David Bowie Celebrates 66th Birthday with First New Song in a Decade, Plus Vintage Videos

Note: If this ver­sion does­n’t play for you, find an alter­nate ver­sion here.

We can thank many of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s roy­al­ty for show­ing us how to age with style. Mick Jag­ger is still a pro­fes­sion­al rock­er, as dis­ci­plined and out­ra­geous as ever. Now David Bowie has intro­duced a new album—his first in a decade—on the day he cel­e­brat­ed his 66th birth­day.

Bowie’s new album The Next Day comes out in March, but a sin­gle, “Where Are We Now?,” is avail­able to down­load on iTunes. The song is love­ly and melan­choly, as is the accom­pa­ny­ing video, shot by artist Tony Oursler.

Bowie, offi­cial­ly in his late 60s, is in a nos­tal­gic mood. The video is set in a clut­tered artist’s stu­dio dom­i­nat­ed by pro­ject­ed images of Berlin in the late 1970s. The video is alter­nate­ly inscrutable (who is the woman whose face shares the two-head­ed pup­pet with Bowie while he sings?) and reflec­tive. The old Berlin footage, it turns out, is from Bowie’s old neigh­bor­hood where he once shared an apart­ment with Iggy Pop. Bowie moved to West Berlin in 1976 and record­ed his Berlin tril­o­gy—Low, Heroes and Lodger—with pro­duc­er Tony Vis­con­ti.

The Next Page was also pro­duced by Vis­con­ti, and that’s no coin­ci­dence. Bowie seems to be tak­ing stock of his musi­cal life, and that’s a lot to inven­to­ry. The con­ti­nu­ity between the new album and one of the rich­est peri­ods of his career bodes well for this lat­est work.

Bowie has also re-launched his web­site as part of the birth­day cel­e­bra­tion. He offers a new col­lec­tion of videos—some nev­er before broadcast—from his stel­lar stage career. As his audi­ence we get a chance to appre­ci­ate his breadth as an artist and the amaz­ing arc of his career. Dig the red boots in 1972’s Queen Bitch. This song endures after more than forty years. One of the best videos is an alter­nate take of Oh You Pret­ty Things from 1972. Bowie is young and brash at the piano in full Zig­gy Star­dust regalia. Look Back in Anger from 1979 shows the man at his rock­ing, oper­at­ic best. Even the less-than-stel­lar Let’s Dance from 1983 looks bet­ter now than it did at the time.

Watch­ing him per­form over the decades high­lights just how authen­tic Bowie’s artistry has been and con­tin­ues to be. When he flips his blond mop and croons into the micro­phone, he’s no poseur. He’s the real thing: a man try­ing on all the masks he can as a way to show all of him­self to the world.

This is one birth­day that won’t go for­got­ten. Thanks, David, for the ter­rif­ic par­ty.

Kate Rix writes about dig­i­tal media and edu­ca­tion. Read more of her work at .

by | Permalink | Comments (8) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (8)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.