Heathen Lyrical Analysis
This Is The Trip
In the song 'Sunday', David Bowie sings "This is the trip." "Rise together through these clouds as on wings." Castle-building always requires one to climb high into the clouds. The daydreamer/seeker must be prepared to pay the price for love and peace, prepared to deal with the cloudbursts, the floods, the wind and rain of thunderstorms. The thunderbolts in the gathering clouds strike him down. Future fear and foreboding loom. He attempts to shake his tight fist at the menacing skies yet the darkness prevails. The "tripper" is now caught and trapped in murky shadows and the rainclouds are everywhere. His reverie and musing is shaken to the core, his romantic idealism relegated to a sea of troubles. He quickly moves from ecstasy to lovesickness, homesickness as the tides begin to rise.
In 'Slip Away', Bones Boy and Oogie escape. They don't want to stay behind. They make thier get away and give us the slip. They slip through our fingers. They attempt to break out in search of freedom and deliverance. It's a trip over Coney Island. The sailor rides the storm yet again. Will he drift in space or hug the shore or forever slip away?
In 'Afraid' the spiritual seeker used to walk on clouds. He knew how to navigate the storms. Once upon a time the foul weather and dirty sky didn't frighten him. Now he's even lost on the shore. He used to stir up the seas, ride ocean waves without any qualms, unafraid of cloudy skies. Now he wants to touch solid ground, even if it means "walking an empty mile."
In 'I Would Be Your Slave' the travel-stained searcher walks in the snowy street. He drifts down a silent path. The wandering explorer "stumbles over land." He searches for "footsteps in the sand." This is a pilgrimage of peace, a voyage into the soul of a beloved guardian angel, a trip into the heart of a divine lover.
In 'Gemini Spacecraft' the trip takes the explorer through the shadow of Jupiter. The celestial nomad orbits the moon for just one time. He looks back to see the stardust trail. Is he searching for the "footprints in the sand" again? Has his guardian angel left any tracks or traces in the night sky? In this song the divine beloved seems so far away!
In '5:15 The Angels Have Gone' the traveler is changing trains. The little town he came from let him down. Now even the "foreign rain" is bringing him down. Those pesty rainclouds again! His train is overdue and he hasn't even got his ticket, so he's jumping the tracks. A perpetual outcast, he's been abandoned by his angels all of his life!
In 'Everyone Says Hi' the wayfarer took a big trip. He moved away so quickly nobody even knew he was gone. Rumour has it he sailed a big ship. The lyrics invoke a heavy nostalgia for what might or should have been. The song reeks of regret and blighted hope on the one hand, and a feeling that the main character has finally found his homeland, on the other. At journey's end, perhaps, the traveler has found refuge from the storms. This eternal outsider may have ultimately found peace of mind. No longer unhoused and nomadic, perhaps, he has found sanctuary once and for all!
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