David Bowie today broke years of silence to release a surprise single on his 66th birthday and announce his first studio album in a decade.
The song, “Where Are We Now,” was mentioned in a Twitter post and put on the front page of the singer’s website. It can be downloaded from iTunes.
It will be followed by “The Next Day” album, which comes out in March. It will be his first studio collection of new material since “Reality” in 2003.
The star came to fame with songs such as “Space Oddity,” “Starman” and “Life on Mars.” His No. 1 hits include “Fame” and “Let’s Dance.”
He has not sung live for some years. Bowie suffered chest pain while performing in Germany in 2004 and later said it was a minor heart attack.
The new song and album is produced by Tony Visconti, Bowie’s New York neighbor and long-time collaborator.
The single returns to Bowie’s time in Berlin, where he made some of his finest music in the 1970s. He lists some of his favorite places with the melancholy repeated line “just walking the dead.”
The song’s video, directed by Tony Oursler, has a puppet with Bowie’s face on top. He looks older and sad, almost fighting back tears at one point.
Fans took to Twitter to praise the new single and express the hope that Bowie may follow it with a tour. His last live performances were in 2006, when he joined David Gilmour at London’s Royal Albert Hall and followed that with a charity show in New York.
After that he curated the 2007 High Line Festival, worked with Tom Waits and released “A Reality Tour,” a CD of the 2003 shows. Still, he has rarely been seen in public and his spokesman has denied reports of further ill-health.
Bowie has also released “Live Santa Monica ’72” and box sets of some of his best albums such as “Station to Station” and “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.”
Bowie has been living in semi-retirement with his wife, Iman, and daughter, Alexandria. He turned down Danny Boyle’s request to headline the Olympic opening ceremony last year. He also denied that he was involved in curating an exhibition devoted to him that opens at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum on March 23.
The album is out March 8 in Australia, March 12 in the U.S. and March 11 for the rest of the world.
(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
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