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BowieTalk
   >> Interpretation
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jemma
(wild eyed peoploid)
09/10/02 05:13 PM
Re: Heroes - "just for one day" new [re: bibiStardust]  

becuase thats all you need.

If you were a hero for longer you wouldnt appreciate it.
i think the :

And you, you can be mean
And I, I'll drink all the time
'Cause we're lovers, and that is a fact
Yes we're lovers, and that is that

Though nothing, will keep us together
We could steal time, just for one day
We can be Heroes, for ever and ever
What d'you say?

is about if you were a hero for longer. it would become damaging. but if you were a hero for jsut one day the world wqould be your oyster.

i always thought the :

Standing, by the wall (by the wall)
And the guns, shot above our heads (over our heads)
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall

was all about the first kiss and how perfect it was and the guns were like fireworks.



Sysiyo
(acolyte)
09/11/02 02:06 AM
Re: Heroes - "just for one day" new [re: jemma]  

In reply to:

i always thought the :

Standing, by the wall (by the wall)
And the guns, shot above our heads (over our heads)
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall

was all about the first kiss and how perfect it was and the guns were like fireworks.


That line was inspired by Tony Visconti and the girl she was dating at the time (can't remember who it was right now). Bowie was writing the lyrics for "Heroes" during a break in the sessions, and he happened to look outside and there Tony and the girl were standing by the Wall and kissing. Also, when looking trough the same window you could see the soviet watchtowers with their machine guns and all stuff (the soviets often spyed the studio with binoculars ). But anyway, even though your interpretation is quote nice, I do not think it's quite accurate.

Bahnhof Zum Bahnhof

twister
(acolyte)
09/12/02 03:32 PM
Zero the "hero", first the worst... new [re: JonnyManic]  

In reply to:

I always thought of this as a projection of what their future would be like if they stayed together. After this, Bowie asks We can be Heroes, for ever and ever: What d'you say? suggesting that he is asking his lover whether she would want that kind of future.


Plausible too. But the way I see it, Bowie follows up his mean/drink lines with the explanation "'cause we're lovers, and that is a fact". I think saying they will act in this destructive way because the two of them are lovers suggests said destruction will be taken back to their respective marriages. Saying she would be mean and he drink all the time should they be together because they were lovers seems far less likely to me.

The term "heroes" is in quotation marks because it's intentionally supposed to be ironic. Their actions are in fact not at all heroic, very shameful in fact. Were it a simple case of a couple that have a short relationship but know they couldn't last long-term, there'd be nothing for them to feel ashamed of ("and the shame was on the other side") nor any of the irony that warrants the quotation marks for these self-proclaimed "heroes".

I could be a genius if I just put my mind to it.

JonnyManic
(cracked actor)
09/12/02 04:29 PM
"oh the irony" new [re: twister]  

When I see the line Yes we're lovers, and that is that, it indicates to me that all they have between them is this sexual relationship and nothing else. And that is that is a very final sounding statement.

So to me, he's saying that she'd be mean and he'd drink because they are lovers and they having nothing else. I know it seems odd considering the use of "love" but lovers usually seems to indicate a relationship based on sex, as opposed to "partners" or even "boyfriend and girlfriend"

Shut up! It's Daddy, you shithead! Where's my bourbon?

twister
(acolyte)
09/13/02 07:40 AM
don'tcha think? new [re: JonnyManic]  

I agree that "lovers" is, well, horrible and tacky and generally indicates a relationship based on sex. But don't you think this sound suspiciously similar to the kind of relationship one has when they're already married?

Particularly the reference to stealing time, and the "us and them" attitude of the song.

I could be a genius if I just put my mind to it.

TopperHarley
(grinning soul)
09/13/02 12:26 PM
Re: Heroes - "just for one day" new [re: ZiggyZane]  

Oh dear,

I just realized how much this song reminds me of an incident that took place in my life. It was not so long ago as I would like it to be, but I ran into this girl (all bad stories begin with the meeting of two representatives of the opposite sex, I think). She was somehow still with her boyfriend, I was madly in love and she was too, I guess.

But anyway, after a little while, I mentioned to her that our time together was stolen; it was not ours to begin with... and in fact we were "heroes" (including quotation marks) for a very short time, but of course we were doomed to fail.

Damn, another Bowie song that reminds me of something I would much rather forget!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
"I wrestle with an outlook on life that shifts between darkness and shadowy light" - David Sylvian

Davidsloveslave
(wild eyed peoploid)
09/15/02 11:07 AM
Re: Heroes - "just for one day" new [re: th0mas]  

I thought the whole song was a berlin wall thing..I always have trouble getting the italics and such to work, so I'll just enter twice..

'I remember, standing by the wall
and the guns, shot above our heads
and we kissed as though nothing could fall
and the shame was on the other side..'

lovers who are on opposite sides of the berlin wall, maybe?

'We are such stuff as dreams are made of'

schizophrenic
(electric tomato)
09/15/02 11:39 AM
Re: Heroes - "just for one day" new [re: ZiggyZane]  

I think it mirrors the hopelessness of their situation.

