Sunday, January 17, 2016

David Bowie | "God Knows I'm Good"

One topic that pops up from time to time in Bowie's catalog is that of God.

While he tended to talk about Zen Buddhism - he does mention pondering Christianity and the presence of God and Heaven.

He certainly had a sense of the reality of evil - something that struck him profoundly while filming "The Man Who Fell to Earth" whose director Nicholas Roeg was an actual warlock--who like filmmaker Kenneth Anger created films as celluloid spells.

In one interview David speaks of a freak incident on the set (no details) that drove him to wear a cross around his neck for the rest of his life.

While notions of God and Heaven come up in songs including his life closing poem "Lazarus."

There is a particularly haunting tune early in his catalog titled "God Knows I'm Good" off of Space Oddity:

I was walking through the counters of a national concern
And a cash machine was spitting by my shoulder
And I saw the multitude of faces, honest, rich and clean
As the merchandise exchanged and money roared
And a woman hot with worry slyly slipped a tin of stewing steak
Into the paper bag at her side
And her face was white with fear in case her actions were observed
So she closed her eyes to keep her conscience blind

"God knows I'm good
God knows I'm good
God knows I'm good
God may look the other way today

Then she moved toward the exit clutching tightly at her paper bag
Perspiration trickled down her forehead
And her heart it leapt inside her as the hand laid on her shoulder
She was led away bewildered and amazed
Through her deafened ears the cash machines were shrieking on the counter
As her escort asked her softly
for her name
And a crowd of honest people rushed to help a tired old lady
Who had fainted to the whirling
wooden floor

God knows I'm good
God knows I'm good
God knows I'm good
Surely God won't look
the other way


While the main character in this song is an old woman on welfare. There is something that cries affinity with the author.

Bowie was doing and saying many things in public that could have been perceived as perverse or evil (particularly among righteous right wingers).

What on the surface may have looked like sin (cross dressing; proclaiming he was fay) was also a way to message into the hearts of the outcasts and give them some hope in a time when the mainstream did not want to embrace their lifestyle.

What would Jesus have done? He would have loved the one's that society was ready to stone. And because of that Bowie had a right to sing and proclaim. "You may see me as an oddity. But God knows I'm good."

There is plenty of irony here that still plays well today.