I'd Rather Be High

Album: The Next Day (2013)
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Songfacts®:

  • This slice of neo-psychedelia finds Bowie lamenting a shellshocked war veteran. Producer Tony Visconti explained to Rolling Stone: "'I'd Rather Be High' is about a soldier who's come out of the war and he's just burnt out, and rather than becoming a human being again, I think he laments, 'I'd rather be high. I don't want to know. I'm trying to erase these thoughts from my mind."
  • The desert setting suggests contemporary conflict, as the poor beaten up combatant curses his situation. "I'd rather be flying," sings Bowie, "I'd rather be dead, than out of my head and training these guns on those men in the sand."
  • Bowie sings a new version of this song in an renaissance-inspired advert for French fashion house Louis Vuitton. The short film, which is titled L'Invitation Au Voyage, stars American fashion model Arizona Muse and is directed by Romain Gavras, the man behind the clips for M.I.A.'s "Born Free" and "Bad Girls" plus Kanye West and Jay-Z's "No Church in The Wild."
  • English creative director and graphic designer Tom Hingston directed the video for the song's Venetian Mix, which appears on the expanded release, The Next Day Extra. The anti-war clip pairs vintage footage of wartime battle and celebration with close up shots of Bowie's distorted face. Hingston's London-based design studio has worked with a number of artists, including include Massive Attack, Lady Gaga and The Rolling Stones.

    Hingston explained the thinking behind the video: "In early conversations, Mr. Bowie and I discussed exploring archival footage that brought to life another side of war - footage that featured soldiers celebrating; young servicemen and women, in moments of jubilation - drinking, dancing and partying," he said. "These moments of total euphoria, juxtaposed with extreme violence, hopefully serve as a powerful reminder of the futility of war."

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