Time Will Crawl- David Bowie

On Sunday 10th January 2016, the world lost one of music’s icon.  David Bowie fought an 18 months long battle with cancer, and lost at the age of 69....

On Sunday 10th January 2016, the world lost one of music’s icon.  David Bowie fought an 18 months long battle with cancer, and lost at the age of 69. He was one of the most influential musicians of this era, a man who was flamboyant to say the least. Undoubtedly, Bowie surpassed boundaries and challenged, perhaps changed,  the way people thought about music and gender.

In his music, Bowie was never explicit in protesting about injustices, but it was because of his actions and bold statements that he managed to redefine things, and challenge norms. For example, he became an icon of the LGBT community in the years, as he constantly challenged gender norms in the way he dressed and behaved. Two years after his marriage with his first wife Angie, in 1972, Bowie declared he was gay.  That same year, dressed in a dazzling costume, hair dyed red, at the Show on Mars, Bowie presented one of his most famous personas, and some would say one of the world’s greatest gay icons: Ziggy Stardust.

In England, homosexuality had been legalised just a few years before, and  seeing a bisexual androgynous alien rockstar, dressed in a tight lycra bodysuit put his arm around his guitarist Mick Ronson and staring intensely into his eyes served as a landmark moment for young people trying to figure out their sexuality. The show was watched by 14 million people. His later Ziggy shows were extremely theatrical and controversial for that time. They included shocking stage moment such as Bowie stripping down to a Sumo wrestling loincloth or simulating oral sex with Ronson’s guitar.

David Bowie wrote various protest songs such as New Killer Star, criticising post 9/11 abuses in the Middle east, I Am Afraid of Americans, criticising American society, or 87 and Cry that explores the negativities of living in England under Margaret Thatcher. In his songs, the political protest was never explicit, he once declared:

“I’m not a political commentator, but I think there are times when I’m stretched to at least implicate what’s happening politically in the songs that I’m writing,”

Time Will Crawl, is one of Bowie’s strong and blatant protest songs. Released in 1987 as the second track of his album Never Let Me Down, the song was inspired by the horrific disaster of Chernobyl in April 1986. It deals with the pollution and devastation of the Earth by corporations.

The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred at a nuclear plant in the town of Pripyat, Ukraine.  An explosion released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which spread over much of the western USSR and Europe. Considered the worst nuclear accident in history in terms of cost and casualties, it involved 500 thousand workers trying to contain the contamination, 31 direct deaths and thousands of people who were affected with deformities and other long-term effects such as cancer.

Bowie war recording at Mountain Studios in Switzerland when the accident happened. The juxtaposition of the place he was in (beautiful and filled with pure air) and the cloud of death that was approaching Europe affected the singer very much. In the song, Bowie describes and apocalyptic scene awaiting humanity, and sense of powerlessness of people awaiting death by the hands of others. Bowie’s first lines are a run of consecutive humilities, a man bowing to church and government (compared to just another poor animal), while the last refer to the beginning of big science: soon enough “we only smelled the gas/when we lay down to sleep.” Other blatant references to pollution include ” I saw a black black stream/ Full of white eyed fish/And a drowning man/With no eyes at all”.

In 2008, Bowie released a remixed/re-recorded version of “Time Will Crawl,” which he said was meant to correct the sins of its production and so reclaim one of his best songs of the period.

“Time will crawl, till our tails fall off”

 

Just five years ago, the accident at Fukushima Nuclear plant, reminded the world of the horrors of nuclear accidents. Man is continuing to exploit nature and destroying it in the process, and it is important to be conscious of this, and to work to fight for our earth. All the better if David Bowie is the one to help us remember.

Rest in Peace.

 

I’ve never sailed on a sea
I would not challenge a giant
I could not take on the church
Time will crawl
Till the 21st century lose

I know a government man
He was as blind as the moon
He saw the sun in the night
He took a top-gun pilot and he
He made him fly thru a hole
Till he grew real old
And he never came down
He just flew till he burst

Time will crawl
Till our mouths
run dry
Time will crawl
Till our feet
grow small
Time will crawl
Till our tails
fall off
Time will crawl
till the 21st century lose

I saw a black black stream
Full of white eyed fish
And a drowning man
With no eyes at all
I felt a warm warm breeze
That melted metal and steel
I got a bad migraine
That lasted three long years
And the pills that I took
Made my fingers disappear

Time will crawl, time will crawl
Time will crawl
Till the 21st century lose

You were a talented child
You came to live in our town
We never bothered to scream
When your mask came off
We only smelt the gas
As we lay down to sleep

Time will crawl
and our heads bowed down
Time will crawl
and our eyes fall out
Time will crawl
and the streets run red
Time will crawl
till the 21st century lose

Time will crawl
and our mouths run dry
Time will crawl
and our feet grow small
Time will crawl
and our tails fall off
Time will crawl
till the 21st century lose

Time will crawl
and our heads bowed down
Time will crawl
and our eyes fall out
Time will crawl
and the streets run red
Time will crawl
till the 21st century lose

For the crazy child
We’ll give every life
For the crackpot notion

Categories
Sounds from the Bucket
Virginia Vigliar

Virginia is a freelance journalist and editor based in Barcelona, consults for Oxfam in Spain and the Netherlands, and she is the Chief Editor of WIB. She is a passionate advocate of human rights and freedom of speech. And a meme enthusiast. She has worked in the development sector in Malawi and Kenya and Somalia before returning to Europe, where she gained experience in the United Kingdom, Norway, and Spain. To see her work, look at her website here: http://virginiavigliar.com/
No Comment

Leave a Reply

*

*

RELATED BY