The Bewlay Brothers

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"The Bewlay Brothers"
Song by David Bowie from the album Hunky Dory
Released 17 December 1971
30 January 1990 (Rykodisc Reissue)
Recorded Trident Studios, London, 30 July 1971
Genre Folk rock, psychedelic folk
Length 5:27
Label RCA
Writer David Bowie
Producer Ken Scott, David Bowie
Hunky Dory track listing
"Queen Bitch"
"The Bewlay Brothers"
30 second sample from David Bowie's "The Bewlay Brothers".

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"The Bewlay Brothers" is a song written by David Bowie in 1971 for the album Hunky Dory. One of the last tracks to be written and recorded for the LP, the ballad has been described as "probably Bowie's densest and most impenetrable song".[1] Bowie himself supposedly told producer Ken Scott that it was a track for the American market, because "the Americans always like to read things into things", even though the lyrics "make absolutely no sense".[2] Reflecting on the song in 2008, Bowie wrote "I wouldn't know how to interpret the lyric of this song other than suggesting that there are layers of ghosts within it. It's a palimpsest, then."[3]

Bowie named his publishing company in the late 1970s Bewlay Bros. Music and used the name as a pseudonym for himself, Iggy Pop and Colin Thurston as producers of Pop's 1977 album Lust for Life.

The song was performed live for the first time on BBC Radio 2 in 2002.


Some commentators have also seen references in the song to Bowie's half-brother Terry, who suffered from schizophrenia, while others such as Tom Robinson have discerned a "gay agenda".[4] The coda features Bowie's voice distorted by varispeeding; NME critics Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray likened the effect to the Laughing Gnome, but "in considerably more sinister guise".[1]

Other releases[edit]

  • It appeared in the Sound and Vision box set in 1989.
  • An alternative mix was released as a bonus track on the Rykodisc CD release of Hunky Dory in 1990.
  • It was included in a self-selected compilation of favourite tracks titled ISELECT in 2008.

Cover versions[edit]



  1. ^ a b Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.41
  2. ^ David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story: pp.114-115
  3. ^ David Bowie (2008). "DAVID BOWIE: I went to buy some shoes - and I came back with Life On Mars", The Daily Mail, 28 June 2008. Retrieved on 11 July 2008.
  4. ^ Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: p.37
  5. ^