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   >> Interpretation
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LaughingGnoome
(kook)
04/06/03 07:24 PM
Strangers When We Meet - Aids  

Strangers when we meet, is told by a narrator who's lover is suffering from Aids.

The following line indicates the Aids affliction (emaciation, weakness), at first i thought this meant growing old, but the passion and anger in the lyrics goes against this.

"All our friends
Now seem so thin and frail"

Now the next line.

"Slinky secrets"

Slinky suggests cadaverous (super - thin), the aids sufferers are "secrets" - because of the negative stigma of the disease, with slinky, it suggests that they are dirty secrets.

"Hotter than the sun" - The disease itself allows simple infections to rage within the body of the sufferer, infections usually produce fevers "Hotter Than the sun".

The following lines indicate mortality, someone is going to die - Nothing - "No Peachy Prayers" - can save them. Rechauffe is a french word for something which is rehashed, warmed up (usually food). "No Trendy Rechauffe" - could then mean that their previous relationship (before the disease) cannot be revived. It can also mean death, since the person cannot be re-invigorated (healed - warmed up), cannot be served up as new, as a rechauffe can. Describing the aids sufferrer as food, is Bowies way of drawing attention to the dehumanisation of such people both by society and the disease itself - vegetable.

"Im with you so i cant go on" - means he is deteriorating (spiritually and partially physically) for grief over his friend, he is dying inside.

"No peachy prayers
No trendy rechauffé
I'm with you
So I can't go on"

These following lines back up the suggestion that they are lovers.

"All my violence
Raining tears upon the sheet"

The line "Im bewildered/resentful For were Strangers when we meet"

Refers to the two lovers, now the sufferer has been decimated (not dead yet) by Aids, and is suffering from dementia (see below). He is at first bewildered at this, becomes "resentful" that the disease which is savaging his lovers body, is now claiming his mind.

In the lines

"Blank Screen TV
Preening ourselves in the snow"

The "snow" suggests isolation, "preening ourselves" suggests an attempt at maintaining dignity despite their ostracisation. "Blank Screen TV" - suggests mental deterioration. It could also suggest a media blackout as regards the Aids epidemic.

The following lines suggest mental deterioration, especially "forget my name", "forget my name" also suggests a desire on his part to distance himself from his friend. I should also point out that one third of adults with aids suffer from a condition called Aids-Dementia which involves memory loss. (I did a little bit of research)

"Forget my name
But I'm over you"

The following lines, emphasise the epidemic - like proportions of the disease. "Its a dying world". The fact that the sunrise is "blended" means it offers mixed blessings. With each new sunrise the friend is closer to death.

"Blended sunrise
And it's a dying world"

"Humming Rheingold
We scavenge up our clothes."

"Rheingold" is an opera by Richard Wagner.

The following lines suggest that as death "cold tap fingers" gets very close, the friend relays his tale, recounting his "memories". God this song is sooo sad, it has brought me to tears looking at the words and listening to the song.

"Cold tired fingers
Tapping out your memories"

The following lines further suggest mental deterioration, especially "dazzled by the new". "Halfway sadness" - suggests the sadness is incomplete, because the friends mind is half gone. It also suggests incomplete grief on the part of the narrator, who perhaps must be strong for his friend.

"Halfway sadness
Dazzled by the new"

The following line speaks most clearly of aids affecting the two friends (lovers). The narrator recounts how he too once was afraid to be intimate with his friend, for fear of getting the disease. However now the new fear of losing his friend overwhelmes that barrier that had been between them.

"Your embrace
Was all that I feared"

In the following lines, the "whirling room" could suggest being under the influence of medication. "Trade by vendu", is a follow on from "your embrace was all i feared", it is a sexual or physical reference, vendu is french for a purchase or sale (as from a shop), suggesting how cold and clinical their physical encounters had to be.

"That whirling room
We trade by vendu"

The following lines show that the sufferer is getting weaker physically and is deteriorating, his friend (lover?) is deteriorating mentally and spiritually.

"Steely resolve
Is falling from me"

The following lines also suggest aids, "my poor soul" is his friend. "All bruised passivity" - is the narrator saying his friend did not deserving this fate, he never intentionally harmed anyone - "passivity", but they were treated like they deserved their fate by certain sections of society.

"My poor soul
All bruised passivity"

The following lines describe how the sufferers pain and regrets inflict terrible spiritual wounds upon the narrator.

"All your regrets
Ride rough-shod over me"

The final lines represent the furthest decline and eventual death of the friend. At first he is "glad" "thankful" "clover" that his friends mind has finally gone (and they are "strangers when we meet"), as now his friend cannot understand how his disease is tearing the narrator apart. Finally he is grateful that his friend has died "heel head over", he is pleased that his friends suffering has finally ended. These words "glad", "thankful", "clover" couldnt be more bitter.

"I'm so glad
That we're strangers when we meet
I'm so thankful
That we're strangers when we meet
I'm in clover
For we're strangers when we meet
Heel head over
But we're strangers when we meet"

"Strangers when we meet" - repeated at the end is him at his friends bedside, holding his hand as he slips away, the voice saying "strangers when we meet" recedes into silence.

The Video.

The Video made me think Bowie wrote this song for Freddy Mercury, the video is set upon a stage, there was no more theatrical personality than Freddy Mercury. Bowie once described Mercury as being "Theatrical" i recall. The other character in the video is a typical drama queen, who falls to the ground as though stricken.

