Monday, October 4, 2010

David Bowie - "Sense Of Doubt": A Story In Five Videos

David Bowie's "Sense Of Doubt", sourced from the 1977 record "Heroes", is one of the most demanding piece's from his catalog. Depending on your perspective, it can be meditative, morose, foreboding, or downright depressing. Regardless, the tune clearly resonated with Bowie, as it was a dominant part of his live show throughout the late 70's. The following videos give a number of perspectives on the tune in video form, and perhaps shed a little more light on an overlooked facet of the Bowie canon.

This first video is a promo that uses the original studio track, and was shot during (or close to) the "Heroes" album cover shoot. Bowie, in the same leather jacket as on the cover, makes his way through a number of poses that harken back to his mime days in the late sixties. This eerie, waxy, inhuman Bowie suits the song perfectly.

The second video was shot live on German television around the same time, and shows how painstakingly Bowie's band attempted to recreate the record's sound in a live environment. The performances live keyboards are slightly thinner than their recorded counterparts, but also seem to have an added soul and reality as they interact.

The third video was filmed at Hansa Studios, where the record was recorded, and features Bowie at "work" on the track. More promo video than actual live studio footage, it's painfully clear that Bowie is posing for the camera as the studio version of the track plays in the background. Not exactly authentic, but worthwhile for Bowie's undying sense of cool.

Bowie was determined to bring the most challenging bits of Low and "Heroes" to his fans, and the fourth video shows him doing exactly that. Filmed in a Dallas arena in 1978, the video shos Bowie managing to rope in a huge crowd to one of his most difficult and obscure pieces of writing.

The fifth and final video is actually just audio: Philip Glass' reinterpretation of "Sense Of Doubt" from his Heroes Symphony. The arrangement brings to light some of the more subtle moments of the piece, and allows it to escape from the confines of synthesizers and studio clarity.

While "Sense Of Doubt" (along with its companion on record, "Moss Garden") may appear to be some of Bowie's most difficult work, it is also some of his most rewarding. The fact that Bowie persevered in bringing it to his fans is not only a feat unto itself, but a testament to the integrity and seriousness with which he treated his own musical revelations.