David Bowie – My Top 100 Favorite Songs: 77

top 100 77 Slow Burn david bowie niall colgan vinyl junkies vj

I recently witnessed the biggest David Bowie fan I know count down his top 100 favorite songs. These were private posts, meant solely for his Facebook family and friends. Something really cool happened over those 100 days.

I’d like to share that countdown with you. Read along, embark upon Niall Colgan’s personal journey while he narrates some of the most intimate aspects of his life with his undying passion for the art of David Bowie. The vid below is a short intro, scroll directly beneath to read the countdown.

Number 77: Slow Burn

Taken From: Heathen (2002)

And here are we

At the center of it all

There is something about Slow Burn that speaks to me. Much like a modern day Always Crashing In The Same Car, Bowie uses the song as an extended metaphor for behaviors which lead us to repeat the same mistakes . My own downward spiral was a slow burn that eventually led to the destruction of every relationship I had. I was caught in a loop which nearly destroyed me, Bowie’s themes of Armageddon were my personal reflection. Through Slow Burn, David was speaking directly to my own predicament, warning me that a complete change was needed if I was to avoid destruction; the metaphor could not be more personal. 

Although David insists this song was written before 9/11 occurred, Slow Burn was released as a single shortly after.  Due to the sensitive nature of the lyrics, Bowie only performed it twice before pulling it from his live sets. Given the decidedly dreary subject matter, my own feeling is that the song just didn’t work well in a live setting. Despite receiving considerable television promotion initially, Slow Burn disappeared from the conversation soon after. Did Bowie consider it too difficult personally? The almost prophetic message contained in the lyrics may have rung too true to him at the time, as he felt a personal affection for New York City

Here shall we live in this terrible town

Where the price for our minds

Shall squeeze them tight like a fist

And the walls shall have eyes

And the doors shall have ears

But we’ll dance in their dark

And they’ll play with our lives

Like a slow burn

The first verse to the song is both powerful and prophetic. Is New York the terrible place where our freedom drove terrorists to hatred and violence? Despite surveillance, we continue to dance while they scheme to hurt us more, their hatred burning slow.  

Leading us on and on and on

Like a slow burn

Turning us round and round and round 

Hark who are we

So small in times such as these

Slow burn

Slow burn

Oh, these are the days

These are the strangest of all

These are the nights

These are the darkest to fall

But who knows?

The loop of (mis)information delivered to us is largely controlled by a few news outlets.  The repetitious barrage of messages fed to the masses lead them to stop questioning, rendering their thoughts irrelevant over time. The bigger picture remains shrouded in darkness.

Twirling us round and round

And upside down

There’s fear overhead

There’s fear overground

Slow burn

If Bowie’s claim to have written these lyrics before 9/11 is accurate, they could not be more chillingly relevant to what would occur soon after. Given the timing of the song and album’s release, it is hard not to interpret David’s focus on armageddon as being directly analogous to the political climate of the time. Taken within that context, Heathen’s relevance has grown over the years as its political overtones remain as current as ever. Was Slow Burn Bowie’s attempt to stay relevant and vital?  Given his state of mind during that period of his life, it is plausible that David saw an opportunity to use his fame to make a personal plea to his audience, for awareness to current sociopolitical issues. Whatever the case, I always felt a certain exhaustion in Bowie’s voice by song’s end.  He has given everything he and has no more to give. 

READ 100, 99, 9884, 83, 82, 81, 80, 79, 78

Slow Burn 

Here shall we live in this terrible town

Where the price for our minds

Shall squeeze them tight like a fist

And the walls shall have eyes

And the doors shall have ears

But we’ll dance in their dark

And they’ll play with our lives

Like a slow burn

Leading us on and on and on

Like a slow burn

Turning us round and round and round 

Hark who are we

So small in times such as these

Slow burn

Slow burn

Oh, these are the days

These are the strangest of all

These are the nights

These are the darkest to fall

But who knows?

Echoes in tenement halls

Who knows?

Though the years spare them all

Like a slow burn

Leading us on and on and on

Like a slow burn

Twirling us round and round

And upside down

There’s fear overhead

There’s fear overground

Slow burn

Slow burn

Like a slow burn

Leading us on and on and on

Like a slow burn

Turning us round and round and round 

And here are we

At the center of it all

Slow burn

Slow burn