Why do people want Big Brother? It’s a complex question but the simple answer is: Freedom is hard. It’s a question that has to be answered every hour of every day. Many of us would rather have someone else decide.

I get it. And if that’s your choice, you have a right to it, I guess. The problem comes when a certain group tries to give freedom away for the rest of us. (Of course we can’t even agree, anymore, on what freedom is exactly; that’s a whole other conversation for another time.) Lately the fascist-adjacent rhetoric emanating from the campaign of the Convicted Felon Who Shall Not Be Named — and being embraced by what seems like a flabbergasting percentage of the populace — has been giving me the heebie-jeebies.

America: Please don’t. I’m begging here.

But why am I telling you this? Every reader of this blog is a smart, sensible, good-looking person. Here’s some Bowie for you.

Playlist:

Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing
“In the opening line, ‘Sweet Thing’ contains the lowest note Bowie had recorded in a studio album (C2) until ‘I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spacecraft’ for the album Heathen (2002), where he growled the word ‘Well’ (G1) towards the end of the song.” —Wikipedia

Rock’n’Roll with Me
This was a bit of an odd fit on Diamond Dogs and it’s a bit of an odd fit here: a rousing power ballad (albeit one with lines about “lizards lying in the heat… trying to remember who to eat”) among the apocalyptic nightmares. But somehow it has to be there.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
An Ohio Players cover, of all things. Might be more in tune with Young Americans, and yet somehow, again, I feel like it belongs here.

We Are the Dead
“‘We Are The Dead’ lumbers like ‘Cygnet Committee’, that old death knell of 1960s utopianism. As Bowie reaches the song’s climax, he momentarily loses the definitive article, ‘We are dead,’ he says, reiterated by John Cale that year on Fear. The precarious nature of love in a hostile world resonates here far beyond Orwell’s pages: it could be the French resistance, hearing the occupation on the stairs; it could be the love that dare not speak its name, pressed ‘through the night, knowing it’s right.’ On screen or on record, ‘We Are The Dead’ may be Bowie’s finest performance.” —Matthew Lindsay, The Hideous Ecstasy of Fear: Diamond Dogs at 50, The Quietus

Big Brother
“A love song to submission, a fascist and a cocaine hymn, ‘Big Brother’ was possibly intended to close Bowie’s Nineteen Eighty-Four adaptation, as little could top it dramatically. Opening in apprehension with a moaning synthetic choir and ‘trumpet’ reveille via Mellotron, after two B minor verses where Bowie sings despairing, fifth-sinking phrases (‘a-sylum,’ ‘of mayhem’), ‘Big Brother’ gave itself over to power.” —Chris O’Leary

Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family
“The digital delay fascinated David. We were applying it to backing vocals, guitar solos, drum fills and several other elements. With David anything goes. I knew this was a future shock themed album and I worked out many ways to make things sound shocking when necessary. Probably the most radical thing we did with the Eventide was after I explained that the digital delay could sample and store sounds, then I gave him a demonstration. The sampler and its cousins, the Harmonizer, the Instant Flanger, the Instant Phaser, were the first digital devices that changed the music of the late 70s dramatically. David asked if I could capture the word ‘brother’ at the end of the last track, ‘Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family’, and repeat it ad infinitum. Of course I could, but lo and behold, that short word was too long for the puny memory banks in the machine. Storage was very limited in those days. So I managed to capture just ‘bro’ with a snare drum hit and that actually sounded amazing, like a robot with AI that was not working very well singing it.” —Tony Visconti