head of whoever was to sit in the chair. And there was a sign on it that said: `This gun has a bullet in the chamber and it is timed to go off sometime between now and 100 years time.'" Bowie starts cackling maniacally. "And it was your choice to go and sit in the chair for a second or two, or going, like [sneaking into the chair for a millisecond, then dashing back out] Hahahahahaha!! Just to say that they did it. Cause you didn't know when it was gonna go off."
"It's very funny isn't it? He did the same thing with a building, where he reduced the formal structure of the building in such a way where it could collapse any second! And then he had an alleyway cut all the way through the basement so that people could go through! [David totally cracks up at this] So they're walking under a building that was liable to collapse any second in time! Hahahahah!"
Click here to see Kely Mi's interpretation of 'Joe the Lion.'
Moss Garden. This instrumental incorporates a Japanese style in which Bowie played the Koto, a 6-foot long stringed instrument. According to Bowie, Moss Garden is located in Kyoto, Japan. Although this song has a Japanese influence, Bowie supposedly wanted the sound to reflect the sub-standard living condition of his Turkish neighborhood of Neukolln (see below). Click here to see Kely Mi's interpretation of 'Moss Garden.'
Neukoln. This instrumental was named after the Turkish neighborhood in which Bowie lived. Actually, the correct spelling is 'Neukolln.' The song also appears on Philip Glass's "Heroes" Symphony.
From 'Bowie Now': An area in Berlin where Turks live in very bad ghetto conditions...an isolated community unnervingly and vividly surreal...instrumental impressionism...Eastern sounds...Bowie blows outrageous sax...jazz riffs above Fripp and Eno's glacial overture of rising chords.
Secret Life of Arabia. This song was written by Bowie, Eno, and Carlos Alomar. Critics often feel that this song is not consistent with the overall feeling on the album. The song is about the movie 'Lawrence of Arabia' in which secrets and lies were rampant.
From 'Bowie Now': Unashamedly romatic yet tongue-in-cheek.
Sense of Doubt. This was the side B song of 'Beauty and the Beast' single. Bowie and Eno selected cards at random from the Oblique Strategy card set to determine how to organize the song. The song conveys the feeling of gloominess and introspection. The song also appears on Philip Glass's "Heroes" Symphony. Click here to see Kely Mi's interpretation of 'Sense of Doubt.'
Sons of the Silent Age. This song is often interpreted as Bowie's reflections on the 1976-77 popularity in punk music. During this time period, record companies were indiscriminantly signing punk bands who sang primarily about anarchy. The song also appears on Philip Glass's "Heroes" Symphony.
From 'Bowie Now': "All I see, is what I know" ...fragmented lyrics are a juxtaposition of traditional chorus with cut-up William Burroughs-style verse.
Click here to see Kely Mi's interpretation of 'Sons of the Silent Age.'
V-2 Schneider. This was the side B song of "Heroes" and is Bowie's tribute to Florian Schneider. Schneider was a member of the German group, Kraftwerk, and a pioneer in techno/electronic music. In the title, it appears that Bowie compares Schneider's musical influence to the V-2 rocket which was used during WWII by the Nazi's. The song also appears on Philip Glass's "Heroes" Symphony.
From album 'Bowie Now': Bowie's tribute to Kraftwerk's Florian Schneider...splendidly demented...check Bowie's multi-tracked saxophones.