Streams: David Bowie, “Where Are We Now?” (2013)

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You knew that if David Bowie ever ended his premature retirement, it would be like this — completely out of nowhere. One of rock’s most mercurial figures, he has returned as suddenly as he left.

“Where Are We Now,” released to the surprise of almost every one this morning, represents Bowie’s first new music since 2003 — and it begins on an elegiac, appropriately melancholic note. Time away tends to do that to a human heart. But, as with all things Bowie, things are not entirely what they first seemed.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Producer Nile Rodgers takes us inside the sessions for David Bowie’s chart-topping early-1980s hit album ‘Let’s Dance,’ which featured Rodgers’ band Chic.]

The track — likely owing to the presence of Tony Visconti, a key collaborator who was there for the classic Berlin period of Low, Heroes and The Lodger — grows ever more complex, ever more interesting. “Where Are We Now,” available now on iTunes, is the lead single from a promised new album called The Next Day, due from Columbia Records in March.

Wait. Wasn’t this guy last seen telling Olympic organizers, hoping he’d participate in the London opening ceremonies, to piss off?

Instead, here he is: Not with something to outsized and dramatic, but with a strangely entrancing initial rumination on someone “lost in time,” surrounded by cumulus, almost ambient keyboards.

Soon, however, Bowie begins building toward a stirring, anthematic conclusion, one that reaffirms — though all of the confusion of loss, and memory and time — the human connection that often keeps us moving forward, repeating “as long as there’s me, as long as there’s you.”

In all, Visconti has worked on 12 Bowie albums, including celebrated efforts like Scary Monster and The Man Who Sold the World. Based on “Where Are We Now?,” this one could easily be the most anticipated collaboration yet.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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