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LaughingGnoome
(kook)
03/23/03 04:57 PM
Lodger - Im just a Travelling Man  

The sequencing of songs on Lodger, has the first half of the album filled with songs concerned with foreign places. And the second half songs are more generic, dealing with the music scene (DJ), Spousal Abuse (Repetition), The Male Condition (Boys Keep Swinging), and religion/sex/guilt (Look Back In Anger).

In the first half, the album starts off with Fantastic Voyage, which even though it isnt specifically fixed to a particular place, sends out the aroma's of generational conflict and mutual hatred, that fixes the song in my mind to the middle east, in particular to the Lebanon-Israeli-Syrian conflict, which was in full swing when the song was written. Particularly the following lines...

"We're learning to live with somebody's depression
And I don't want to live with somebody's depression
We'll get by, I suppose
It's a very modern world, but nobody's perfect
It's a moving world, but that's no reason
To shoot some of those missiles
Think of us as fatherless scum
It won't be forgotten
'Cause we'll never say anything nice again, will we?"

I could describe each individual line and how it relates to that war in detail, but that would make this thread too long.

The second song is African Night Flight. Yes this is about Bowie dreaming of (or actually doing) going on Safari. The music has a furious pace that evokes images of herding wild animals and banging african drums. There are noises in the song that definitely sound like wild animals.

"Getting in mood for a Mombassa night flight
Pushing my luck, gonna fly like a mad thing
Bare strip takeoff skimming over Rhino"

Perhaps to get away from the more mundane issues of record contracts and corporate agreements...

"Undermine chairman I went too far
Bent on a windfall rent a sony
Wonder how the dollar went down"

There is an element of the song that suggests an unhappy relationship on his part...

"Struggle with a child whose screaming dreaming
Drowned by the props all steely sunshine
Sick of you, sick of me
Lust for the free life
Quashed and maimed
Like a valuable loved one
Left unnamed"

Especially "sick of you, sick of me, lust for the free life crushed and maimed, like a valuable loved one, left unnamed." This seems to echo "Because Your Young" and could be about his relationship with Angie, with the "valuable loved one left unnamed" - his son. Then the "child" who's "screaming dreaming drowned by the props all steely sunshine", would be Bowie wishing to give more freedom to his son, and take him away from claustrophobic City life - the "props all steely sunshine", to a place where his "screaming dreaming" would not be "drowned".

"His burning eye will see me through" - yet another occular reference in a Bowie song, evokes images of worship of an ancient God. Perhaps something he saw while in Africa.

Next we have Move On, this is easily the most travel inspired song, Bowie ever wrote. The following lines sum it up nicely.

"Sometimes I feel
The need to move on
So I pack a bag
And move on"

Also the following lines.

"Well I might take a train
Or sail at dawn"

And especially the following line.

"I'm just a travelling man"

I hinted in African Night Flight above, that he might be trying to find freedom, and escape from the missus. This is further suggested by the following lines.

"Maybe it's just a trick of the mind, but
Somewhere there's a morning sky
Bluer than her eyes"

The following hints at actual places he has visited or might do.

"Africa is sleepy people
Russia has its horsemen
Spent some nights in old Kyoto
Sleeping on the matted ground

Cyprus is my island
When the going's rough
I would love to find you
Somewhere in a place like that"

It is almost like he is trying to escape, that when his normal life gets tough - "When the chips are down", he "moves on".

The song itself, also sounds like a love song, to a special person he has not yet met, that he is hoping to meet someone in these places."Somewhere, someone's calling me", "I would love to find you Somewhere in a place like that". That he has made it his mission to find someone special, with whom to share his life, a mission he must not forget. The lines "Can't forget you Can't forget you", seem to suggest he is not succeeding, in forgeting about his problems, by travelling.

Next song is Yassassin, Turkish for "long life" according to TW lyrics page. Here he has been travelling again, and met some Turkish man, much of whos words are here. The strange exotic music (blend of turkish and jamaican music according to TW) evokes images of markets and foreign cultures nicely, much as African Night Flights music strongly evoked those cultures.

"Yassassin - I'm not a moody guy
Yassassin - I walk without a sound
Yassassin - Just a working man, no judge of men
Yassassin - But such a life I've never known"

The final song in Bowies travel catalogue on Lodger, is Red Sails. The song restates the travel-escape message of some of the other songs, especially "move on" , when he sings...