This song is devastating, easily his most emotive, saddest, and one of his most beautiful.



strangeDivine
(cracked actor)
04/06/03 07:43 PM
Re: Strangers When We Meet - Aids new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

That is a very interesting interpretation LaughingGnoome. The AIDS connection honestly never occured to me.

But I have a different interpretation of the "No peachy prayers
No trendy rechauffé" lyric. To me no trendy rechauffé means this is just the cold hard truth - death. We're not dressing it up with some archaic religious mumbo jumbo or some trendy New Age feel-good feelings. It reminds me of the Lou Reed lyric from the song "Sword of Damocles" from Magic and Loss, "Maybe there's something over there. Some other world that we don't know about. I know you hate that mystic shit."


In the morning of my winter
When my eyes are still asleep


T.J. Newton
(stardust savant)
04/06/03 07:51 PM
Re: Strangers When We Meet - Aids new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

Your interpretation is really interesting, but I would be very surprised if it was close to the truth.

It's too late - to be grateful
It's too late - to be late again
It's too late - to be hateful
The european cannon is here


LaughingGnoome
(kook)
04/06/03 07:56 PM
Re: Strangers When We Meet - Aids new [re: strangeDivine]  

Im pleased you liked the interpretation Strangedivine, this song has been going around in my head for months (though i only tried to attempt to interpret today), and i was intrigued by what the words meant, they are so sad and beautiful. At first i thought it might be about Alzheimers disease, but the words are too bitter, and Alzheimers patients dont have physical symptoms.

In reply to:

I know you hate that mystic shit.


Not really, the concept of a deeper meaning, of a resolution of life, is something i do believe in. Besides how can we interpret Bowie's works and not run into this "mystic shit"? Its all over the place!

In reply to:

To me no trendy rechauffé means this is just the cold hard truth - death. We're not dressing it up with some archaic religious mumbo jumbo or some trendy New Age feel-good feelings.



Interesting, the word "peachy prayers" could suggest a segregation in prayers, "Peachy prayers" would be for "innocent" victims - not aids patients who "brought it on themselves" -sic.

In reply to:

but I would be very surprised if it was close to the truth.



Why?


AdamModerator
(crash course raver)
04/06/03 08:22 PM
A Craig Song new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

Very good interpretation. Bowie has had a few friends die from AIDS, including a friend called Craig.

Little known to us, Craig was in a coma when Bowie took the stage at the Freddie Mercury Tribute in 1992. Overcome with emotion, Bowie dropped to his knees and offered the Lord's Prayer at the spur of the moment. Craig died a few days later.


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T.J. Newton
(stardust savant)
04/06/03 08:27 PM
Re: Strangers When We Meet - Aids new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

In reply to:

Why?


Maybe because I've always been closer to my own interpretation, similar to the one provided by strangeDivine. Nevertheless, post made by Adam has changed my thoughts a little I didn't know Bowie had some friends diagnosed with AIDS.
Adam, I adore your knowledge How do you know about that?

It's too late - to be grateful
It's too late - to be late again
It's too late - to be hateful
The european cannon is here


strangeDivine
(cracked actor)
04/06/03 09:43 PM
Re: Strangers When We Meet - Aids new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

In reply to:

Not really, the concept of a deeper meaning, of a resolution of life, is something i do believe in. Besides how can we interpret Bowie's works and not run into this "mystic shit"? Its all over the place!


Whoops. That was a Lou Reed lyric that I was comparing it to. Those aren't my words. If your interpretation is accurate, both songs deal with the death of a loved one. And I think both those lyrics the artist is trying to make sense and find a purpose for it. And Bowie is going through the feeling that all the suffering is pointless and he feels very cynical and bitter about it. Here's the song it came from.

Sword Of Damocles - Externally

I see The Sword of Damocles is right above your head
They're trying a new treatment to get you out of bed
But radiation kills both bad and good
it can not differentiate
So to cure you they must kill you
The Sword of Damocles hangs above your head
Now I have seen lots of people die
from car crashes or drugs
Last night on 33rd st. I saw a kid get hit by a bus
But this drawn out torture over which part of you lives
is very hard to take
To cure you they must kill you
The Sword of Damocles above your head
That mix of morphine and dexedrine
we use it on the street
It kills the pain and keeps you up
your very soul to keep
But this guessing game has its own rules
the good don't always win
and might makes right
The Sword of Damocles
is hanging above your head
It seems everything's done that must be done
from over here though things don't seem fair
But there are things that we can't know
maybe there's something over there
Some other world that we don't know about
I know you hate that mystic shit
It's just another way of seeing
The Sword of Damocles above your head

In the morning of my winter
When my eyes are still asleep


Spunkrat
(electric tomato)
04/06/03 10:10 PM
I still think it's about Angie new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

I still think it's about Angie. It's a withering retort to her "backstage passes".
To do a little of my own interpretation...

"All our friends
Now seem so thin and frail"
presumably relates to all the friends that he and Angie had kept in the early seventies, who have grown old and pedestrian

"Slinky secrets
Hotter than the sun"
&
"Cold tired fingers
Tapping out your memories
Halfway sadness
Dazzled by the new"
These clearly relate to Angie's 'revelations' in backstage passes.

No peachy prayers
No trendy rechauffé
I'm with you
So I can't go on"
This relates to David's relationship with Angie - cold and dead, the rechauffe referring to their relationship as it had become - the cold leftovers of a once passionate love. He knows that while he is still with Angie, he "can't go on" i.e; he can't grow.

" All my violence
Raining tears upon the sheet
I'm bewildered/resentful
For we're strangers when we meet"

"Things have fallen apart with Angie, but it still hurts, as it always does to meet someone with whom you were once so intimate, and find them an alien. (even if Bowie does love aliens;) )

I won't go through the rest of the lyrics. While they relate to Angie(IMHO) they refer to private arguments and occurences and hence would be difficult to literally interpret. The chorus however pretty clearly delineates his current feelings about Angie. He's moved on, and couldn't care less that he no longer has a relationship with his former wife. And good luck to him, I say.




LaughingGnoome
(kook)
04/07/03 03:53 PM
The Leper new [re: Spunkrat]  

In reply to:

Bowie dropped to his knees and offered the Lord's Prayer at the spur of the moment. Craig died a few days later.


I honestly didnt know that, thanks Adam. You are truly a reservoir of Bowie-trivia.

An interesting Interpretation Spunkrat, i cannot see any major reason why it could not be as you say.

To me, i am still uncertain which (if any) is correct, I do know that it is interesting you thing it is about Angie, and I say it is about an AIDS patient. That might say enough about Bowie's possible views about his Ex-Wife if nothing else.

Looking at the video again, consider the figure, yes it appears to be a female, but is actually a male in drag, consider the huge target sign at the back of the set, target = vulnerability. Consider the fact that the figure is all in bandages, symbolising a leper, Leprosy is unheard of in the west now, so a symbolic leper, meaning someone who is scorned and ostracised. Now consider the lines "tapping out your memories." - in the video she is doing this on a Piano, Piano was Mercury's main musical instrument. Then the Piano is destroyed.

Some lyrics suggest death and degeneration.

"All our friends, now seem so thin and frail"
"Blended Sunrise and its a dying world."
"Heel head over"
"No peachy prayers
No trendy Rechauffe"
"Steely resolve
Is falling from me"


Some lyrics suggest a loss of dignity.

" preening ourselves in the snow"
"Humming Rheingold
We scavenge up our clothes"
"My poor soul
All bruised passivity"

Some lyrics express deep sadness.

"Cold tired fingers
Tapping out your memories
Halfway sadness
Dazzled by the new"
"All your regrets
Ride rough-shod over me"

In defence of your interpretation.

"Slinky Secrets
Hotter than the sun"

- think "son" here instead of "sun", and the message would say that you cared more about your kiss and tell book than our son, who was damaged by your revelations.

However the tale of a famous Aids patient keeping it to himself until the last moment, such a secret would be "Hotter than the sun". "Hotter than the sun also suggests rage".

"Strangers when we meet" - Well i suggested they were strangers because one of them is being ravaged by a fatal disease, which changes them physically and mentally.

But in "Because your young" (about Angie and Duncan i think) - he says "You'll meet a stranger some night" to Duncan, meaning that putting your trust in people who arent familly, can be dangerous.

"im over you" - would then refer to Bowie saying he is Angies boss, he is over her. Because she depends upon him to stay in business.

Finally "raining tears upon the sheet" does not refer to a bed sheet, but to a musical sheet. Bowie is crying as he is typing the words.



bowiefanpeter
(acolyte)
04/08/03 00:25 AM
Re: The Leper new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

Now the question is how the song fits into outside compared to how it fits onto BoS.

If we go with Aids interpretatino of the song it could be a fitting ending for a "rock opera" about being awash in one's own personal freedoms.

BFP



LaughingGnoome
(kook)
04/08/03 03:43 PM
Mismatched Socks new [re: Spunkrat]  

I must add a major factor that would indicate it is at least partially about Angie, in the video the females dress(?) is white but she has a red and black sock which doesnt match the other. This sock mismatch is highlighted in the video.

Now i am 100% certain that one of the "reasons" (being tongue in cheek) Bowie gave to the media for splitting up with her was her mismatched socks.

"All bruised passivity" would then be Bowie accusing her of portraying herself as an innocent victim.

"Im with you, so i cant go on" would then mean that he cant speak openly in front of her, because she wouldnt respect his confidence.

"Blended sunrise" - would refer to him saying to her that the relationship they had was one of mixed blessings - because of the son she gave him - "blended sonrise".

Bowiefanpeter, well the song itself was written before Outside (For Buddha), so im not sure if it can be fitted into the outside story at all.



LaughingGnoome
(kook)
04/08/03 09:09 PM
Re: Mismatched Socks new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

As regards my stating i am certain Bowie claimed to be divorcing her because of her mis-matched socks.

In reply to:

Upon the completion of "Ooh, Pretty Colors", Bowie moved out of South London, and decided to divorce Angie. Bowie claimed, "I just can't live with her and her mismatched socks. Sometimes, it seems like she wears mismatched socks everywhere, and I don't think Glowie should be exposed to that."


This quote comes from Here

Just in case you thought i made that up or something.



revidescent
(wild eyed peoploid)
04/09/03 01:22 AM
Re: Mismatched Socks new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

That webpage is hilarious. Hahahahahaha!

Andrée-Anne
----------
It's great, but it's just rock 'n' roll with lipstick on.

LaughingGnoome
(kook)
04/09/03 06:38 PM
Re: Mismatched Socks new [re: revidescent]  

That is a jokey site, if everything on that site is BS, it is a weird coincidence (The mismatched socks - highlighted in video and the comment i posted from the site).

Funny stuff though :)



Queen_Bitch_101
(grinning soul)
05/09/03 02:09 PM
Re: Mismatched Socks new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

Hope I can make this thread living again... for the moment I'd only like to ask about the video: does someone know what are the yellow flowers in the girl's bunch? You know, there are tulips, a lily, a red rose (or is it a renoncule? I'm not sure because of the quality ) and those yellow flowers I can't identify. Flowers have a language and I'm sure these weren't choosen innocently...

P.s for Laughing Gnoome: why isn't it a boy who is disguised, if it's a drag? I'd like you to lighten me on that

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

LaughingGnoome
(electric tomato)
05/09/03 06:39 PM
Re: Mismatched Socks new [re: Queen_Bitch_101]  

I guess your right, it is a gal, hard to tell really, what with all the bandages .

Lilies are symbols of Death arent they?








Queen_Bitch_101
(grinning soul)
05/09/03 07:21 PM
Re: Mismatched Socks new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

I have no doubt it's a girl... about flowers, I always saw that:

red rose = passion
white lily = purity, majesty, often used to mean: "my love is pure"
tulip = love declaration
but renoncule (hope it's the good English word, I haven't found it in the dictionnary ) = mockery or nastiness

The red rose, the lily and the tulip are often put together, meaning: "I declare (tulip) my love (passion) for you (red rose), but is pure (lily). In the video Bowie offers this bunch to the girl and it seems that it's one of the main piece... But if the rose is in fact a renoncule it obviously changes its meaning... as for the yellow flower, I think I've finally just found it as I'm writing: acacia!! that means "platonic love" and would perfectly fit with the rest I attach a picture of acacia flowers, what do you think, does it look like the flowers of the video indeed?

and for all the bandages, i'm really not sure, especially since I've read your interpretation about AIDS! but that could be a girl having AIDS as well? The song seems deeply personnal to Bowie and I never heard him and Freddy were so next friends... I'll prepare my own interpretation and you'll tell me what you think, I hope

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

Edited by Queen_Bitch_101 on 05/09/03 07:22 PM (server time).



Queen_Bitch_101
(grinning soul)
05/09/03 07:24 PM
Attachment
Re: Mismatched Socks new [re: Queen_Bitch_101]  

stupid me, I forgot the pic

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

Queen_Bitch_101
(grinning soul)
05/09/03 07:26 PM
Attachment
Re: Mismatched Socks new [re: Queen_Bitch_101]  

or this one is better (sorry it's late... oops)

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

Queen_Bitch_101
(grinning soul)
05/09/03 11:25 PM
Re: Mismatched Socks new [re: Queen_Bitch_101]  

I can't resist doing it now...

I won't bother to tell much about the song itself, you guys have already made a very good job!

The beginning:
We see Bowie looking very serious next to a piano in a room which seems to be a theater one as there is a scene. Then we can see some small plastic faces in a box on the scene, and Bowie is singing playing with pull-over, treating it as if it was a treasure.

I take this video as Bowie telling us a story, real or fake. When the song really stars, he shows the scene with his arms like to tell us "look, someone will come". And indeed, a girl dressed almost like a tramp (hot tramp?! ), and with mistmatched socks (lol) suddendly appears from a trap. Well I take this apparition this way: the surprising arrival seems to show that in reality, this girl has come in Bowie's life (or whoever he's playing in this vid) like coming from nowhere, when he didn't expect her, and very suddendly. I still can't explain the bandages, but the strange clothes could symbolize a girl not at ease with her own appearence, and maybe even with people who look at her like a strange thing, someone who is different from them. She is blonde, this is proved by the fact that she wears a blonde wig, if it wasn't important to show that, the actress wouldn't have needed to wear a wig. Then she makes some very lame and graceless dance steps and plays the star on stage but the curtain falls on her: 1st assumption is that she's one of these numerous persons who wanted to be a star. But more deeply, it's certainly a person who tried to get attention and caring for other people but as she was different from them, mentally and maybe physically too, they rejected her.

So the girl is now crying because nobody wants her. Then suddenly Zorro is coming, aka Bowie who opposed to the others wants to know her. And in fact he's in love with her: here comes the "flowers language". He offers her a bunch of flower composed of:
- a red rose
- 2 white lylies
- 2 tulips
- and I think it's a branch of acacia, but if someone who knows flowers could confirm or invalidate that'd be great!! as I sad earlier:
- a red rose = love/passion
- lily = purity
- tulip = love declaration
- acacia = platonic love
So what Bowie is saying to this girl, it's that he loves her, but his love is pure and he accepts to keep it platonic... at least at the moment She seems very surprised but then is delighted and holds the bunch with happyness: she's happy to have found a friend.

