Word on a Wing
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|"Word on a Wing"|
|Song by David Bowie|
|from the album Station to Station|
|Released||January 23, 1976|
|Recorded||Cherokee Studios, Hollywood, September–November 1975|
|Producer(s)||David Bowie, Harry Maslin|
Bowie admits that the song was written out of a coke-addled spiritual despair that he experienced while filming the movie The Man Who Fell To Earth. In 1980 Bowie spoke of the song to NME, claiming "There were days of such psychological terror when making the Roeg film that I nearly started to approach my reborn, born again thing. It was the first time I'd really seriously thought about Christ and God in any depth, and 'Word on a Wing' was a protection. It did come as a complete revolt against elements that I found in the film. The passion in the song was genuine... something I needed to produce from within myself to safeguard myself against some of the situations I felt were happening on the film set."
During the time of recording this song Bowie began to wear a silver crucifix, which he continued to wear. Despite the lyrics claiming that he is 'trying hard to fit among your scheme of things' Bowie seems to be suspicious of having blind faith with regards to religion, exclaiming 'just because I believe don't mean I don't think as well, don't have to question everything in heaven or hell'. This suspicion seems to contradict the sentiment Bowie had while recording Golden Years, where is exclaimed 'I believe all the way'. Bowie later admitted that "there was a point when I very nearly got suckered into that narrow sort of looking... finding the cross as the salvation of mankind around the Roeg period".
- A live version recorded at Nassau Coliseum, Long Island on March 23, 1976 was first released as a bonus track on the 1991 Rykodisc CD release of Station to Station. The same performance was included on the album Live Nassau Coliseum '76, which was released as part of the 2010 reissues of the Station to Station album, in the 2016 collection Who Can I Be Now? (1974–1976), and as a stand–alone album in 2017.
- After regular appearances on the Isolar – 1976 Tour, "Word on a Wing" remained under wraps for over twenty years. The song was revived in 1999 for the VH1 Storytellers TV musical documentary series, when Bowie reaffirmed that the song was a product of "the darkest days of my life... I'm sure it was a call for help," noting that he spent much of 1975-76 pondering such questions as, "Do the dead interest themselves in the affairs of the living?" and "Can I change the channel on my T.V. without using the clicker?"
- David Bowie: Lead Vocals, Mellotron
- Warren Peace: Percussion, Backing Vocals
- Roy Bittan: Piano, Organ
- Earl Slick: Lead Guitar
- George Murray: Bass Guitar
- Carlos Alomar: Rhythm Guitar
- Dennis Davis: Drums
- Harry Maslin: Synthesizers, Vibraphone
- An edit of the song was released as the B-side of the single "Stay" in July 1976. The single version is included on Re:Call 2, part of the Who Can I Be Now? (1974–1976) compilation released in 2016.