"Feel a bit roughed up, feel a bit frightened
Nearly pin it down some time
Red sail action wake up in the wrong town
Boy, I really get around"

And

"Thunder ocean
Red sails take me, make me sail along"

The next few lines, led me to think the song was written to his son, and the "you" in the song is his son, and "another person" is his wife. Green would be his son (green = young inexperienced), Black and Red would be Bowie and his wife, Black meaning depressed, Red meaning angry. Is there a flag of a country that is green black and red? Royalist Afghanistan had a green and black and Red flag, anyway perhaps this is also another reference to a place he (or they) has visited.

"Do you remember we another person
Green and black and red and so scared
Graffiti on the wall kept us all in tune
Bringing us all back home"

The following lines can also be related to his son. And the aforementioned desire of him (African Night Flight) to expose his son to the greater world, taking him out of urban environments "Action boy seen living under neon". Because people should move on and be active "Action make him sail along", in order to make them "strong". The lines "Life stands still and stares" , reminds me of the Nietsche (correct my spelling if you want heh) quote which says. "When you stare into the abyss, the abyss also stares into you." People are healthier when they lead an active life, excessive thinking leads to morbidity of the soul (stares).


"Action boy seen living under neon
Struggle with a foreign tongue
Red sails make him strong
Action make him sail along
Life stands still and stares"

The following line sums up the theme of escaping from the city life, and adventuring down untravelled paths. Not he sings "we" instead of "i". The definition of Hinterland says it is a region of land linked economically to a nearby city or town, ie it is defined specifically as an alternative to a heavy urban area such as a major city.

"The hinterland, the hinterland
We're gonna sail to the hinterland
And it's far far, far far far, far far far away"

Even the name Lodger, suggests someone who's place of living is transitory, or temporary. Everyone who travels around the world usually finds themselves somebody's Lodger, very frequently.

Knew she was sellin interest drugs
She got males all hung up on her mind feeltors

LaughingGnoome
(kook)
03/24/03 02:48 AM
Re: Lodger - Im just a Travelling Man new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

I have decided that i was not correct in my take of Red Sails.

Let me Try Again. The song Red Sails is Bowie himself looking back over his career. Red Sails means attracting attention, red is the color that demands attention. The choice of sails is obvious since sails were used to signal messages between ships, white = surrender etc. Bowie is describing the various outrageous personalities he has been as Red Sails. Sails are replaceable, like different coats he has worn these alter - ego's. The sails were there to get a reaction. "Red sail Some reaction".

"Do you remember we another person
Green and black and red and so scared
Graffiti on the wall kept us all in tune
Bringing us all back home"

In the above lines Bowie is further hinting at the multiple people he has been, "do you remember we...", he had become predictable for adopting another alter-ego "another person". "Green and Black and Red and so scared" - refers to the three main stages of his career to that date, green = young inexperienced, feeling his way (Space Oddity -> Alladin Sane). Black = depressed, serious, sinister (Diamond Dogs -> Station To Station). And Red = angry, activist, left-political. (Low -> Heroes). "Graffitti on the wall kept us all in tune", meaning he always got the message first "graffitti on the wall", so that his persona switching antics never became tired or pitiful. The "mast" of his Red Sails was "so tall".

The following lines refer specifically to the Heroes period. "Living Under Neon" refers to living in Berlin "struggle with a foreign tongue" - he is drawing a contrast between the antics of the "action boy" he was before and a more studious Eno-esque Bowie experimenting with serious difficult music, which is not associated with "action" - instrumentals for example. The type of music he did in the Berlin period was very different to anything else he ever did, that is what "struggle with a foreign tongue" refers to, it also refers literally to Bowie learning the German language. But he notes how much easier it was to change his musical style when he was doing "action" songs, than serious meditative instrumentals "Action make him sail along". "Red Sails make him strong" - as in made him a successful rich musician with credibility as well.

"Action boy seen living under neon
Struggle with a foreign tongue
Red sails make him strong
Action make him sail along
Life stands still and stares"

Throughout the song he gives hints that his tendency to switch personality gears got him into serious trouble. He sailed into a "Thunder Ocean". And "Red sail action wake up in the wrong town Boy, I really get around" - a reference perhaps to regret at his cocaine induced fascination with facism in the 75 period, the "wrong town" being facism, "wake up" referring to kicking his bad drug habit, and coming down.

"Sailor can't dance like you, ooh, yooou" - is a sly message, in which he is saying that sailor (Ziggy), cant dance like the Red Sails. Meaning he made the correct choice in changing himself post Ziggy, ie in not staying the financially gifted Ziggy permanently. "Sailor cant dance like you" - also could refer to the real David Bowie as the "sailor", then he is saying that David Bowie isnt as interesting "cant dance" as the personas he has been, "like you".

