Slow Burn

Let’s come back to the Heathen years. That was, of course, David Bowie’s big post 9/11 album, written and recorded immediately before, during and after that historical event. Those were rough days for people with an already shaky faith in humanity. Was the whole world just descending into madness? Well, yeah, but no more than usual, as it turned out. What we can hear reflected in this music is the emotional contradiction that was so apparent at the time; the contrast between the incredibly inspiring display of individual human courage and compassion; and alongside, a bitches’ brew of religious fanaticism, institutional failure and political corruption that made a person not want to live on this planet anymore. It was a hard time to hold on to romantic ideals about the little human heart’s resilience. Heathen managed to be both bleak and uplifting, as if quixotic romanticism was the only redeeming virtue in a world that was already undeniably halfway fallen apart.