This morning, Twitter awoke to a rush of hashtags when it was announced that Bowie - who you’ll remember as either Ziggy Stardust or Jareth the Goblin King depending on your age and musical taste - is back. David Bowie marked his 66th birthday by releasing a new single, Where Are We Now?, ahead of his first album in 10 years.
It’s important you know this is huge news. He hasn’t performed live in seven years and the last time he was seen, publicly, walking to a shop while carrying a plastic bag (possibly of juice), it encouraged several tabloids of varying reputation to construct entire news stories around his appearance. Up until then, the general consensus has been that Bowie had retired. Other rumours suggested this was enforced by poor health. His return feels messianic.
I developed a crush on Bowie aged 8 while watching Labyrinth and decided that I wanted to be him. Eventually, this turned into my wanting to be with him. David Bowie, or rather Ziggy Stardust, is also the reason I have red hair. It’s the reason I cut it off too, as a teenager, and ill-advisedly spiked it. He's the reason I wore space-age make-up and the reason I taught myself basic German - I wanted to sing Heroes in German after watching Christiane F. It was 2006 when my very world was rocked by news that he was performing live. I logged online in the university library to buy a ticket but it had already sold out. I was devastated, and spent the rest of the day alone in my halls watching him perform My Death in D. A. Pennebaker’s film on repeat, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. To surmise, he is that brilliant.
But what of the song? A spokesman said that Bowie was the sort of artist who "writes and performs what he wants when he wants". Cue this record, which is pared down, lo-fi and simple. A few violins and a little piano, it's almost a ballad, demarcated mainly by his wavering vocals, a perennial trademark. He sounds older and thoughtful. But it’s still very much Bowie. It’s most comparable with Bowie circa his Berlin era in the Seventies – hence the references to Nuremberg.
The video is comparably wacky. Directed by installation artist Tony Oursler, the theme is defiantly minimal and in keeping with the elegiac subject matter of the song. It's very weird, very budget - as one person said: 'the sort of thing that appears late at night on Channel 4'. But what does it matter. He's back, his album (his 30th studio recording and called The Next Day) will be released in March on Iso/Columbia record company and ho knows, maybe a tour will follow. Either way, I can’t miss this one.