The producer behind David Bowie’s first album in a decade said he was surprised by the glam godfather’s choice of the reflective and melancholy “Where are we now?” for its first single.
The track was released yesterday, on Bowie's birthday, and shot to the top of the iTunes singles chart within hours, and is currently placed number two.
Speaking to the BBC Tony Visconti, who has worked with Bowie many times over the last 40 years, said the pair had spent two years working on the new album, The Next Day, which is out in March.
“I think [“Where are we now?”] is a very reflective track for David. He certainly is looking back on his Berlin period and it evokes this feeling that he has – its very melancholy – it really is the only track on the album that goes this much inward for him,” Visctonti said.
“It’s quite a rock album for him, the rest of the songs.”
The producer quashed rumours of ill health which have plagued Bowie since he largely disappeared from public view following a heart attack at the Hurricane festival in Scheessel, Germany, in 2004. He collapsed just minutes after performing an encore of “Ziggy Stardust”.
But a day after his 66th birthda, Visconti described the singer as “very healthy…rosy cheeked…he smiles a lot,” adding: “I worked with a very happy David Bowie in the studio”.
Visconti said he initially wondered why Bowie didn’t introduce his new material “with a bang”, deciding instead to relase “this very slow, albeit beautiful, ballad” “Where are we now?”.
“David is a master of his own life and, actually, I think this is a very wise move: to link up his past with his future. The next thing you hear from him is going to be quite different.”
Visconti said the album was recorded intermittently via two-to-three week studio sessions followed by another two or three months off.
“We usually work on one or two songs in an afternoon. And we whip them up to shape where they sound like great rock tracks – and at that point there wouldn’t be any final vocals or lyrics. This is actually the same way I’ve been working with [David] since The Man Who Sold The World. He hasn’t really changed in his approach.”