Ive never much liked this song, but i have often been curious about what it is about. Modern Love meaning Homosexuality has the ring of truth to me. The line "I catch a paper boy", also suggests homosexuality, especially if its a "paper boy" he is catching instead of a "paper" boy! "Things dont really change" - as in homosexuality is still not fully tolerated. This could also mean that the current knowledge says (the paper) that you cant change your sexuality "things dont really change", but i prove it wrong - "im standing in the wind". The "wind" represents change - new experiences blowing through the staleness, representing homosexual experiences. But Bowie will not commit to just that lifestyle, "never wave bye bye".
Theres no sign of life" - is an analogy to a crop field. Nothing grows there, "theres no sign of life" - meaning he cannot have children this way, a gay relationship is infertile. "Im lying in the rain" - suggesting he is having a heterosexual relationship. Rain brings life to the field. But he will not be washed away in the process, ie he will not commit fully.
The lines "When to go out" represents making a choice between a hetero or homo relationship, making this clear. "When to stay in" - means keeping his sexual business to himself.
Think of the lines "But I never wave bye bye" couldnt this mean -> "But i never wave boy - boy" ? This could refer to him never stating his bisexuality formally "wave", Then he says "But i try i try", which means he tried both genders i try i try (twice). Which brings us on to how "i never wave bye bye" should be viewed or heard - "i never wave bi bi .
"Modern love - walks beside me
Modern love - walks on by
Modern love - gets me to the church on time"
The above lines represent homosexual relationships. He admits he had them "walks beside me", but they didnt last "walks on by" (walks on bi ?). Made him want to think about settling down with a girl.
"Church on time - terrifies me
Church on time - makes me party
Church on time - puts my trust in god and man"
The above part is about heterosexual relationships. "Church on time" = marriage. He isnt impressed with being purely heterosexual, too boring "makes me party". (remember how he describes homosexuality - as a new experience, a breath of fresh air - "wind").
" God and man - no confessions
God and man - no religion
God and man - don't believe in modern love"
According to everything he is taught by priests and the church, whatever he does he should not choose homosexuality.
"Theres no sign of life" could refer to the doom of all gay couples (back then anyway) to never be able to have biological children. Then "Its just the power to charm" further hammers this idea home, there is nothing long lasting, like making a life, in that direction.
The analogies he uses for heterosexual and homosexual relationships are to be swept away by the wind, or drowned by the rain. The "rain" in the song represents the female fertility. The wind represents the homosexual lifestyle, this is suggested by the lines, "I catch a paper boy, but things dont really change" - meaning the papers indicate that homosexuality is wrong, "paper" represents conservatism, which is the opposite to the "wind", "wind" represents change and new experiences. As stated above, "I catch the paper boy but things dont really change" - could also mean they tell me you cannot change your sexuality, but here i am proving them wrong, "standing in the wind".
In both cases Wind And Rain can have negative connotations if the person exposed to them goes to far in that (one) direction) - in other words it is best to dabble in both than take either one too far. However they are each good things representing new experiences and rebirth (life) respectively.
"I catch a paper boy
But things don't really change
I'm standing in the wind
But I never wave bye-bye"
Represents relationships with men.
"There's no sign of life
It's just the power to charm
I'm lying in the rain
But I never wave bye-bye"
Represents relationships with women.
This song is about Bowies bisexuality, and he is stating his belief that it is better to be bisexual, than to commit to either sexuality.
"I dont want to eat, its a waste of time" - The Unknown Junkie