A screenshot of David Bowie atop a stuffed-animal monkey in the new video… (DavidBowie.com / Columbia )
David Bowie turned 66 on Tuesday, and to celebrate he delivered a surprise gift while much of America was sleeping: A new song called “Where Are We Now?" from a forthcoming full-length album, “The Next Day.”
Yes, the Thin White Duke, long thought to be retired, has been quietly and without fanfare working on his first new work in a decade. The album, Bowie’s 30th studio recording, will be released via Columbia Records in March.
Delivered exclusively to iTunes, Bowie’s new song and accompanying video are rather moribund. A crawling work recorded in New York but set in Berlin, the video features shots of the neighborhood in which the singer lived when he was recording his so-called Berlin Trilogy -- “Low,” “Heroes” and “Lodger” -- in the 1970s. The camera roams the city while Bowie's head, sitting atop the body of a stuffed animal on a shelf in an apartment, mouths the lyrics. Next to him is another stuffed toy with a woman's head. This partner head never utters a word; rather, occasionally she gives Bowie a sideways glance.
The clip shows images of the apartment where Bowie lived while recording those records, and as the camera roams the city, Bowie sings the chorus, forlorn and seemingly confused: “Where are we now? Where are we now?”
Produced by Tony Visconti, whose work with Bowie over the decades has been some of the singer’s best, the song roams and wanders, dense with tension but with little outward aggression. Visconti, in fact, produced the entirety of “The Next Day,” just as he did Bowie’s previous two records of the ‘00s, “Heathen” and “Reality” -- as well as much of the artist’s classic work.
The next obvious question whenever there’s a Bowie sighting is “Will he perform live?” No mention of that is anywhere to be found on the artist’s newly unveiled website, so idle speculation that Bowie will be gigging a certain desert music festival must remain just that.