David Bowie – Beauty and the Beast (1977)

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“Beauty and the Beast” is a song by David Bowie, the first track on his 1977 album “Heroes”. It was issued as the second single from the album in January 1978, becoming a minor UK hit, peaking at No. 39 on the UK Singles Chart.

The opening music, a disjointed combination of piano, guitar, electronics and voice rising steadily to a crescendo, has been described as sounding like “Bowie is about to turn into The Incredible Hulk before your very ears”. The song proper features Robert Fripp on lead guitar, with treatments and synthesizer work by Brian Eno. Fripp has stated that his guitar work on the track is a first take made straight upon arrival at the studio.

The lyrics have been interpreted as a look back at Bowie’s severe mood swings during his cocaine addiction while living in Los Angeles from 1975 to 1976, with the line “Thank God Heaven left us standing on our feet” suggesting the singer’s gratitude for making it through that period. The phrase “someone fetch a priest” alludes not to a desire for religious succour but to co-producer Tony Visconti’s frequent expletive during the recording sessions for “Heroes”, “someone fuck a priest”.

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