Friday, September 25, 2009

David Bowie - "I Would Be Your Slave"

While David Bowie's 2002 release Heathen was largely hailed as a critical and commercial comeback for the man who fell to earth, its single releases were dominated largely by the album's more upbeat tracks. The shame in this is that it overlooks one of the album's most beautifully simple moments: the sycophantic love song "I Would Be Your Slave".

"I Would Be Your Slave" was actually one of the first tracks to be heard from Heathen, as Bowie debuted it at a Tibet House benefit the year prior. The Tibet House show gave a preview of an arrangement that would ultimately make it to the record: a simple arrangement driven primarily by bass and drums backed by a string quartet. The song itself takes on an almost droney quality, consisting of relatively few chords, with Bowie's voice driving the melody and direction of the song throughout.

All things being equal, however, the song's lyrics are it's true high point. Bowie is not one who's known for his vulnerability in lyric, or even for love songs in particular. That's what makes the tune just so fascinating: the lyrics are the simple plea of one who would do any and everything to win back the affections of another. In the end, it's the song's emotional honesty and vulnerability that wins us over every time; it's so simultaneously tragic, yet beautiful, that it really leaves the listener with a disquieting sense of pity.

Any Bowie moment is a good one, but this one's great. Give it a listen.

mp3: David Bowie - I Would Be Your Slave


Hanan said...

this is pretty cool, but definitely not my favourite by Bowie. it's quite different though, so thanks for sharing
I only have one other track from this album..."5:15 The Angels Have Gone"

Roger said...

I Would Be Your Slave is not a love song, but actually a bitter plea from the heathen to God. The heathen is asking God to reveal himself so he can believe in and worship him.

"No footprints in the sand" is a rejection of the famous parable.

"I bet you laugh out loud at me, a chance to strike me down, etc.."

Similarly, Everyone Says Hi is actually about bereavement.

Heathen is a fantastic album with great depth and sombre beauty.