I am not denying the clever choice of "sails" as a metaphor in this song, but in this song he is only travelling through his memories.

Fall into a place, were Black is White and white is Black.

Queen_Bitch_101
(grinning soul)
04/27/03 08:15 PM
Re: Lodger - Im just a Travelling Man new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

I know this a very oooold message, but I only saw it today, and couldn't resist to answer I find your interpretations very interesting LaughingGnoome, there are just some points I disagree with...

En réponse à:

Especially "sick of you, sick of me, lust for the free life crushed and maimed, like a valuable loved one, left unnamed." This seems to echo "Because Your Young" and could be about his relationship with Angie, with the "valuable loved one left unnamed" - his son.


I agree about the parallel with Because You're Young (though that would be rather this one echoing this sentence if we follow the chronology ). But for me the "valuable loved left unnamed" would rather be a person important for him, so important that he prefers not to give this person's name, maybe to protect her from the ones (paparazzis...) who prevent him from having a "free life". I hope I make myself clear, it's been a long time I haven't written in English

En réponse à:

The song itself, also sounds like a love song, to a special person he has not yet met, that he is hoping to meet someone in these places."Somewhere, someone's calling me", "I would love to find you Somewhere in a place like that". That he has made it his mission to find someone special, with whom to share his life, a mission he must not forget. The lines "Can't forget you Can't forget you", seem to suggest he is not succeeding, in forgeting about his problems, by travelling.


I have often seen this "optimistic" interpretation but there's something that disturbs me in it. Bowie himself said that Move On was "blatantly romantic", and I don't doubt that, but I don't think that in this passage he is dreaming of someone he hasn't met yet, but of someone he has lost, which makes this song a lot more sad. I explain myself:
"Maybe it's just a trick of the mind, but
Somewhere there's a morning sky
Bluer than her eyes"
He's trying to convince himself that one day he can watch a "morning sky" without thinking of his lost lover's eyes. The day he can do that, then he will be free from her. The same with the "ocean innocent and wild". But I think I don't learn you much here ;-) But the "you" he would like to find on Cyprus is still this girl: sounds like a little paradise, and it may be even voluntary that he uses "find" and not "meet": that would be a kind of miracle, like finding a treasure when doing a walk.

And the "someone" he's looking for, could indeed be another girl who would help him forgetting his blue eyed lost lover, but personnally I interpret this "someone" as a voice who pushes him to travel and travel, because if he doesn't move, then
"Feeling like a shadow
Drifting like a leaf
I stumble like a blind man
Can't forget you
Can't forget you"
he feels like having lost his repairs, he's haunting by her, so the only way to get over her is moving on, moving on, like this "someone" incitates him to do....

En réponse à:

"Do you remember we another person
Green and black and red and so scared
Graffiti on the wall kept us all in tune
Bringing us all back home"


I've always thought about him, his son and Angie too! till today I believe the "graffiti on the wall" represent the acts of some Neo-Nazis in West Berlin, when Bowie saw that he decided that it was not a sane place for his son and that it was time to leave (definitely a good decision!). and here the "all in tune" and "all back home" meant that the three left Berlin together, which is a problem for our interpretation because Angie was not with Bowie and Joe in Berlin at this time could "another person" be the "valuable loved one left unnamed"? I like your interpretation in your 2nd message, but why is it only "another person" and "other persons, knowing he created several characters?

Just my 0,2 € I think the same than you for all the rest


I know that people think
That I'm a little crazy
Ohh, better sex is fun
I think I like fascination


LaughingGnoome
(electric tomato)
04/29/03 03:34 PM
Re: Lodger - Im just a Travelling Man new [re: Queen_Bitch_101]  

I dont agree with all the points i made in this interpretation either! Sometimes when i do it, i post my initial thoughts first and then refine them as time goes by, as i did with Red Sails.

But nobody was interested enough to reply so i said, hell with it.

I do stand by the second post "Red Sails" though, and Fantastic Voyage. Not to say that its right (100%), but that im sort of pleased with it.




LaughingGnoome
(electric tomato)
05/07/03 08:05 PM
Re: Lodger - Im just a Travelling Man new [re: Queen_Bitch_101]  

Ok for the sake of completion (if nothing else) i will post my current thoughts on African Night Flight.

The song is about flying, over Africa for pleasure. The song is littered with flying-related language. I "slide", "more men fall", "dollar went down", "bent on a windfall" to name but a few.

