Big Brother (David Bowie song)

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"Big Brother"
Song by David Bowie
from the album Diamond Dogs
Released24 May 1974[1]
RecordedOlympic Studios, London
January–February 1974
Songwriter(s)David Bowie
Producer(s)David Bowie

"Big Brother" is a song written by David Bowie in 1973 and intended for his never-produced musical based on George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. In 1974 it was released on the album Diamond Dogs. It segued into the final track on the record, "Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family".

Lyrically, the song reflects the ending of Nineteen Eighty-Four, where Winston Smith's brainwashing is complete, and he loves Big Brother. This was described by Bowie biographer David Buckley as "a frightening paean to the Super God",[2] while Nicholas Pegg considered that Bowie was showing how "the glamour of dictatorships is balanced with the banality".[3]

The opening trumpet line, played on a Chamberlin, has been compared to Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain.[4] The melody in the chorus was echoed in Bowie's own "Shining Star (Makin' My Love)" from Never Let Me Down (1987).[3]

Live versions[edit]

  • A live version (which included "Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family") from the first leg of the Diamond Dogs Tour was released on David Live. A live recording from the second leg of the same tour was released in 2017 on Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles '74).
  • A live version of the song appears on the two-CD concert released on the Special Edition of Glass Spider (2007).

Other releases[edit]

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ "Diamond Dogs album is forty today". Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  2. ^ David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story: p.214
  3. ^ a b Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: pp.38-39
  4. ^ Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.64

External links[edit]