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Music / Black Tie White Noise

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"When comes the shaking man/A nation in his eyes..."

Black Tie White Noise is the eighteenth studio album by David Bowie, released in 1993.

The poor reception of the albums Tonight and Never Let Me Down, combined with the relative failure of his side-project Tin Machine, saw Bowie's critical standing at a low point. Prior to the release of this album, he met, and later married, the model Iman Abdulmajid. Their wedded bliss was reflected in the songs "The Wedding" and "The Wedding Song".

The album reunited him with producer Nile Rodgers (who helped produced Let's Dance) and his Ziggy-era guitarist Mick Ronson, who would later pass away from liver cancer that same year.

Despite the album receiving lukewarm critical reception at its release, it was nonetheless the album that ultimately ended the Dork Age triggered by the follow-ups to Let's Dance and started his Career Resurrection that would continue until his death in 2016.


The singles produced by this album included the UK Top 10 hit "Jump They Say", as well as the Title Track and "Miracle Goodnight".


  1. "The Wedding" (5:04)
  2. "You've Been Around" (4:45)
  3. "I Feel Free" (4:52)
  4. "Black Tie White Noise" (4:52)
  5. "Jump They Say" (4:22)
  6. "Nite Flights" (4:30)
  7. "Pallas Athena" (4:40)
  8. "Miracle Goodnight" (4:14)
  9. "Don't Let Me Down & Down" (4:55)
  10. "Looking for Lester" (5:36)
  11. "I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday" (4:14)
  12. "The Wedding Song" (4:29)


"Putting on the black tie, cranking out the white tropes":

  • Book-Ends: "The Wedding" and "The Wedding Song" are variations of one another, and respectively serve as the first and final tracks on the album.
  • Call-Back: "You've Been Around" contains the lyric "You've ch-ch-ch-changed me," a clear reference to "Changes" from Hunky Dory.
  • Cover Version: Four such songs fall into this category:
  • Driven to Suicide: The protagonist of the song and video "Jump They Say".
  • Epic Rocking: "The Wedding" and "Looking for Lester" are both over five minutes.
  • Face on the Cover: The album cover just a close-up of his face.
  • Instrumental: "The Wedding" and "Looking For Lester".
  • Lighter and Softer: In comparison to both Never Let Me Down and the two Tin Machine studio albums, Black Tie White Noise is poppier and less dour in its subject matter (partly due to Bowie coming fresh off the heels of his wedding with Iman, partly due to being produced by Nile Rodgers, who had previously produced Let's Dance). That said, the Title Track and "Jump They Say" still demonstrate Bowie's willingness to cover less-than-optimistic topics in his work.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "Pallas Athena".
  • One Steve Limit: Averted; one of the musicians on the album is Lester Bowie, who is unrelated to David Bowie.
  • Other Common Music Video Concepts:
    • The Making Of The Video/Monochrome Backdrop : Although not an official music video, "Nite Flights" has Bowie being filmed in front of a blue screen with multiple spotlights being shone on him.
  • Refrain from Assuming: Invoked with "Jump They Say" - the way it is sung in the chorus makes it sound like "They Say Jump".
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The title track is less than subtle about the fact that it was inspired by the 1992 Los Angeles race riots.
  • Sexy Sax Man
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: In all the music videos from this era.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Title Track includes the phrase "what's going on?" as an allusion to the Marvin Gaye album of the same name, thanks to both the Bowie song and the Gaye album featuring social commentary on race relations.
    • The experiments conducted on his character in "Jump They Say" are based on those conducted on the protagonist of the French sci-fi short La Jetée. (The Criterion Collection's DVD of the short includes an excerpt from a French TV program about this video and its homage.)
  • The Something Song: "The Wedding Song"
  • Surreal Music Video: "Jump They Say" and "Miracle Goodnight".
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: Al B. Sure! in "Black Tie White Noise"


Example of: