Over the last couple days I’d been thinking what I could post to mark David Bowie’s 66th birthday today (also the birthdays of Elvis, 78; Bill Graham, 82; Graham Chapman, 81; Stephen Hawking, 71; Soupy Sales, 87; and on a slightly lesser note, R. Kelly, 46). It was hard to generate too much enthusiasm, as David appeared to have shuffled off into retirement after his last album, Reality, in 2003. It was going to be a link, maybe, to the video for the original version of “Space Oddity,” circa 1969.

But the tricky Mr. B beat me to the punch, shocking the world by releasing a new single and announcing a new album shortly after midnight. What is perhaps most shocking is that he managed to keep it a secret for so long. As an article in the Guardian said,

It’s incredible that, in an era of gossip websites and messageboard rumours, one of the biggest stars in the world, presumed retired, can spend two years making a new album without the merest whisper of it reaching the public. But somehow he did it.

Another interesting twist is the cover, which appears to be simply the cover of the “Heroes” album, with the word “Heroes” crossed out and a white square with the words “The Next Day” obscuring much of the content. Strange and provocative — well done, Mr. Jones and co. As for the music, I like the single — I’m not sure yet if I love it — but I can’t wait to hear more. How long till March?