He then dances a slow number with her, holding firmly the bunch of flowers in his arms, but the girl might be a little drunk and he's afraid to do something wrong, so he gently lies her on her bed, while she's still have the bunch of flowers in her hand. It's interesting to notice that the girl wears a kind of bracelet at the left arm. This automatically reminds me Bowie and Angie who wore silver bracelets instead of the usual wedding ring. So it could mean that the girl is married when Bowie meets her. There's a rose on the bracelet, but this time the rose is not red, but pink. A pink rose symbolizes fear and love promess, the essence of marriage

And so the fact that this girl is married explains easily the importance of a platonic relationship between Bowie and her. But life is complicated: he takes her right hand (the one that's free ) and she's as troubled as him. He learns her to dance: in reality to have fun, and we can observe she seems to become more and more prettier. Also to notice: a very short moment when Bowie is rubbing his hands, we don't see his face but this move seems to say: "ah ah it's working well, soon she'll be mine!"

But she stills insists on keeping this relationship as a pure friendship, as she shows in holding the bunch again in her arms. But it becomes more and more difficult for him to hold on: he starts caressing himself softly closing his eyes, as if he imagined he felt in fact her arms.

Then suddendly, the girl falls in a trap. Something wrong has happened in her life. She's back, but sad and lonely on her bed, and the empty place of the bed clearly shows that someone who used to sleep here doesn't anymore: maybe her marriage wich has fallen into pieces?

Bowie is with her, but instead of the actress it is a rag doll, wich shows two things: she has blue-green-grey eyes, difficult to say because the video is rather sepia, and most of all, the use of the doll symbolizes the moral state of the girl, how she's feeling down, her will of living has gone. And then again Bowie's here to help her: he pushes her to hold her head up.

And that's what she eventually does: she stands up and dances, the dance representing this time the fight against dejection. And finally this breaking is more a chance than a misfortune: now and thanks to Bowie's help and love she becomes gracious and beautiful, the light that falls on her certainly symbolising a new birth for her ("You're born once again for me"...). And Bowie well, he's a gentleman and doesn't want to take advantage of the situation, and simply lies down beside her on the bed

The explanation for the mess that's happening in the room is that now, the balance in Bowie and the girl's life is crumbling to dust: soon they'll both admit their love and obviously it will disrupt everything in their personal life. I can't explain why the girl is crawling till the piano, but the notes she's playing, Bowie of today hears them again and it seems to do a painful effect on him, as if he had hoped not hear this music again because it brought painful memories. He sees the 1st scene again: the girl coming in his life suddendly, trying to get attention etc... The heads he is arranging on stage can be the ones of their friends who are now "thin and frail", because of the past: he's arranging them, then he destroys all, then arrange them again: he wants to forget the past but it's difficult, he can't help but always thinking about it and wanting to come back to this time.

Then come back to the past: which had to happen finally happens. Now that the girl is free, Bowie removes the "platonic love bunch" from her hand, she tries a bit to resist but can't deny his feelings and we see he's going to kiss her. Then the girl's hand in the air, her moves are very subtle and sweet symbols of the sexual act.

Now the present: Bowie is on his bed and thinking about this very day, while men are destroying all that could let a mark of the past, especially the piano which is definitely an important piece in the video: maybe the girl played piano?

Erasing the past: Bowie is standing on the bed while the bed is sat on it, she tryes to stay in Bowie's mind but men are always putting her down, it's actually Bowie trying to erase her of his memory of course, getting rid of this obssession. And it seems to work: the girl is crawling on the floor and can't stand up.

But she tries, at least, to convince him to be her friend again, by presenting him the "friendship bunch". His difficult breath shows how in trouble he is, but he still wants to resist to the tentation: he knows to well that a real friendship between them is impossible, so he prefers running away from her. But then she seems almost dead, just has the force to hold her hand out to him, they are both suffering: her because he doesn't want her friendship and him because the torture is still here, symbolized by the red pull-over (a present from her?).

Eventually he can't resist anymore and comes back to the girl, lies down next to her on the bed.

THE END

Can't believe I've written so much I hope it will please somebody!

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

Edited by Queen_Bitch_101 on 05/10/03 10:25 AM (server time).



dukewhite
(crash course raver)
05/10/03 04:22 AM
Re: Mismatched Socks new [re: Queen_Bitch_101]  

I refuse to read too much into the significance of the flowers in the video. It's a bouquet, plain and simple. Those flowers look good together. I doubt there was as much time planning what flowers to include as you have obviously spent disecting their meaning.

I do, however agree with the overall assumption that the song itself is about AIDS. I don't buy the Angie connection, seeing as it was written so long after they seperated.

Wanna come inside and meet the missus?

revidescent
(kook)
05/10/03 06:21 AM
Re: Mismatched Socks new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

In reply to:

Lilies are symbols of Death arent they?


That's what I thought too...

Andrée-Anne

Les heures... Toutes blessent, la dernière tue.

Queen_Bitch_101
(grinning soul)
05/10/03 09:01 AM
Re: Mismatched Socks new [re: dukewhite]  

En réponse à:

It's a bouquet, plain and simple. Those flowers look good together. I doubt there was as much time planning what flowers to include


The video is full of symbols and the bouquet would mean nothing? the language of flowers is one of the oldest in the world and everyone who knows it only a bit knows what I said, especially about the rose, the tulips and the lys; and I can't believe their presence and the one of acacia is a pure coincidence, "to make pretty"... have you often seen bouquets with acacia really? Why would this bouquet take a so big importance in the video if it was just a plain bouquet? Especially in this video full of meanings to discover, and especially in a Bowie video, no I really can't believe the "it was a pretty bouquet" theory. Or then the whole video would mean absolutely nothing, you believe that too?

