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   >> Interpretation
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strangeDivine
(stardust savant)
09/21/03 01:46 AM
Please come away...Just for the day new  

It is a commonly-held belief amongst Bowie fans that the song “The Bewlay Brothers” refers to David’s brother Terry Burns, and, perhaps even more specifically, David’s relationship with his half-brother. We know that he wrote about him in at least two other songs – possibly more. So it doesn’t seem too surprising that “Bewlay Brothers” could be about him. But this is all very general. It wasn’t until I read LaughingGnoome’s interpretation some time back that I really began to think that the song is not just some broad comment on the relationship – that it in fact refers to a very specific event, or series of events, what ever the case may be. I must say that that interpretation has not left my mind since I read it. However, I have come to imagine that the events described were something very different.

My (admittedly vague) suspicion is that in “The Bewlay Brothers,” David is recalling an early life experience with extraterrestrials that the two brothers shared. Now, whether the experience(s) was/were “real” or imagined is pretty much irrelevant as far as this interpretation is concerned. The truth is that we just don’t know whether planet Earth has been visited by aliens. Therefore, I think any debate about the brother’s experience(s) will merely lead us to an intellectual impasse. To avoid that, I am going to work within the assumptive framework of both individuals involved believing (at the time) at least, that their experience had some/total basis in physical reality.

During the time that David and Terry would have been living in the same home, the “contactee” phenomena would most likely have been at its peak – the real emergence of the “abductee” reports beginning (in most people’s minds) with the Barney and Betty Hill case in the early 1960’s. That, along with Bowie’s exposure to American popular culture and undoubtedly science fiction makes me almost certain that he confronted the idea some time during childhood. David always toyed with the idea that he would become insane himself. And some might even argue that he did or nearly did in the 70s. But why did his aunt say to the press that she felt that David was afraid to visit Terry in the institution because he was “terrified” of going insane himself? Surely someone wouldn’t become insane because of some occasional visits with someone in an institution. Perhaps there was something that David didn’t want to remember…


Here comes Johnny Bore,
He collapsed on the floor
They shot him up with milk
And when he died sold him for silk


strangeDivine
(stardust savant)
09/21/03 01:47 AM
Re: Please come away...Just for the day new [re: strangeDivine]  

Now for the lyrical analysis!


And so the story goes they wore the clothes
They said the things to make it seem improbable
The whale of a lie like they hope it was

Here the Bewlay Brothers (David and Terry) are introduced. I can’t even imagine what, if any, significance the pseudonym “Bewlay” has. The narrative begins with their deception. They appear (possibly quite deliberately) as any normal English kids at the time should. Based on “the things they said” the “clothes they wore,” it seemed impossible that they could be anything else but average. Anything fantastic was simply “improbable.”

And the Goodmen Tomorrow
Had their feet in the wallow
And their heads of Brawn were nicer shorn
And how they bought their positions with saccharin and trust
And the world was asleep to our latent fuss

Again, the theme here is an appearance of normalcy. However, the events about to be described are anything but normal.

Sighing, the swirl through the streets
Like the crust of the sun

What person/place/thing would cause the air to swirl in the streets outside their home that also produces a light bright enough to be compared to “the crust of the sun”?

The Bewlay Brothers
In our Wings that Bark
Flashing teeth of Brass
Standing tall in the dark
Oh, And we were Gone
Hanging out with your Dwarf Men
We were so turned on
By your lack of conclusions

The young men were riding high in their “wings that bark.” They were in fact born up by a spacecraft. “Flashing teeth of brass” – this refers to the lights on the craft flashing. They were “standing tall in the dark” because they were quite literally flying above the world in the night. Also this could refer to a grandiose feeling that they may possibly have had because of their perceived role that went beyond that of the people they saw around them.

“Hanging out with your Dwarf Men” really is the key phrase and possibly the most unnerving. Who were these “dwarf men”? Were they actual little people that David and Terry encountered on-board that spacecraft? Is it a metaphor for common society – those not initiated into the secrets of the universe as David and Terry were?

“We were so turned on By your lack of conclusions,” again, deception. They took a perverse delight in the lack of knowledge of their experiences of the people in their lives. It was their secret. It was their source of power and at the same time terror.

Where else do “small people” turn up in Bowie songs? In The Laughing Gnome, a man capitalizes in the arts because of his relationship with a gnome. Do you see a connection? Did Bowie capitalize on a genuine/imagined alien experience the way the Laughing Gnome protagonist “earned lots of money” because of the gnome?

It is also interesting to note that the “gnomes” make an appearance in another song – Little Wonder. This song clearly contains a sound of a train, which Terry was killed by. In “I Am With Name” Ramona/David boasts that she “knows who the small friends are.” 1.Outside being an album at least partially associated with insanity and personality fragmentation – especially considering his statements about an interest in “outsider art” produced by the insane, at the time. It is apparent to me that in Bowie songs the appearance of the “little people” always involves insanity.

