After some consideration I’ve decided to just write a bit about each of the songs on hours… in order. Nothing too fancy. It’s a rainy and quiet Thursday here, nothing much is going on, so let us begin.
I’m actually a little hesitant to write about “Thursday’s Child” because it is very close to my heart. In the dark days of 1999 — which wasn’t a horrible year, necessarily, just a strange and confusing and sort of lonely one — it was a beacon of hope. And now, as I sit here thinking about where I was then and where I am now… well, just take a good listen to this thing and you’ll probably understand where I’m coming from.
This is the rare case where I disagree with Chris O’Leary, who calls the character in this song “a loser in love.” I can understand that, given the generally dour mood of hours…, it’s hard to take the apparent optimism of “Thursday’s Child” at face value; but I’ve listened to it many times — five times just today — and I can’t hear anything in it but sincerity.
The portrait Bowie paints in the first verse is clearly not himself; one thing you could not say about his life is that “nothing much happened.” But coded though it may be, I think that this is really another of his many love songs to Iman. Theirs is one of rock’s great love stories; their devotion to each other never seems to have wavered. I remember reading a profile of Iman written a year or so after David died, in which she refused to refer to him as “my late husband.” Just “my husband,” she insisted — i.e., the one and only, now and forever.
What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good love story.
But before we all dissolve in a cloud of sweet sentimentality, let’s have a look at the deeply weird video David made for this song:
I have questions. Like, why are not just video Dave’s singing, but incidental noises like the faucet, audible over the song? And did anybody really think this disturbing little movie was going to help get a song in the charts? Or was it just, “nobody plays videos anymore anyway, so fuck it?” (Certainly I never saw it at the time; I only just learned of its existence now, and I kinda sorta wish I hadn’t.)
But mostly I just have to ask, “What?” I have no idea what I just saw and I guess I have to give Bowie (and his director, Walter Stern) credit for that. Still throwing curveballs from beyond the grave; may it always be so.