Too cool for a siggy, too dumb for the rest of the world.

AdamModerator
(crash course raver)
09/15/02 12:28 PM
Re: Heroes - "just for one day" [re: schizophrenic]  

The lyric paints both a great romanticism (I will be king, you will be queen) and a stark realism (you can be mean, and I'll drink all the time). The couple are romanticising - perhaps role playing - to escape their difficult reality.

The lines "nothing will drive away" and "we can beat them" conjures up a more omnipresent force than a love triangle, a difficult relationship, or one that is based purely on sex.

Not only was "the shame was on on the other side" (of the Berlin Wall) but the wall was a key reminder of the World War 2 atrocities - the great shame of all Germans. When Bowie saw a couple meet beside the wall (probably Visconti and his girlfriend), I think it portrayed a great romantic image - one which was almost indentical to Lovers Behind Garden Walls a painting from which Bowie was also inspired.

The lyric is about holding hope against impossible odds. That's why it has been used for a multitude of charity causes.

Get Bowie Downunder

WildWind
(acolyte)
09/15/02 12:33 PM
Heroes - for never and never new [re: ZiggyZane]  

Whew! I have pretty strong feelings about the interpretation of this song, but I have quite enjoyed reading others' input. Fresh, well-thought-out perspectives are always enjoyable.

I enjoy jemma's take that being a Hero for one day is positive while being a Hero for longer would be damaging, and it's nice to think of the song in a more positive context than I always have, even if I don't entirely agree.

My interpetation has always been grounded in Bowie's past declaration that the song was inspired by seeing lovers living on opposite sides of the Berlin wall rendezvousing in secret (as I understood it, that is. Sysiyo's assertion that it is specifically Visconti that inspired it, if that is indeed the case, changes things a bit. Nevertheless, I shall press on). Given that, I see the song as these two people choosing to imagine their secret rendezvous something brilliant and special, something that makes them "king and queen," something that makes them able to overcome their impossible circumstances. This makes them Heroes for one day, as in that moment they are indeed bigger than their surroundings. We, the listeners, however, know that this is all false and that their relationship is doomed, that they are essentially kidding themselves, which is why they are "Heroes" and not Heroes. My interpretation below does repeat a bit of what others have said, but I need to put it in an entire context.

Examining the key lines:

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be Heroes, just for one day


This is essentially what I said above. They believe that they are beating it for one day, that they are a King and Queen, that they are Heroes. But the key is that "Nothing will drive them away," that is, the Powers That Be and the politics that are keeping them apart are not going anywhere.

And you, you can be mean
And I, I'll drink all the time
'Cause we're lovers, and that is a fact
Yes we're lovers, and that is that


Perhaps it's just my love affair with beer, but unlike others, I believe that "being mean" and "drinking all the time" are positive things, as JohnnyManic suggested, a dream of them having a normal life together. Really, being mean and drinking aren't bad things, they're things that happen occasionally, that you overlook when you're with someone you love. And that's what the latter two lines are saying: We're lovers, so these things wouldn't matter.

Now, I tend to agree in a modern context with JohnnyManic and twister's assesment of the word "lover" as merely sexual, but in the context of this song, I don't think that's the case. For one thing, it was 1977, and they spoke a little funny back then. Furthermore, as a song, that's what fits.

I, I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim


The dolphins represent freedom that the two can never have.

Though nothing, nothing will keep us together
We can beat them, for ever and ever
Oh we can be Heroes, just for one day


Note the contrast between "for ever and ever" and "just for one day." The suggestion is that by overcoming these incredible odds once, they're having an effect that is eternal. We, of course, know that this isn't true, but that is what they believe.

I, I can remember (I remember)
Standing, by the wall (by the wall)
And the guns, shot above our heads (over our heads)
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall)


This is literal - they are kissing as war rages above them - but nothing else matters at that moment but their kiss. This is why they believe they are Heroes - they have damned the forces that would keep them apart.

And the shame, was on the other side

They have been told that they should feel shame because they are in this politically forbidden relationship, but believing that this explosion of love is really important and really means something puts the shame on those that would keep them apart.

We're nothing, and nothing will help us
Maybe we're lying, then you better not stay
But we could be safer, just for one day


This is fairly obvious - it's the acceptance that their situation is hopeless. The switch from "Heroes" to "safer" underscores this. They're not Heroes; that was just a lie they told themselves to try to make themselves believe that their brief rendezvous actually meant something in their impossible political situation.

So - that's the narrative. But the message of the song goes a little deeper, and is indeed very very sad. The ultimate message of the song is that no matter how much you kid yourself, you cannot be bigger than your surroundings, and you're always subject to external factors over which you have no control. The love between the characters of the song is real, but it isn't enough to overcome their political circumstances. Ultimately, the song is a message of despair and hopelessness, no matter how much they - and we - would like to believe that that sort of "heroism" is possible.

This interpretation isn't altogether different from twister's interesting affair interpretation, except the factors that are keeping them apart are political rather than their marriages, and it makes it all the sadder that their motives are pure, but the circumstances of their surroundings doom their relationship.

WW

I like beer with my air.


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