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Ridiculous David Bowie Lyrics, Real and Imagined

February 23, 2010
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(UNRELATED TO TODAY’S POST: A friend sent me a Pope Benedict XVI watch for my birthday. It’s kickass.)

I’m listening to a lot of Bowie these days, not sure why, maybe because I’m writing a lot of poetry and the man knows how to kick out an eclectic beat. Every time “Suffragette City” comes on, I laugh to and at myself, because there was a time, I won’t say how long a time, but there was a time when I thought it was “Esophagus City.” Like: “Don’t lean on me man, ’cause you [six unintelligible syllables…] – that’s Esophagus City!”

It’s [i.e., presumably, The esophagus is] outta sight. She’s all right.

And then after I learned the actual name of the city I was still confused because I had no idea what “suffragette” meant. At the time my mind was as yet unLatinized and I assumed “suffragette” had something to do with suffering. But it doesn’t. For those interested, “suffer” is from the Latin sub, (from) beneath + fero, to bear. “Suffragette” is from suffragium, vote – which in turn comes from sub again + fragor, hullaballoo. You stand on the podium and there’s hullabaloo from beneath. (Play that as you will.) To learn more about suffrage, by all means treat your ears to the passionate yet informative School House Rock track “Sufferin’ ‘Til Suffrage.” Those pilgrim women / Who braved the boat – / They cooked the turkey, but / They could not vote.


Included on the Bowie album I’m listening to is the song “Fashion,” which sounds for all the world like a Flight of the Conchords parody. I’m sure this song inspired numerous Conchords tracks, including “Fashion” (obviously) and “I Told You I Was Freaky.” This is seriously the chorus:

Fashion! (Turn to the left.)

Fashion! (Turn to the right.)

Oooooooooooooo, fashion!

We are the Goon Squad and we’re coming to town.

Beep beep!

I don’t know what to make of it, it starts off just amazingly gay and that’s fair enough, you assume it’ll continue along that line given the subject matter of the piece, but then suddenly it’s taking a page from Falco’s “Der Kommissar” (Don’t turn around; / Der Kommissar’s in town).

What is the Goon Squad? Paparazzi? Fashion designers? David Bowie and some of his friends? Why are they coming to town? So many unanswered questions. You hope they will be cleared up at the end of the piece, but this is what you get instead:

Ooooh, la.

Do do do do do do do do.

Fa. Fa. Fa. Fa. Fashion.

Lalalala la la la la.

Mystifying. You can almost hear Bret and Jemaine in the background taking notes.

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