Teenage Wildlife

IMPORTANT: Use your registry nickname as your username when logging in to Conversation Piece!


BowieTalk
   >> Interpretation
Thread views: 8307 *Threaded Mode

Pages in this thread: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | (show all)
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.


Get Bowie Downunder:
Sign the Petition | Join the Community

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




Pages in this thread: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | (show all)
*Threaded Mode
Jump to

Teenage Wildlife Davie Bowie | Email Us! Forums powered by WWWThreads v5.1.5perl

Teenage Wildlife Home Page Bowie's music Info on Bowie Other Media Have your say! Search the Site Help me!


Toolbar (Interact)

Etete Systems