I was Stone and he was Wax
So he could scream, and still relax, unbelievable

“I was Stone” (I was Ramona A. Stone) – this indicates that David wasn’t as comfortable with the situation as Terry was. He was in fact quite terrified. He was frozen with fear, like a stone. Or, perhaps this is said because it is initially Terry’s experience/delusion, and David is slowly being sucked into it. So that is why he is so uncomfortable. OR, many abductees report loved-ones being rendered unconscious when the visitors come for them. Perhaps David never “saw” the aliens – Terry just related the experiences to him, thus making him a part of it. David was “unconscious” during the proceedings. Which is also very convenient.


Here comes Johnny Bore,
He collapsed on the floor
They shot him up with milk
And when he died sold him for silk


strangeDivine
(stardust savant)
09/21/03 01:48 AM
Re: Please come away...Just for the day new [re: strangeDivine]  

And we frightened the small children away
And our talk was old and dust would flow
Thru our veins and Lo! it was midnight
Back o' the kitchen door
Like the grim face on the Cathedral floor
And the solid book we wrote
Cannot be found today

Their charade of normalcy becomes more difficult to maintain as they become more warped by their obsession. Children fear them, their talk become old – or repetitive and they stayed up all hours discussing it (hence: and Lo! It was midnight back o’ the kitchen door).

“The grim face on the Cathedral floor” is a hint of the delusionary nature of the whole thing. Schizophrenia patients often fill in spaces with detailed patterns in paintings and other works of art, i.e. the “wallpaper cats” of English painter Louis Wain. So it is not unimaginable that someone suffering from schizophrenia might be prone to perceive depictions of objects like faces in the patterns of floor tiles and such.
The “solid book” refers to the firm belief in the validity of their experience. It “cannot be found today,” at least, not for David.

And it was Stalking time for the Moonboys
The Bewlay Brothers
With our backs on the arch
In the Devil-may-be-here
But He can't sing about that
Oh, And we were Gone
Real Cool Traders
We were so Turned On
You thought we were Fakers


Why they would call themselves “moon boys” is fairly self-explanatory. With the reference to the Devil, we are first given a hint that there is a very sinister element at work here. When David says “But he can’t sing about that,” I think, possibly, he means that HE is the only one that can in some way relate these secrets to the world. Terry can’t. He’s in an institution and is not a rock star. “Real cool traders” they trade their sanity for knowledge.

I don’t have too much to say about the rest of the lyrics. But this one is very intriguing – "Shooting-up Pie-in-the-Sky.” We’re all familiar with that phrase. And the line could be taken very simply. But, what if we dismissed the old connotations and imagined it a bit more literally, that is, call to mind the visual image. What would a “pie in the sky” look like, at least, from a ground vantagepoint? I suppose it would look a lot like a flying saucer!

The ending is pretty sinister. I shan’t say much about it. Just listen to it with the previous interpretation in mind – the gnomic voices – the please come away lines………The hallucinatory voices of schizophrenia? Something else entirely?

Lay me place and bake me Pie
I'm starving for me Gravy
Leave my shoes, and door unlocked
I might just slip away
Just for the Day, Hey! Please come Away, Hey! (repeat ad inf.)


Here comes Johnny Bore,
He collapsed on the floor
They shot him up with milk
And when he died sold him for silk


LaughingGnoome
(crash course raver)
09/22/03 01:22 AM
Zane Innane Zane Ouvre Le Chien new [re: strangeDivine]  

In reply to:

But this is all very general. It wasn’t until I read LaughingGnoome’s interpretation some time back that I really began to think that the song is not just some broad comment on the relationship – that it in fact refers to a very specific event, or series of events, what ever the case may be.


We can never be sure what that song is about StrangeDivine, all we can do i think is guess, and try to grasp whatever shape we see in the words as we wish, out of it. Its so open to interpretaton, one could almost see anything one wanted to see in the words, which i guess is the main reason people like to have a stab at it.

One thing is clear though, the portrait of insanity you paint is a very unflattering one, particularly when we think of David Bowie, a man who used whatever insanity he had as all genius uses its insanity - to achieve a great deal. If he was so crazy that he was seeing starships etc, such a person probably couldnt end up as functional as Bowie has done.

Most insane people are so incoherent that their writing seems such gibberish, Bowie's writing on the other hand is eloquent and beautiful.



strangeDivine
(stardust savant)
09/22/03 01:21 PM
Re: Zane Innane Zane Ouvre Le Chien new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

Well, both people involved wouldn't have to have visions etc. To me Bowie seems, at least in his youth, very prone to believing in conspiracy theories, elaborate plots, magical thinking etc. Those traits are often associated with certain personailty "disorders," like schizotypal, for instance, which is also very common among people with schizophrenic relatives. These people, and I believe I'm one of them, usually don't have actual psychotic episodes or hallucinations, but some of the following:


ideas of reference (excluding delusions of reference);

odd beliefs or magical thinking that influences behavior and is inconsistent with subcultural norms (e.g., superstitiousness, belief in clairvoyance, telepathy, or "sixth sense"; in children and adolescents, bizarre fantasies or preoccupations);

unusual perceptual experiences, including bodily illusions;

odd thinking and speech (e.g., vague, circumstantial, metaphorical, overelaborate, or stereotyped);

suspiciousness or paranoid ideation;

inappropriate or constricted affect;

behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric, or peculiar;

lack of close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives;

excessive social anxiety that does not diminish with familiarity and tends to be associated with paranoid fears rather than negative judgments about self.