AND that doesn't mean Laughing Gnoome's theory is wrong, even though I don't believe it myself, the girl lying in the bed and almost not moving at the end of the vid, and Bowie coming back to her could prove indeed that she's going to die.

as about lys = death, I didn't find it in any site I've been to, all agree to say that a white lys = purity or majesty. But a lys of another colour might represent death though. Chrysanthemum is the flower of death, in Europe anyways.

En réponse à:

Now that the girl is free, Bowie removes the "platonic love bunch" from her hand


I want to add something to that, maybe dukewhite you'll then find that my interpretation is not so stupid after all Why does he take the bouquet away if it's a plain pretty bouquet? ok, maybe because it prevents him from kissing the girl . But rather because this bouquet symbolizes platonic love-forced friendship the two shared till this very moment, taking it away means: "we have enough waited, no forced friendship anymore".

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

Edited by Queen_Bitch_101 on 05/10/03 10:42 AM (server time).



zigbot
(grinning soul)
07/07/03 09:58 PM
thread revival-strangers when we meet and grief new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

Sorry in advance to those who dislike revivals of old threads. But I've been listening a lot to Strangers When We Meet lately, and also dealing at the same time with a good friend's progressive, fatal illness. This also got me thinking of my father's passing many years ago.

I love LaughingGnoome's interpretation, but have a bit more to add. I might be off here, or on to something--I don't know which. This is long, but I hope someone reads it and lets me know their thoughs.

I agree with Laughing that the song is about someone dying of AIDS--but I'm not so sure it's necessarily a lover. I think it is someone with whom the narrator of the song engaged in similar at-risk behaviors. But the risky behavior in question is not sexual. Rather, it is IV drug use--which is a very effective way of getting HIV.

I see this as a song from one friend to another--not one lover to another. The narrator did the same "bad" or "risky" stuff (IV drugs) that the dying person did, but somehow escaped unscathed (recall the song "A Prayer For the Dying" by Seal, also about how one friend gets away with "playing with fire without getting burned" while the other lies dying). As the narrator's friend lies dying, the narrator is at first angry ("I'm resentful"), then he enters what I will call an "anticipatory grieving" process that is a distancing maneuver he uses to cope with the impending death (see below for more of an explanation), but eventually the narrator feels so overwhelmed with sorrow and guilt (survivor's guilt) that he openly breaks down at the thought of his friend's impending death. As he falls apart, he stops being angry and "resentful" that he seems a "stranger" to his friend whose body and mind are rapidly deteriorating. Rather, at this point, he is "glad," "thankful"--and even feeling a bit lucky ("I'm in clover" suggests a luckiness, as in four-leaf clover, and the line in the fabulous Etta James song "At Last," where she croons "My heart was wrapped up on clover, the night I looked at you") that his friend does not have all his wits about him to fully perceive the extent of the narrator's weakness/breakdown.

Here we go line by line:

"All our friends
Now seem so thin and frail
Slinky secrets
Hotter than the sun"

I think the "friends" include a circle that is comprised of the narrator, the dying person, and others who partook of the same risky behavior--which I believe is IV drug use. These "friends"--or at least those among them who are ailing and afflicted with AIDS--are thin and frail. Their "slinky secrets" are "hotter than the sun"--I equate "slinky" with "sexy" because that is how I use the term. Those in the class of "friends" who are ill and dying have all sorts of steamy ("hotter than the sun") secrets about how they ended up with AIDS. But drugs can be just as alluring and sexy (or perhaps more so) than sex itself. So "slinky" and "hot" secrets need not necessarily mean sexual secrets. It could just be drug use.

"No peachy prayers
No trendy rechauffé
I'm with you
So I can't go on"

Here, the narrator acknowledges he can't make things right--or "peachy" again--simply by praying for his dying friend. The friend is too far gone. There is no way to dress up--or warm up--the situation or make it appear as anything other than it is. It is hopeless. In saying "I'm with you, so I can't go on," the narrator is saying that he is (too) preoccupied with his friend's impending passing. He "can't go on" with his own life while his friend is still helplessly, hopelessly clinging on to life--long past the point where life is worth it. The narrator seems almost angry that his friend is dying for seems like an eternity. The friend is suffering for too long before death releases him, and the narrator's pain is also prolonged as a result. He is saddened and angry about all of this. As the following lines suggest:

(Chorus)"All my violence
Raining tears upon the sheet
I'm bewildered
For we're strangers when we meet"

The narrator is angy, crying, bewildered at why his friend has to suffer so. I particularly like the double entendre here as to the "sheet" the tears are falling onto. As a previous poster suggested (it may have been Laughing, but I don't recall), "sheet" may be the sheets of music on which the narrator is writing this song about his friend's death. But it also conjures up hospital bed-side imagery as well. Beautiful.

The hospital imagery is also in the next few lines:

"Blank screen TV
Preening ourselves in the snow"

I was in a hospital room earlier today, and was struck by the image of those large, black TVs hanging from the ceiling in front of each patient's bed. But the patients who are too far gone and close to dying would not have their TVs on. The screens would be blank. Ominous. Empty. Cold. Which I think connects with the "preening ourselves in the snow" line. Here the narrator speeks both of himself and of his friend "preening" in this cold environment. The friend is probably "preened" or tended to by hospital staff, while the narrator may be "preening" himself to hide his emotions, tears, etc. The hospital staff tried to preen the patient so his impending death isn't as horrific looking as it really is, as the narrator preens to hide his reaction to all this. There is this odd dance of pretending things are still o.k. Still normal. Denial.

Then the narrator goes into what I call "anticipatory grieving"--a coping mechanism I used during my father's death years ago. I could tell he would soon die (even though my other family members held on to hopes of recovery that I understood would be futile), so I started grieving his death BEFORE it came. I jumped the gun, so to speak. Consequently, as he deteriorated physically and mentally before my eyes, I grieved his death as though it had already occurred, so that when it finally DID occur I could be actually GLAD that his suffering was over. The following lines suggest to me the narrator is grieving his friend's impending death:

"Forget my name
But I'm over you."

He tries to convince himself it's o.k. that his dying friend no longer recognizes him or recalls his name. "I'm over you," he says to the dying friend, jumping the gun and grieving the death before the death even occurs.

The following lines also connote a situation where the friend is dying for far too long, and since the narrator thinks he has already done his grieving early, he want's death's release to come quicker for his poor friend:

"Blended sunrise
And it's a dying world
Humming Rheingold
We scavenge up our clothes"

The sunrise is "blended" becuase the narrator has mixed emotions about his friend living to see another day. A sunrise is normally a good thing. The dawn of a new day. Possibilities. Here, though, another day for his dying friend is just another day of prolonged suffering. The narrator wants this whole death thing to get wrapped up. The image of people humming an opera while tidying up their once-strewn clothes also suggests an atmosphere of "getting ready." "Come on, Death, you wanker--we're expecting you already!"

The song then repeats the chorus, but this time the narrator says he is "resentful" that he and his friend are strangers when they meet. This suggests his effort to get the grieving over with early is not entirely effective. He is relapsing back into anger.

His sorrow is deepening and he can't quite accept that death will be a good thing for his friend at this stage, but he continues to try to get the grieving over with so that he might finally reach that acceptance. See the following lines:

"Cold tired fingers
Tapping out your memories
Halfway sadness
Dazzled by the new"

Here, the narrator is "tapping out" his memories of his friend. Tapping them out--perhaps by typing out words or writing musical notes--on a sheet (recall the double entendre) of paper. But the narrator taps out these memories only with "halfway sadness" because despite his grief he is "dazzled by the new"--perhaps his defensive mechanism of getting the grieving out of the way will work after all. He is still "dazzled" by good and "new" things happening in his OWN life while he cries out at the unfairness surrounding his friend dying while he get's to live. I also think the use of "tapping" is interesting because it makes me think of a drug user "tapping" a needle before injecting. Chilling.

Then, as his friend still lays dying, the narrator actually touches his friend. They embrace, and suddenly the effort to get the grieving over with and reach acceptance fails. The narrator is overcome:

"Your embrace
It was all that I feared
That whirling room
We trade by vendu"

The embrace (presumably taking place in the hospital, with the friend on his death bed) was "all that [the narrator] feared." It snapped him out of his efforts to accept the death, and sent him into a tailspin of grief. The (hospital) room was "whirling" as he feels himself lose his composure. The "we trade by vendu" line suggests some type of bartering. Perhaps he is promising changes in his own life if only God might see fit to intervene and stop his friend from dying.

Finally, the narrator's efforts fail all out:

"But his Steely resolve
Is falling from me"

The friend is now so close to death he is clueless. He seems almost to possess a "steely resolve" as he accepts his fate. But the narrator's steely resolve is failing him. He cannot hide his pain anymore.

He cries out to his friend,

"My poor soul
All bruised passivity"

The "poor soul" is his friend, and the use of the possessive here suggests he is adopting or claiming his friend--"feeling his pain" as Bill Clinton liked to say. The friend is too far gone now to feel that pain, so it is being TRANSFERRED to the narrator. Perhaps this was part of the bargain he struck with God when "trad[ing] by vendu."

That the narrator is now feeling--acutely, physically--his dying friend's pain is evident in the next line:

"All your regrets
Ride rough-shod over me."

The dying friend no longer has any regrets. But what regrets he WOULD have if he were coherent enough to feel them, are being transferred to the narrator. They are "riding rough-shod" over him, tearing him up. This is more than he can possibly bear. He is overcome with grief.

Then, at that moment, as the narrator allows himself to break down, he realizes it is a good thing his friend was so far gone so as to find him a "stranger":

I'm so glad
That we're strangers when we meet
I'm so thankful
That we're strangers when we meet
I'm in clover
For we're strangers when we meet."

He is now "glad," "thankful," and "in clover" (lucky) that his friend does not recognize him. He can therefore cry out anonymously. He is not accountable to anyone for letting himself feel--and show--the pain. After all, he and his friend are reduced to "strangers." It's o.k. to wail in front of a stranger--s/he is not your "friend" anymore, so you don't have to put on a show of false strength for them. Go ahead, let it out.

The narrator then reaffirms his love for his dying friend, but also reaffirms his realization that it is a good thing they are "strangers" right now:

"Heel head over
But we're strangers when we meet."

"Heel head over" is a twist of "head over heels"--suggesting love. But because it is jumbled up and backwards, it can also suggest a letting go. Almost an "I love you, but goodbye" finale. RIP, chap.

