The Daily Bowie #68 - "Strangers When We Meet"
Might be a commercial failure.
Might not have suited its albums.
Might be "standard."
I liked it.
I like it.
"STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET"
The Buddha of Suburbia
FROM PUSHING FOR THE DAME - "STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET":
“Strangers When We Meet” appears on two Bowie albums, neither of which it suited. On Buddha of Suburbia, its first, sparser incarnation stood out as the most “standard” track of the record, though it sounded undercooked when compared with the effulgence of “Untitled No. 1.” Realizing that he’d thrown away a possible hit on an album that wasn’t released in the US, Bowie reworked “Strangers” in the last sessions of Outside, for which it served as the closing track.
On Outside, the bright chorus melody of “Strangers” was a payoff for a listener who had endured a long, dark, claustrophobic album. Coming after a set of 18 “segues” and generally ominous tracks, “Strangers” felt like a boarded-up window being pried open to let in the sunlight. That said, “Strangers” also sounded like a bonus track, like something appended to the album after it was used in a film.
“Strangers” seems at heart one of Bowie’s transient songs, one more suited for the stateless company of “Holy Holy,” “John, I’m Only Dancing,” “Under Pressure” and “Alabama Song” than it was for any album. It was a pure single that Bowie instead netted and mounted in two different tableaux. And while it felt like a hit, “Strangers” wound up a relative obscurity. Released as Outside‘s second single, it was eclipsed by its B-side, a so-called “live” version (it wasn’t) of “Man Who Sold the World.” “Strangers” only reached #39 in the UK and didn’t chart anywhere else in the world but Sweden. Had it been Outside‘s lead-off single, or had Bowie put it out ahead of the album in, say, spring 1995, perhaps it could’ve had more space to thrive in.
Its commercial failure was a shame, as “Strangers” has one of Bowie’s sturdiest melodies and most haunting lyrics of his later years. It should have been ranked with “Absolute Beginners” and “Modern Love” as one of Bowie’s beloved “silver age” hits; “Strangers,” rather than “Jump They Say,” feels like it should have been the last big Bowie pop moment. Perhaps it was too somber for its time; the doomed, conflicted relationship that dominates its lyric denying any easy access for a listener.
"Strangers When We Meet"
- BUDDHA OF SUBURBIA - 1993
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1605.10 - 7:00
NOTE ON WHY THE DAILY BOWIE IS NO LONGER DAILY: For 53 days, I completed daily Bowie posts. My schedule is too demanding to make a post every day, so this will now be a feature that is called The Daily Bowie, but it will not be daily. I will post as I can. I will post often. But if I miss a day, I will skip it. Otherwise, I get in the position of making five Bowie posts all in one day, and that's a lot of Bowie for people to swallow all at once... (yeah, leaving that badly phrased, innuendo packed statement. I bet Bowie would have laughed at it).