David Bowie surprised his fans with a new single on his 66th birthday entitled, “Where Are We Now,” which coincides with an album called, “The Next Day,” to be released in March 2013.
A rumor about Bowie’s health was spawned by a six-year absence, and he has rarely been seen in the public since 2006, when he last performed.
The new track single was recorded in New York and produced by the singer’s long-time collaborator Tony Visconti.
The track’s appearance online was “a genuine surprise”, said John Wilson, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row. “He’s a proper artist. He doesn’t release records because it’s time for another record. He releases records when there’s something for him to say.”
“Where Are We Now” is a simple, unfussy ballad - Bowie singing mournfully over a piano motif that slowly builds to an understated coda.
The song includes several references to the city of Berlin, where Bowie and Visconti produced a critically-acclaimed trilogy of albums - Low, Heroes and Lodger - in the 1970s.
“If you listen to each of the verses, there are lyrical references to Berlin, to Potsdamer Platz, to Nuremberg Strasse,” said Wilson. “Places where he lived when he was making those albums. And there is an elegiac quality. There’s a sadness, I think. A weariness to his voice.”
The artwork for the new album, which has surfaced on iTunes, is an altered version of the cover to Heroes, suggesting a further connection to the Berlin Trilogy.
Bowie is reportedly living in New York City with his wife and daughter. The singer has not released any new material in nearly a decade.