The song is not about Bowie (definitely not the first part anyway)

"African nightmare one-time Mormon
More men fall in Hullabaloo men
I slide to the nearest bar
Undermine chairman I went too far
Bent on a windfall rent a sony
Wonder how the dollar went down
Gotta get a word to Elizabeth's father
Hey no, he wished me well"

The first line "African Nightmare One Time Mormon" - The mormons (until around 1977) used to have a religious policy which was racist, blacks were considered to be the sons of Cain, and couldnt become priests. Perhaps "One Time Mormon" -indicates possible racist viewpoints, ie he left the mormons after they changed their policy about blacks. "More men fall in hullabaloo" - is an action statement, Hullabaloo is a commotion or racket (noise), here it means nonsense - a macho statement. He is a man who is possibly failing in his normal business life -> "I slide to the nearest bar Undermine chairman I went too far", there is also a possible alcoholic dimension, he went to a pub already possibly drunk "i slide", and falls stupified off his chair -> "under"-"mine"-"chair"-"man". "Bent on a windfall rent a sony Wonder how the dollar went down" - very clever pun here, obviously that if Sony is any example, how the hell is Japan outperforming the US? "Bent on a windfall" - fits in to a guy who has married for money. "Bent on a windfall rent a Sony wonder how the dollar went down" - "Wonder how the dollar went down" means losing money fast, also supports the impression of a playboy character. The line "Gotta get a word to Elizabeths father hey no he wished me well" - this sounds like something a playboy (about to marry into wealth) would say. He needs to keep on good terms with her father (who controls the purse-strings). The name Elizabeth itself sounds aristocratic (as opposed to Liz for example), and very English. Wealthy Europeans have often preffered to Holiday in former-colonial nations (Africa). The language is hedonistic, the imagery is of someone well heeled (Chairman, dollar went down, windfall).

"Seemed like another day
I could fly into the eye of god on high"

"His burning eye will see me through
One of these days, one of these days
Gotta get a word through one of these days"

The "burning eye" could be the sun. "I could fly into the eye of god on high" in conjunction with "Gotta get a word through one of these days" could be a suicide reference -> "one of these days one of these days".

"Getting in mood for a Mombassa night flight
Pushing my luck, gonna fly like a mad thing
Bare strip takeoff skimming over Rhino
Born in slumber less than peace
Struggle with a child whose screaming dreaming
Drowned by the props all steely sunshine
Sick of you, sick of me
Lust for the free life
Quashed and maimed
Like a valuable loved one
Left unnamed"

I dont think this is about Bowie because whoever it is is flying "like a mad thing", and Bowie fears flying.
Mombassa is in Kenya. Again the macho-acting sporty personality of the "playboy" is evident. "Pushing my luck gonna fly like a mad thing", "bare strip take off", he almost seems suicidal. "Struggle with a child whos screaming dreaming, drowned by the props all steely sunshine" -> the "child" he is struggling with is an inner child, he longs for the freedom of the outdoor life, away from the city and business deals, "the props" refers to the artificial nature of cities, places where artificial means are created to satisfy the needs of the humans who dwell there. "Sick of you, sick of me" is the character possibly referring to his wife. "Lust for the free life" - i consider this line in several ways, firstly it means what it sounds like, lust for the great outdoors. But it also could mean suicide (ie to free life, to release life), especially when taken in conjunction with "quashed and maimed". Another explanation is that it means the easy life, the "free life" were he doesnt have to work (as living in a city implies you are there for work). "Quashed and Maimed Like a valuable loved one left unnamed" - a possibility for "a loved one" is that it refers to a child of his who was killed -> "struggle with a child whos screaming dreaming drowned by the props..."

Bowie is also possibly drawing comparisons between himself and this character throughout this whole verse. The desire to get away from the bad relationship with the wife, "sick of you, sick of me". The angush over the downtrodden son "struggle with a child...". The last two lines are "quashed and maimed, like a valuable loved one left unnamed" - In the context of Bowie drawing comparisons "like" with himself, the "loved one left unnamed" would be himself.

The extreme flight imagery in the song is especially interesting when we consider Bowie's fear of flying.

In reply to:

I like your interpretation in your 2nd message, but why is it only "another person" and "other persons, knowing he created several characters?


Thanks for the nice words. Now about that line - "Do you remember we another person". Imagine it broken into two parts (Taken as one continuous line it makes poor sense).

"Do you remember we"

Referring to the multiple personae. (Which are in the past).

and

"Another person" - There is a deliberately resigned note to this, oh yeah hes somebody else again. Bowie said after the TWD he was afraid he was becoming predictable, what was becoming predictable was his constant morphing through different characters and personae.

So what did he do next? He made the most personally inspired and sincere album of his career, Low, the opposite of adopting a persona.

In reply to:

I've always thought about him, his son and Angie too! till today I believe the "graffiti on the wall" represent the acts of some Neo-Nazis in West Berlin


I've just started reading my first Bowie biography Loving The Alien by Christopher Sandford this week. And in it an incident is related where Bowie while walking through Berlin saw his name scrawled on the wall with the last two letters twisted into a swastika, so your interpretation of the Graffiti is certainly possible.

As to my own interpretation of the "green and black and red and so scared" I would like to edit my original message and state that these represent personae and not periods of his career. Green = Ziggy, Black = TWD and Red = The apologetic Heroes left-wing person he was.

btw, your thoughts and interpretations are very interesting and you have changed my mind a number of times since you started a few weeks ago, keep on posting please.



Queen_Bitch_101
(grinning soul)
05/09/03 08:12 PM
Re: Lodger - Im just a Travelling Man new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

En réponse à:

The first line "African Nightmare One Time Mormon" - The mormons (until around 1977) used to have a religious policy which was racist, blacks were considered to be the sons of Cain, and couldnt become priests. Perhaps "One Time Mormon" -indicates possible racist viewpoints, ie he left the mormons after they changed their policy about blacks. "More men fall in hullabaloo" - is an action statement, Hullabaloo is a commotion or racket (noise), here it means nonsense - a macho statement. He is a man who is possibly failing in his normal business life -> "I slide to the nearest bar Undermine chairman I went too far", there is also a possible alcoholic dimension, he went to a pub already possibly drunk "i slide", and falls stupified off his chair -> "under"-"mine"-"chair"-"man". "Bent on a windfall rent a sony Wonder how the dollar went down" - very clever pun here, obviously that if Sony is any example, how the hell is Japan outperforming the US? "Bent on a windfall" - fits in to a guy who has married for money. "Bent on a windfall rent a Sony wonder how the dollar went down" - "Wonder how the dollar went down" means losing money fast, also supports the impression of a playboy character. The line "Gotta get a word to Elizabeths father hey no he wished me well" - this sounds like something a playboy (about to marry into wealth) would say. He needs to keep on good terms with her father (who controls the purse-strings). The name Elizabeth itself sounds aristocratic (as opposed to Liz for example), and very English. Wealthy Europeans have often preffered to Holiday in former-colonial nations (Africa). The language is hedonistic, the imagery is of someone well heeled (Chairman, dollar went down, windfall).


wow! I had never read this verse this way, actually I never tried to understand because I don't like this song very much and I like very much interpretation. The idea rich man marrying a rich girl could be even inspired by his film "Just a gigolo"

En réponse à:

Seemed like another day
I could fly into the eye of god on high"


a reference to Word On A Wing, symbolizing Bowie's reunion with God? Good point for the suicide! or it could be Satan's eye, "burning" like the flames of his kingdom Hell. "will see me through", Satan with his eye will find Bowie's weakness who, disappointed in God, thinks more and more about "getting a word" with Satan instead. But well, the idea of suicide seems the best to me too...

En réponse à:

I dont think this is about Bowie because whoever it is is flying "like a mad thing", and Bowie fears flying.


Hmmm since Iggy Pop's tour in '77 he doesn't really fear it anymore, and in '78 tour it was not a big deal to fly from city to city, whereas before he took the train. He stills avoids to take the plane when he can, but that doesn't prevent him from travelling.

En réponse à:

"Struggle with a child whos screaming dreaming, drowned by the props all steely sunshine" -> the "child" he is struggling with is an inner child, he longs for the freedom of the outdoor life, away from the city and business deals, "the props" refers to the artificial nature of cities, places where artificial means are created to satisfy the needs of the humans who dwell there.


An inner child, of course... the "child" would be his "child's soul" as we all have hopefully, and here his child's soul is scared by what it sees of the adult's world: violence, steel etc... and so is "screaming dreaming". It could also be dreaming about the "scary monsters" which will appear one year later in another song. His child's soul is not dead yet but it is "drowned" by those scary visions, which come partly from his own previous actions: "sick of me", "you" being people in general, and that explains the suicidal feeling of the song: he knows he is responsible for his child's soul's suffering (and so his suffering) and wants to get rid of his feeling of guilt: "lust for the free life".

Thanks for your last explanation, you've convinced me

En réponse à:

btw, your thoughts and interpretations are very interesting and you have changed my mind a number of times since you started a few weeks ago, keep on posting please.


I could sincerely say the same thing about you I'm happy my messages interest at least one person, especially someone I can discuss with

The advantage of being clever is that you can play the fool, while the contrary is impossible (Woody Allen)


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