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 88: Breaking Glass
Taken from Low (1977)
I drew something awful on it…
By 1976, David moved away from chaos which accompanied livin a megastar in America. After taking a few months to recuperate in Switzerland, he decided to move to Berlin, where he would record the album which represented a most dramatic shift in his musical style.
Bowie’s Thin White Duke period left him eager to put the drug culture of Los Angeles behind him. By then he’d developed a serious cocaine habit which nearly destroyed him. He’d also become embroiled in controversy following some comments in which he praised Hitler and expressed support for fascist ideology. He blamed his erratic behavior on his addictions, later explaining:
“It was a dangerous period for me. I was at the end of my tether physically and emotionally and had serious doubts about my sanity”
When one considers that Breaking Glass was under two minutes in length and contains only 35 words in lyric content, the impact made with so little is quite remarkable. David emphasizes the words “Listen” and “See” with reference to the central theme of Sound and Vision, the driving force behind Low. The song also sees Bowie closing the book on a very dark chapter in his life.
Baby, I’ve been breaking glass in your room again. Listen
Is this referencing some past, troubled relationship which were the result of his debauched lifestyle choices? He’s making a racket and expressing frustrations so she’d better listen!!!
Don’t look at the carpet, I drew something awful on it. See
Is this line a reference to the occult, a summoning of spirits? Were the diagrams he refers to some manifestation of occult numerology, were pentagrams drawn in blood? He’s telling her not to look but then orders her to see.
You’re such a wonderful person but you’ve got problems, I’ll never touch you
Is he blaming her? Did she carry the plague of destructive behavior into his life, or was he just reacting to it? Either way, the lyrics suggest an unhealthy obsession with a chaotic type madness which he needs to extricate himself from. He was in love but he can’t go there; he needs his sanity more!
The song abruptly ends at 1:53, giving the listener the impression that there is more to the story that hasn’t been told. Critics and fans have referred to Low as an anti punk record, Kraftwerk performed by an R&B band. Listen for yourselves and draw your own conclusions.
Breaking glass in your room again
At the carpet
I drew something awful on it
You’re such a wonderful person
But you got problems oh-oh-oh-oh
I’ll never touch you