From the vantage point of today, why wouldn’t you want a bunch of feedback-laden, industrial-sounding songs about unsavory things from David Bowie and a bunch of guys with bad hairdos? Like, bring on all of those things. When you’re browsing for David Bowie songs, don’t you sometimes think “I really want something that sounds like Nine Inch Nails but have it be about Thailand’s child trafficking industry”? Here is David Bowie’s Nine Inch Nails-sounding song about child prostitution. Which, by the way, was a subject that came up because of the very legit activism of guitarist Reeves Gabrels and his investigative journalist wife:
“That song actually came out of an investigative magazine article that Reeves’ wife wrote on child prostitution around the world. And one of the places she went to was Thailand. Reeves had the rather unsavory job of hiring the children and then getting them out of the brothels to Sara, who could then interview them. We were just talking about those experiences one night. And I’ve also been in Thailand and witnessed the same kind of thing. The actual approach of how to write the song was quite devastating. ‘Cause it was so easy to slip into sensationalism. I tried all kinds of ways of approaching it … the moral point of view … and I just ended up doing it straight narrative. That seems to make it stronger than any other approach.”
Why this approach wasn’t met with wild acclaim in its own time, I have no idea. Maybe because 1991 sucked?