by Jason Mallory and Chris Ledford, for the Song Missing event Space Camp Oddity
On the surface, “Heroes” is undoubtedly a beautiful song. That’s important to note, because since its release it’s been bastardized by our culture through cornball NFL promos and a horrendous cover by the horrendous son of Bob Dylan for the horrendous remake of Godzilla. But, when one listens with fresh ears, one can’t help but feel inspired by Robert Fripp’s feedback drenched guitar riff and Bowie’s lyrics about getting drunk and being a dolphin.
Here’s a little background: “Heroes” came out in 1977, a strange era in Bowie’s career, a time when he was recovering from severe cocaine addiction, burned out on guitar-driven glam-rock, and being accused by the british media of being a closet Nazi—accusations he deflected by moving to Berlin, writing songs about the V-2 rocket, and referring to himself as the “Ubermensch” in interviews.
While in Berlin, Bowie was inspired to write “Heroes” after watching his producer Tony Visconti kiss his mistress in front of the Berlin Wall. That’s right, the heroes that Bowie is referring to in the song are an adulterer and his side-piece making out in front of a symbol of oppression and division like a couple of teenagers at a county fair.
Remember, next time you’re at a baseball game and they honor the troops by showing uniformed veterans on the Jumbotron while playing the song “Heroes,” that in Bowie’s eyes, these brave men and women who put themselves in harm’s way for our freedom our in the same league as people with Ashley Madison accounts.
I guess this explains why every time David Bowie sees Tiger Woods, he salutes! It also explains why all 67 million hacked Ashley Madison accounts turned out to be registered under David Bowie’s gmail address. That’s right—the accounts for the men AND the women. David Bowie is an androgynous rock god, Chris! He doesn’t have to play by Ashley Madison’s rules! Now you know why every Ashley Madison profile includes the acronym TWDDTF (that’s Thin White Duke Down To Fuck)!
So far, Bowie has managed to cheat with over 67 million adulterous Americans, or “heroes” as he likes to call them. We’re going to need a bigger Jumbotron, Chris! We’re going to need a bigger kiss-cam, at the very least! Come to think of it, maybe Tony Visconti and his mistress just saw themselves on the famous Berlin Wall “Kiss Cam” and didn’t want to disappoint the crowd.
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall—so I can get a better look at David Bowie’s producer fingerbanging his side piece!
You know Chris, my first introduction to “Heroes” was not by way of the original David Bowie version, but the cover done by the Wallflowers for the soundtrack to the 1998 film Godzilla.
I heard that David Bowie would only give his blessing if a scene was included in which Godzilla cheats on his wife. Producers responded that Godzilla was single and a “confirmed bachelor” so they compromised by having a lady in a Godzilla mask come to David Bowie’s house and peg Mick Jagger beside a replica of the Berlin Wall. And that’s been a Christmas tradition in the Bowie house ever since, Chris!!
Out of all of your bizarre claims, Jason, I’m most fascinated by the one about how you were introduced to this song via the Wallflowers cover featured in 1998’s Godzilla. Were you also introduced to the Led Zeppelin song “Kashmir” through Jimmy Page and Puff Daddy’s ill-conceived collaboration featured on the same soundtrack? Perhaps you’d never heard the Who’s famous ballad “Behind Blue Eyes” until Fred Durst reworked it for the movie Gothika.
Come to think of it, it’s become a staple of bad action movie soundtracks to include a mediocre cover of a classic song performed by a contemporary alternative rock band. Upon doing some research, here are some especially awful examples I discovered:
- There was Hot Topic darlings My Chemical Romance’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row” for the movie Watchmen. To be fair, that was only the second worst use of a classic song in that movie (see the infamous “Hallelujah” sex in a flame-throwing spaceship scene).
- A bizarre goth-rock/industrial techno cover of “Burning Down the House” by the Used that was apparently featured in Transformers: Rise of the Fallen.
- And, best of all, a menacing, bass-heavy remake of “Stand by Me” was featured in the trailer for Brick Mansions, Paul Walker’s posthumous-parkour-police-powerhouse (or at least that’s how I would’ve described it if I was asked to make a blurb for the DVD cover)
I can imagine that Michael Bay is sitting in an editing room at this very moment looking to put the finishing touches on his new bloated-budget, braindead blockbuster, Dick Smasher,(1) starring Nicholas Cage and Megan Fox, and saying to himself, “Massive explosions? Check. Sick ass cars? Check. Gigantic cast of B-level actors with no chemistry? Check. Hmmmm, what’s missing? I know, let’s get Imagine Dragons to cover ‘Purple Haze’! That’ll blow everyone’s minds!”
Chris, here’s a bit of trivia you may not know about “Heroes”—not only does it feature Brian Eno’s synthesizer and Robert Fripp’s guitar, but it also includes the sounds of producer Tony Visconti banging on a metal ashtray that was lying around the studio.
Also banged while lying around the studio: Tony Visconti’s mistress. Apparently Tony Visconti’s nickname for the butthole is “the metal ashtray.”
Incidentally, banging on a metal ashtray is Michael Bay’s entire scriptwriting process. Then the guys who did all the CGI for Rise of the Planet of the Apes come in and translate Michael Bay’s hoots and clangs. They have a whole system worked out—bang the ashtray twice for explode, hoot once for Megan Fox, throw your poop for Imagine Dragons.
But we’re not here to talk about who calls buttholes what or who throws poop at which dragons. That’s for Andy Serkis in a motion capture suit to figure out. We’re here to talk about the David Bowie song “Heroes.”
You know, Chris—Brian Eno once said of “Heroes,” “It’s a beautiful song. But incredibly melancholy at the same time. We can be heroes, but actually we know that something’s missing, something’s lost.”
And after performing Heroes at the Berlin Wall in 1987, David Bowie himself said, “Well, if I never do anything again, it won’t matter.” It was the pinnacle of achievement for him.
And I’d just like to add that if you’re a lady who is NTTWDPTBSEOAMBSDTF (Not The Thin White Duke Pretending To Be Someone Else On Ashley Madison But Still Down To Fuck), I want you to know I’ve got a big hot cigarette to put in your metal ashtray! Does this make me a hero, Chris? According to my girlfriend, no. But David Bowie says I should get the congressional Medal of Honor, and who would you rather have putting a medallion around your neck like Luke Skywalker at the end of Star Wars? Luke Skywalker was the ultimate hero because he kissed his sister, and that’s like cheating on your own DNA!
Which is why every time David Bowie sees Star Wars, he salutes. Anyway, Chris—I guess what I’m trying to say is if you’re going to cheat, cheat for the stars! Find the closest thing to the Berlin Wall in your hometown and hope David Bowie wanders by and also wants to write a second song celebrating infidelity. Maybe yell “Hey, David Bowie! Look over here!” while you’re making love to your mistress? “This would make a pretty good song, right??”
And David Bowie will smile and reply, “Oh-oh-oh-ohh, oh-oh-oh-ohh, just for one day!”
(1) Might as well be – Ed.