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Music / Heathen

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"And nothing has changed, and everything has changed "

Heathen is the twenty-third studio album by David Bowie, released in 2002. The album reunites Bowie with longtime collaborator Tony Visconti for their first album since 1980's Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps). Visconti would go on to produce all of Bowie's subsequent albums up until his death.

Initially, Bowie had planned on releasing an album called Toy, which consisted mostly of re-recordings of his pre-Space Oddity material. However, the plan to release the album didn't come to fruition and the sessions led into the recording of Heathen instead. Although claimed that all songs written on the album occurred before the attacks of September 11 2001, it is widely agreed the events had an influence on the album.

Of his post-Let's Dance output. Heathen is generally associated with Outside, The Next Day and Blackstar as his best albums, selling over two million copies. Heathen also marked Bowie's commercial comeback in the US; peaking at 14 on the Billboard charts, it was his highest-selling album in the country since Tonight in 1984. The singles from this album are "Slow Burn", "Everyone Says 'Hi'" and "I've Been Waiting for You".



  1. "Sunday" (4:45)
  2. "Cactus" (2:55)
  3. "Slip Away" (6:05)
  4. "Slow Burn" (4:41)
  5. "Afraid" (3:28)
  6. "I've Been Waiting for You" (3:00)
  7. "I Would Be Your Slave" (5:14)
  8. "I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship" (4:04)
  9. "5:15 The Angels Have Gone" (5:00)
  10. "Everyone Says 'Hi'" (3:59)
  11. "A Better Future" (4:11)
  12. "Heathen (The Rays)" (4:16)

"Like a slow trope, leading us on and on and on..."

  • Album Title Drop: Averted with "Heathen (The Rays)".
  • Basso Profundo: Bowie reaches the lowest point of his voice register, a G1, in "I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship".
  • Concept Album: Generally believed to be one by fans and analysts. A recurring theme on the album is the decay of human society; among others, topics covered on Heathen include an imprisoned man spiraling into psychotic obsession, overly-nostalgic people retreating from the world around them in fear of modernity, a man mourning a failed relationship, and a boy processing the news of his father's death.
  • Cover Version: Three of them pop up in this album:
    • "Cactus" (The Pixies)
    • "I've Been Waiting for You" (Neil Young)
    • "I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship" (The Legendary Stardust Cowboy)
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to 'hours...', Heathen is much more dour in both lyrical and musical tone, widely believed to stem from the emotions felt worldwide following 9/11.
  • Disappeared Dad: "Everyone Says 'Hi'" is about a boy struggling to accept that his father had passed away, thinking his father was this instead; according to Bowie, the song was inspired by his mother's passing in 2001.
    "Said you took a big trip. They said you moved away
    Happened oh, so quietly. They say"
  • Epic Rocking: The 6 minute "Slip Away".
  • Nostalgia Filter: The primary theme of "Slip Away"
    "Down in space, it's always 1982."
  • Not Christian Album
  • Rearrange the Song: "Slip Away" (formerly "Uncle Floyd") and "Afraid" were initially going to be released on the aforementioned Toy album; they were both re-recorded for Heathen. While the two versions of each song sound fairly similar enough to one-another, "Slip Away" removes "Uncle Floyd"'s lengthy intro consisting of sampled audio from The Uncle Floyd Show, presumably due to copyright issues.
  • Religion Rant Song: "A Better Future" is a Type 1.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: The album cover portrays him as this - although the Monochromatic Eyes do put him into Uncanny Valley territory.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Yes, Ziggy Stardust was named in tribute to The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, who Bowie covered with "I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship".
    • Coney Island is name-dropped in "Slip Away", itself a tribute to The Uncle Floyd Show (an American variety show that ran from 1974 to 1998 and was surprisingly popular among rock musicians).
    • "I Would Be Your Slave" does this for Labyrinth
    Jareth:"I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave."
    • Carrying over from the Pixies' version, the D-A-V-I-D chant in the bridge of "Cactus" is a shout-out to a similar technique used by T. Rex (who Bowie had previously name-dropped in "All the Young Dudes", the song Bowie wrote for Mott the Hoople).
  • Spelling Song: In "Cactus" , the P-I-X-I-E-S chant in the bridge is changed to D-A-V-I-D.
  • Title Drop: Subverted with "I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship" - the lyric in the song is "I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spacecraft"
  • Title Track: "Heathen (The Rays)".


Example of: