In this modern age, you never know what things could be trending at any given point.
One day it could be tipping ice over your head, the next, flipping water bottles for school talent shows.
Thankfully, there are times when things of beauty break through the confusing, chaotic dialogue of cyberspace. In the months since the death of musical hero David Bowie, tributes have continuously poured out across the globe, with music, trivia, long-lost photos and beautiful stories emerging from friends, collaborators and beyond. Learning about the meaning behind crucial songs in an artist’s repertoire is often a beautiful experience, and today we’re looking at the meaning behind Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World.
In his book The Words and Music of David Bowie, author James Perone notes that the song deals with the theme of rejection from the wider community.
“Bowie encounters the title character, but it is not clear just what the phrase means, or exactly who this man is. … The main thing that the song does is to paint – however elusively – the title character as another example of the societal outcasts who populate the album.”
When Bowie himself was asked about the meaning behind the song, he noted that “for me….it exemplified how you feel when you’re young, and you know there is a piece of yourself that you haven’t really figured out together yet…this great need to find out who you really are.”
Bowie originally released the song in 1970 as the title track to his third album, with the song seeing rejuvenation twice due to covers by other artists.
Lulu‘s cover of the song in 1974 reached number 3 on the UK charts, while Nirvana‘s famous version, performed for their legendary MTV Unplugged introduced the song to a younger generation in 1993.
The simple fact that after 40 years the song is still inspiring so much discussion and debate proves that Bowie’s legacy will last for many years to come.