David Bowie - Move On (1979)
The third and final installment of the Berlin Trilogy is 1979’s Lodger, which was a continuation of the significant themes of the first two albums, such as the experimental processes, range of influences, and collaboration with Brian Eno. However, the album departs from the previous albums in its lack of instrumental pieces and the incorporation of many different musical styles from around the world. “African Night Flight” was inspired by a trip to Kenya, while “Yassassin” was of Turkish influence. While Lodger is not held in as high regard as the first two Berlin albums, it is still a fantastic album with many interesting themes and further developments on Bowie’s work.
I have mentioned throughout this week a certain restlessness of spirit in Bowie, which drove much of his artistic and personal changes over the decade. If there were ever a song by Bowie to truly encompass this concept, it would be “Move On.” The song is not one of the album’s specific engagements with another musical style outside of Western pop, but it is directly about Bowie’s sense of wanderlust. Bowie fully explores the depths of his vocal range as he croons “Somewhere there’s a morning sky, bluer than her eyes / Somewhere there’s an ocean, innocent and wild.” They are beautiful, romantic lyrics, far removed from the numb simplicity of Low. Though the three albums Low, “Heroes,” and Lodger are all grouped together, there is still variation between them, each acting as a different approach to the same mission of collaboration and experimentation.
While the songs on Lodger are often more accessible than the previous two Berlin albums, there was still experimentation in process employed by Bowie and Eno. The creation of “Move On” explores the idea of recycling and re-appropriating one’s own work. Under the song’s constant, shuddering sense of propulsion is a fragment of an old Bowie glam classic “All the Young Dudes,” reversed and repurposed. Bowie had long been knowingly borrowing and referencing other’s work in his own, but this is one of the first times he would directly engage with his own past. The confrontation of his past selves is now a hallmark of Bowie’s career, most recently used by Bowie in 2013’s The Next Day. In the context of “Move On,” however, the recycling of an old song into a new song about Bowie’s own restlessness reflects his need to not only move on from location to location, but also to pursue newness and difference in his own artistic output.