Someone Else Inside Me
Silhouettes And Shadows
Spaceboy, your silhouette is so stationary.
Take a turn and see his smile
Made of nothing but loneliness
Just take a walk and be a friend to the Shadow Man
You can call him Joe, you can call him Sam
You can call him foe, you can call him friend
You should call and see who answers
For he promises to come running, guided by the truth
But the Shadow Man is really you
Look into his eyes and see your reflection
David Bowie is the master of the double-hearted, the double-tongued and the double-faced. His doppelgangers, strategic shadow-selves accompany him everywhere. Equivocal and ambiguous doppelgangers at that.
Are the shadow-selves that appear in his songs ruled by guile, lying, or untruth or do Bowie's doubles simply unveil the two or more meanings lurking within his many-sided riddles?
'Janine' reveals to us how important the mask really is to David. His secrets must be kept hidden. Bowie suggests that to peek behind his veil is to see beyond mortal ken, beyond the grave. There are things there that are hidden from mortal vision and for very good reasons. Bowie admonishes: "Janine, Janine, you'd like to crash my walls but if you take an axe to me you'll kill another man not me at all. I've no defence; I've got to keep my veil on my face."
'The Width Of A Circle' unveils the being within. We journey into the supreme mystery and discover the monster. A self-revelation. Bowie throws off the mask but doesn't bother to scream: "Then I ran across a monster who was sleeping by a tree, and I looked and frowned and the monster was me."
The trickster shows his face in 'Changes.' The liar and the faker emerge from the shadows: "So I turned myself to face me but I've never caught a glimpse of how the others must see the faker. I'm much too fast to take that test."
In 'Jump They Say' the double-minded protagonist has two gods. He's got to believe somebody. Which one will it be?
The main character in the song 'Buddha Of Suburbia' is "living in lies by the railway line and can't tell the bullshit from the lies." In the song 'Telling Lies' Bowie again acknowledges how speedy an escapist he really is: "Me I'm fast like a bad infection gasping for my resurrection. The shadow falls in shrinking smiles."
Bowie croons "Let the lies go" in 'Somebody Up There Likes Me.' David shows his hand: "He's everybody's token, on everybody's wall blessing all the papers, thanking one and all, hugging all the babies, kissing all the ladies, knowing all that you think about from writing on the wall." The protagonist of 'Somebody Up There Likes Me' is a double dealer and a conjurer. Nothing escapes his eyes; nothing escapes his ears. The ever present shadow man is a symbol for the everyman. He sees it all like a divine presence coming to light.
The song 'Baby Can Dance' also reveals the shadow man: "I'm the shadow man the jumping jack, the man who can and don't look back."
On the first "Tin Machine" album in the song 'Heaven's In Here' Bowie confesses: "I'm taking a swing at this shadow of mine." Perhaps he doesn't care which shadow gets him.
Someone else's shadow peeps out in 'I Have Not Been To Oxford Town.' Bowie reveals the secrets of the prison house: "This is your shadow on my wall." The soul or shadow of another haunts his prison walls.
In 'Move On' he is "feeling like a shadow, drifting like a leaf and stumbling like a blind man." Perhaps some dark force lies in ambush waiting.
We are introduced to the Shallow Man not the Shadow Man in 'The Dreamers.' But the Shallow Man speaks to the shadows.
In 'The Motel' Bowie sings: "We're swimming in a sea of sham, living in the shadow of vanity. It's a kind of living which recognises the death of the odourless man. Perhaps the protagonist is incognito, not quite ready to disburden his conscience. Not quite ready to manifest in the flesh.
Bowie's shadows often take flight. They slip away when your shoes and doors are unlocked. They recede from vision in the growing darkness. Evasion is the shadow man's forte. He throws dust into your eyes - stardust and moondust. In the twilight he renders the visible invisible. The legendary curtains are drawn round this bankrupt baby. The unmentionable and the irrevealable lurk behind those curtains. If you should catch a glimpse, don't tell a soul!
14th February 2003.
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