What an amazing and astoundingly sad, sad song. Thank you David.

Zigbot

LaughingGnoome
(electric tomato)
07/08/03 09:39 PM
Re: thread revival-strangers when we meet and grief new [re: zigbot]  

Zigbot, im glad you read and enjoyed this thread! I enjoyed reading your interpretation, i read it all. Im still not convinced (100%) about the meaning of the song myself.

I reckon it could be Angie (The video strongly suggests this anyway), or it could be about the death of a friend/loved one after a long debilitating degenerative illness.

Its a truly beautiful song whatever its about.







zigbot
(grinning soul)
07/09/03 01:54 AM
Re: thread revival-strangers when we meet and grief new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

Hey LG, glad you read it (are you the only one?). I should also mention that part of the reason I think the song is about a friend who did drugs rather than a lover is the video. I saw it again recently on my BoB CD. I TOTALLY think the flowers were deliberately chosen for their meanings (which suggest a platonic relationship, if I recall correctly from the thread on that). I don't buy the "they were put together because they looked nice" crap. In part because, IMO, the bouquet actually does NOT look nice. The flowers are loosely arranged (I think on purpose, so that the viewer can actually MAKE OUT what flowers are in the bunch, and do the homework on the "language of flowers" bit). The only reason I would discount the "it's about Angie" idea is that I honestly don't know what, if any, relationship David has with her today.

Confession time: I just bought a bunch of db bios on amazon.com, and threw in Angie's "Backstage Passes" at the last minute. I know lots of fans think it's crap (or so I've been told), but I'm curious, and hell, I got it for only like an additional $8 because I "bundled" it with an order of other Bowie stuff.

I'm a sincere Bowie freak, but have been kind of out of the loop for a while--life got weird, interesting, and busy. I have some catching up to do.

Do you know what the deal is b/w db and Angie nowadays? I'm not sure I can wait until amazon gets around to shipping my stuff.

Take care, and I totally and thoroughly enjoy your posts. It's nice to see quality thought and analysis on this site. --But, hey, man, do you, like, have a job or something? I envy the amount of time you seem to have to devote to this. (jealous, jealous me)

Zigbot

Queen_Bitch_101
(wild eyed peoploid)
07/09/03 09:12 AM
Re: thread revival-strangers when we meet and grief new [re: zigbot]  

Zigbot, Laughing and you have finally convinced me that this song is definitely about AIDS! congratulations Zigbot, I enjoyed very much reading your interpretation .

I actually think it could be not about a lover he had at the time he wrote the song, but that he had in the past, because of the way it's written, and also about the video. By the way, I wrote the bit about the flowers, so I thank you for you don't believe in the "they looked nice" thing.

As you confirmed, the flowers meaning are "platonism". But it still means love, no friendship. And what makes me think that this video deals with them as lovers, it's that at one moment, Bowie puts the bunch away and inclines his head as if he was going to kiss the girl. And at another moment, he caresses the pillow as a lover would do at the memory of a past time.

So I definitely don't think it's about Angie, of course.

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

zigbot
(grinning soul)
07/09/03 12:41 PM
Re: thread revival-strangers when we meet and grief new [re: Queen_Bitch_101]  

Woohoo! Two people have read my interpretation! I'm on a roll.

Glad you enjoyed it, QB, I enjoyed yours and LG's thoughts as well. I think you were spot on about the flowers.

Last, on the whole "mismatched socks" thing, I would just LOVE to know if Bowie intended that or whether it's just some odd coincidence.

Take care,

Zigbot

aladynsane
(absolute beginner )
11/02/03 06:46 PM
Re: Strangers When We Meet - Aids new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

Well, first I want to make clare: I couldn't do an interpretation line by line of the song like you do (I don't speak english and I write this with a dictionary). I've read the posts and I'm agree with most of you say. I'm sure -there are many lines that suggests me this- that death, illness and a very close relationship are some of the main points of the song but there's something that intrigues me: the title. I also think the word "strangers" in this song has a depth meaning, not only "unknown". For me the title of the track is a reference to the time, to the passage of time. It's a beautiful and a painful expression for saying that the difficult situations lived make people change, become "other person" -a stranger person-. So "I'm bewildered for we're strangers when we meet" could mean that the narrator (who is living a special hard period in his life at the moment) can't believe that he and his friend/lover have been happy before this. And "I'm resentful for we're strangers when we meet" seems here a sad regret, a sign of the impotence of the narrator who knows that now they can't be the ones they've been, but before this situation they can't value their lifes like they value now. And the final "I'm so glad/ I'm so thankful/ I'm so clover" contain not only the acceptation of the inevitable havoc (death, illness, pain) that life causes, but a bitter gratitud for what life bring us although we can't enjoy it when it's happening.
Well, that's all for today (this is my first post).
I only hope you understand my english.



7thLabyrinth
(mortal with potential)
07/30/07 02:02 PM
Re: The Leper new [re: bowiefanpeter]  

Exactly!! The AIDS explanation is amazingly clever, but it just doesn't fit in the Outside world. Is about death, that's for sure, but I still think is Leon mourning his lost lover Baby Grace....

There is no Hell like an old Hell....

kipt
(electric tomato)
08/04/07 04:56 PM
Re: The Leper new [re: 7thLabyrinth]  

I do think though that it is ambiguous enough that it could mean different things on its own and on Outside.




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