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We can be heroes, by David Bowie

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1977, Berlin. David Bowie, who has moved to the german city to escape from fame and drugs, shares a flat with Iggy Pop and is working on three albums. Since inspiration comes from anything and anywhere, one fine afternoon of july, Bowie looks outside the window from the Hansa Studios. He notices something outside, near the Berlin War. There is a couple kissing, and some fragments start to take shape in his mind, related to a basic track in which he had been working in with Brian Eno some weeks before. It was just five or six chords, since at that time Bowie and Eno were using “creative dilemmas”, consisting in the building of layered tracks using aphorisms to encourage lateral thinking, that would later inspire melody and lyrics.

Bowie starts to remember those chords, and disciplines himself to write something about the love scene that he is watching. But it´s not enough. He needs more. Bowie shows the progression chords to the band, and together they build an eight-minute groove with the participation of the guitarist Carlos Alomar, the bassist George Murray and the drummer Dennis Davis. “Heroes” is born. And another legend starts in the middle of the Cold War, after the shadows of the second Great World War, in one of the devastated hearts of Europe in which Bowie is trying to find himself again. The couple of lovers by the Wall were not strangers to him. And maybe, not only the circumstances of the encounter, but also the true story about the lovers, were what inspired Bowie to write and compose the song. Another example of making expressible the inexpressible.

Photograph: Christian Simonpietri/Sygma/Corbis
Photograph by Christian Simonpietri/Sygma/Corbis

Bowie recognized recently to Classic Rock that “I always said it was a couple of lovers by the Wall that prompted the idea for Heroes. Actually, it was Tony Visconti [Bowie producer] and his girlfriend. Tony was married at the time, so I couldn´t talk about it. But I can now say that the lovers were Tony and a German girl [Antonia Maass] that he´d met while we were in Berlin. I think possibly his marriage was in the last few months. And it was very touching because I could see that Tony was very much in love with this girl, and it was that relationship which sort of motivated the song“.

A musician, as a poet, can transform every passing day into a history to be shared and remember.

You can leave a memory about Bowie in “The Guardian”.

Miriam Blackbird.

“I, I can remember (I remember)
Standing, by the wall (by the wall)
And the guns, shot above our heads (over our heads)
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall)
And the shame, was on the other side
Oh we can beat them, forever and ever
Then we could be heroes, just for one day

We can be heroes
We can be heroes
We can be heroes
Just for one day
We can be heroes

We’re nothing, and nothing will help us
Maybe we’re lying, then you better not stay
But we could be safer, just for one day
Oh-oh-oh-ohh, oh-oh-oh-ohh, just for one day


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