The Width of a Circle

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"The Width of a Circle"
Song by David Bowie
from the album The Man Who Sold the World
ReleasedNovember 4, 1970 (United States)
April 1971 (UK)
RecordedTrident and Advision Studios, London
18 April – 22 May 1970
GenreHard rock, heavy metal, progressive rock, psychedelic rock
LabelMercury Records
Songwriter(s)David Bowie
Producer(s)Tony Visconti

"The Width of a Circle" is a song written by David Bowie in 1969 for the album The Man Who Sold the World, recorded in Spring 1970 and released later that year in the United States and in April 1971 in the UK. It is the opening track to the album, a hard rocker with heavy metal overtones. Bowie had performed a shorter version of the song in concerts for several months before recording it.

Featuring Mick Ronson's lead guitar work and occasional choral effects from the band, this 8-minute song is divided into two parts. The music takes on a heavy R&B quality in the second half, where the narrator enjoys a sexual encounter – with God, the Devil or some other supernatural being, according to different interpretations – in the depths of Hell.[1][2][3]

Some sources claim that the song was released as a single by RCA in Eastern Europe, with "Cygnet Committee" from Bowie's 1969 album Space Oddity on the B-side. However, this 'Russian' single was pressed by a fan and therefore is unofficial.

Live versions[edit]

Several live versions of the song have been released:

Other releases[edit]

The song appeared on the Japanese compilation The Best of David Bowie in 1974.

Cover versions[edit]



  1. ^ David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination — David Bowie: The Definitive Story: p.101
  2. ^ Martin Aston (2007). "Scary Monster", MOJO 60 Years of Bowie: pp.24-25
  3. ^ Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.38
  4. ^ Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: pp.238-239


  • Pegg, Nicholas, The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-14-5

External links[edit]