I think Bowie fits this description pretty well. And if his brother way relaying delusions to a young Bowie, taking into account the innocence of youth and his proclivity toward magical thinking, I can easily imagine David being sucked into a delusional idea even if he wasn't actually a part of it. In Backstage Passes, Angie says that David believed that a coven of witches was trying to steal his semen so that they could bring about the antichrist. I'm sure heavy drug use had a hand in this. But his personal nature was most likely a contributing factor.

But yeah, I think if Bowie was a full-blown schizophrenic he would have had a somewhat difficult time hiding it in the public light. But you never know.

My dream dogs have arrived. My summer turns to fall.

StrangeDrugs
(cracked actor)
09/22/03 08:08 PM
Unbelievable. new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

Dear god you're a patronizing asshole. This whole time I hadn't realised that these interpretations were...interpretive. Now I know, and I feel much better, fuckwit.

Anyway, I'll buy the single event theory, sort of.

The opening is where I have the problem with Greg's interp, but I am much less skilled at communicating my thoughts than he is. I'll try anyway.

The brothers wore the clothes and did the things to make the story seem IMPROBABLE, like the lie they HOPE that it was. If the brothers were indeed witnesses to some event, aliens or otherwise, whatever it was was so terrifying that the boys tried to make it as fantastical as possible, and not give it a chance to seem like truth.

The part about frightening the small children away, again, is exagerating to the point of the fantastic, and the very end (I may just go away hey....)...I see that as a kid stating something so ridiculous that it's not taken seriously. Like "Better leave the door unlocked tonight, mom, just in case I go out with the aliens (or whatever) tonight." And mom pats his head and says "haha, right, Little Davy, aliens."

Does anyone here understand what I'm saying?

Oh, and after sleeping on it, I think one of the strongest lines in the song is "I was stone and he was wax so he could scream and still relax...unbelievable." I think this line is the essential difference between David and Terry, between sanity and madness. They both saw the same thing, but when David saw it, he froze. Turned to stone. Said, "this isn't real...everything's going to be okay...this is some sort of nightmare...maybe I'm crazy..." and so on, flirting with madness, but never accepting it. I saw this thing. Must have been crazy. It wasn't really there. Never becoming crazy. Terry, on the other hand, embraced whatever nightmare they witnessed. He was wax, he was maleable, open to suggestion, open to experience. He could get sucked up in the event, scream, but at the same time, accept it, relax because it was real and he didn't THINK he was crazy, which, ironically makes the difference. Two men see a leprichaun. The one who says, it wasn't there I'm crazy is sane. The one who says it WAS there Im NOT crazy, is crazy. Anyway! Terry was there, it was real..it was unbelievable.

Get what I'm saying, kids? And Gnoome, c'mon...tell be about how stone and wax is about anal sex.

They only want you when you're seventeen;
when you're twenty-one, you're no fun.


LaughingGnoome
(crash course raver)
09/23/03 05:37 PM
Strange by name Strange by nature new [re: StrangeDrugs]  

In reply to:

Dear god you're a patronizing asshole. This whole time I hadn't realised that these interpretations were...interpretive. Now I know, and I feel much better, fuckwit.


Your wasting your time writing all this nonsense, i only reply to people who have something interesting to say (which is why im ignoring most of it, which seems so much bullshit to me - personally). Any conversation with you gets too vulgar for my liking anyway (expletives and curses).

But i will say this, yes the songs lyrics are interpretive, but some songs are more...interpretive than others, but Bewlay Brothers is at the extreme end of that scale.


StrangeDrugs
(cracked actor)
09/23/03 06:40 PM
Re: Strange by name Strange by nature new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

"i only reply to people who have something interesting to say"

Shitface, my interpretation is FASCINATING. Read it. Or are we only supposed to reply in awe of YOUR brilliance, and await the praise you might stick on to our humble musings on your ideas? Lick me.

They only want you when you're seventeen;
when you're twenty-one, you're no fun.


LaughingGnoome
(crash course raver)
09/23/03 07:08 PM
Re: Strange by name Strange by nature new [re: StrangeDrugs]  

Your presentation skills leave a lot to be improved. Starting an address with 'fuckwit', 'asshole' isnt going to make people want to believe you have something of relevence to say in the body of your message. I have observed your posts and your open hostility seldom charms.

However i read it, and it has merit B++, Teacher is feeling generous tonight. As i said work on your presentation skills and i may give you a little golden star as well. .





rockinhorse
(grinning soul)
09/27/03 10:50 PM
Re: Please come away...Just for the day new [re: strangeDivine]  

and continuing with After All and even The Supermen.
Extraterrestrial visits sound right to me. Bowie believed in UFO's big time. Real or imagined we'll never know but one thing's for sure--he's an excellent storyteller.




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