For years David Bowie had been quiet. Some fans just assumed he had retired. But in the wee hours of January 8 — his birthday, as it happens– he announced the imminent release of his first album in a decade, The Next Day. He then released — with no prior adieu — a single and video for “Where Are We Now?”
This morning (December 5), Bowie again, with no heads-up given, debuted a new video for “I’d Rather Be High (Venetian Mix – Wasted Edit).”
The video, featuring what appears to be vintage footage of soldiers celebrating their return home from war, reflects the lyrics in the seemingly anti-war song: “I’d rather be high/I’d rather be flying/I’d rather be dead/Or out of my head/Than training these guns on those men in the sand.”
As for Bowie, the footage of him singing the song is filtered and warped. He’s present, but not but not as present as compared to his recent clips for “The Next Day” or “The Stars (Are Out Tonight).” Or even his recent Louis Vuitton ad.
This year has seen Bowie pull off the unusual trick of maintaining a pop culture buzz for months on end without making a single promotional appearance or even performing. Instead, he has promoted his art with more art as in the aforementioned videos, as well as a clip for a remix of “Love Is Lost.” That remix, done by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, was part of a batch of extra songs that made up the 2 CD/DVD expanded edition of The Next Day, which helped to keep Bowie in the news.
Will Bowie continue to promote his latest album into 2014? Or has he been using the time he’d normally spend on touring and promotion to make a new album? Perhaps he’ll just vanish from the pop culture landscape with as little explanation as he re-entered it. Only time will tell. But suffice to say, Bowie taught press-hungry artists a lesson in 2013: sometimes the best way to keep people talking about you is to say nothing at all and just create great art.