David Bowie's Lodger: 30th Anniversary

Third album in the renowned 'Berlin Trilogy'
David Bowie, 'Lodger'

The Quietus celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of David Bowie's Lodger, the third album of the so-called Berlin trilogy (Low, "Heroes", Lodger). Ben Graham elaborates on the significance of Lodger to Bowie's career, and recaps some of the key details of the musician's creative relationship with Brian Eno.

There's also an interesting exploration of Bowie's influences at the time the album was recorded, from the high-strung intellectualism of Talking Heads and the motorik beat of Neu!, to the European paranoia of Polanski's The Tenant.

But in essence, Graham aims to establish once and for all the role that Lodger plays within Bowie's Berlin trilogy. On the one hand, he argues, there are characteristics that hold it in place alongside Low and "Heroes", but the release of Lodger inevitably marks a kind of irreconcilable departure (thank you to 'Z' for drawing my attention to this article):
[...] And responsibility, in the end, is the real theme of Lodger: taking us back to the opening track’s worries over the fate of the entire planet resting in the hands of one flawed, capricious human being, through to ‘Repetition’s’ description of how we pass on our pain to those closest to us, full of self-pitying victimhood yet unaware we’ve become the aggressor. From the crippling banality of ‘DJ’- a man with the ears of millions of believers, yet nothing to say- to the cocooned self-absorption of ‘Boys Keep Swinging,’ and the damp squib of a judgement day portrayed in ‘Look Back in Anger.’ The last words on the album are “Such responsibility- it’s up to you and me.”

It’s this sense of responsibility - both individual and collective - that finally separates Lodger from the so-called Berlin albums. Low was, in Bowie’s own words, “Isn’t it great to be on your own, let’s just pull down the blinds and fuck em all”, a celebration of self-pity. “Heroes” saw the individual begin to fight back, but still from a passive-aggressive, me-against-the-world standpoint. It’s only with Lodger that Bowie realises that to survive in any meaningful sense, he has to engage with society, and with the rest of the human race. [Read More]

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