Big Brother

Album: Diamond Dogs (1974)

Songfacts®:

  • The character Big Brother was invented by the author, journalist and critic George Orwell (1903-50). Orwell was his pen name; he was born Eric Arthur Blair, the son of a civil servant in Bengal, India, which was then under British administration. When he was young, Orwell became a Communist but his experiences in Spain during the 30s instilled in him a bitter hatred of the ideology, and he penned two brilliant novels attacking Communism, Stalinism in particular. The first of these novels, Animal Farm, was a satire on the Russian Revolution; the second, 1984, was a projection into a future dystopia which was ruled by a tyrannical all-pervasive government that controlled every aspect of its citizens' lives. Love - except love for Big Brother - and indeed the sexual act were outlawed, certainly for party members and aparatchiks, and anyone could be denounced for any reason. Arbitrary arrest, torture and execution were very real threats for anyone and everyone.
    1984 saw the introduction of the concept of thought crime, something that has become very real today. At the top of the pyramid was Big Brother, a cult figure who may not have actually existed. Over the half century and more since Orwell's death, the term Big Brother has come to mean an all-pervasive, all-seeing state which seeks to control the affairs of every citizen and enforces even the slightest deviance with Draconian penalties. In the book, people were monitored by CCTV even in their own homes; the state could hear literally every word they spoke. In the modern world, the term Big Brother has become synonymous with this type of surveillance.
  • Bowie's song, which runs to 3 minutes 21 seconds, was written in 1973 and intended for a musical adaptation of the novel, but Orwell's estate refused permission. The song mirrors the supposedly paternalistic face of Big Brother, and ends with the refrain "We want you Big Brother," a sad but accurate comment on those of a politically correct disposition. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2

Comments: 2

  • John from Boise, IdOne of my all time favorite Bowie songs. I only saw him perform it 'live' once, (despite seeing him live 7 times) and that was on the 'Glass Spider' tour, (although I did see him on that tour 3 times). Then when the dvd of that tour came out it was a great disappointment to me that he left it out!?. His performance of it on that tour was 'classic'. If we ever get to talk that will be the bone I will have to pick with him LOL.
  • Jack from Lodi, NjOne of my all time favorite Bowie songs. I only saw him perform it 'live' once, (despite seeing him live 7 times) and that was on the 'Glass Spider' tour, (although I did see him on that tour 3 times).

    Then when the dvd of that tour came out it was a great disappointment to me that he left it out!?.

    His performance of it on that tour was 'classic'.

    If we ever get to talk that will be the bone I will have to pick with him LOL.
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