After All (David Bowie song)

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"After All"
Song by David Bowie from the album The Man Who Sold the World
Released November 4, 1970 (United States)
April 1971 (UK)
Recorded Trident and Advision Studios, London
18 April - 22 May 1970
Genre Psychedelic folk, psychedelic rock
Length 3:52
Label Mercury Records
Writer David Bowie
Producer Tony Visconti
The Man Who Sold the World track listing
"Black Country Rock"
(3)
"After All"
(4)
"Running Gun Blues"
(5)

"After All" is a song written by David Bowie in 1970 for the album The Man Who Sold the World, released later that year in the United States and in April 1971 in the UK. One of a number of Bowie songs from the early 1970s reflecting the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche and Aleister Crowley, it has been described by biographer David Buckley as "the album's hidden gem",[1] and by Nicholas Pegg as "one of Bowie's most underrated recordings".[2]

Music and lyrics[edit]

The song has been interpreted as taking to nightmarish conclusions the children's world of Bowie's early song "There Is a Happy Land", from his 1967 debut David Bowie.[2][3] Like much of The Man Who Sold the World, its lyrics are imbued with a Nietzschian Übermensch philosophy ("Man is an obstacle, sad as the clown").[3] The line "Live til your rebirth and do what you will" is often cited as homage to occultist Aleister Crowley and his dictum, "Do what thou wilt".[1][2] "Rebirth" alludes to eternal return, a concept of the antiquity resurrected by Nietzsche.[citation needed]

The track is unusual in a rock context for being in waltz time, most obviously in the surreal circus-like instrumental break. Its style was inspired by the "slightly sinister, measured melancholy" of songs Bowie recalled from childhood such as Danny Kaye's "Inchworm".[1] Regarding the music's arrangement, producer Tony Visconti said, "The basic song and the 'oh by jingo' line were David's ideas. The rest was Ronno and me vying for the next overdub."[2]

The line "We're just older children" (variations of which appear throughout the song) is highly reminiscent of a line in the fourth stanza of the opening poem of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There: "We are but older children, dear"."Wikisource link to Preface". Wikisource link to Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. Wikisource.

Legacy[edit]

As with "All the Madmen" from the same album, the gothic atmosphere of "After All" has been cited as a significant influence on such bands as Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure and Bauhaus.[1]

Cover versions[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story: pp.99-102
  2. ^ a b c d Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: p.19
  3. ^ a b Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.38

External links[edit]