Modern Love

Album: Let's Dance (1983)
Charted: 2 14
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Songfacts®:

  • This is about the struggle to find solace in love and religion. It has also been suggested this song contemplates the old adage "The more things change the more they stay the same." Explaining how he remained a force in pop music for so many years, Bowie sings, "It's not really work it's just a power to charm." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Dominic - Brockton, MA
  • Bowie said this song's call-and-response vocal arrangement "all comes from Little Richard." A defining moment in Bowie's childhood was when his dad came home with a copy of "Tutti Frutti."
  • This sounds very similar to Elton John's "I'm Still Standing." They were both recorded around the same time and Bowie nor John were aware of each other's song.
  • In 1987, Bowie re-recorded this with Tina Turner for a Pepsi commercial where he plays a scientist who creates the perfect woman (Turner), with a little help from Pepsi. The storyline is cribbed from the 1985 movie Weird Science.
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan played guitar on this track. Bowie asked him to play on the Let's Dance album after seeing him perform at a music festival. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France

Comments: 12

  • Sara Agan from Denver It's mostly referring to being more or less into playing the field, stringing along one nighters, and heading fast as hell real quick once satisfaction is achieved. This is my take on "modern love."
  • CobottoI think bowie refers to modern love as a sense of oneness, also the song speaks on how humanity hasnt really evolved much throughout history, judging each other over our different ideals and/or ways of living has stunted our growth as humans. P.S. I think bowie also sings this song as if he were all of humankind
    Line/ my translation:
    -I catch a paper boy/ he gets the morning paper
    -but things don't really change/ news in the paper is the same s--t as always
    -im standin in the wind/ referring back to first 2 lines this says that all negative stuff we create makes it harder to see the love, its pushing against your inner self, like trying to stand still in a strong wind
    -but I never wave bye bye/ stating that we never say bye to the negative life cycles we find ourselves in instead throughout history humankind has reapeated their mishaps over and over always recieving the same outcome yet still collectively unaware that this our creation meaning all we have to do is choose to say bye bye to fear, negative thought feeds emotion negatively and those feelings run a pattern of fearful negative s--t through your head to your emotion and so on and so on
    -but I try, I try/ refering to the fact of trying to reject or ignore negativity and experiencing an internal struggle, the reason why is because you cant push negatively away, that will only cause it to come back at you harder, the act of pushing, rejecting, and ignoring are all traits born from fear (negativity), fighting fear with fear will only multiply fear,...acceptance is key, we are products of love we don't have to try to be happy if we just accept things as they are, you'll see acceptance dissolves fear and with fear gone you can feel the love shine again, love is what we are, fear is a natural reaction for the human mind being programmed and conditioned to feel certain ways and have ideals that you dont truly understand and likely dont try to understand, this is how you came in the world, this is what youve been told and how youve been guided your whole life, but if you'll take a minute to pause, forget what youve been told or presented, ask your own questions to life and go with what you feel in your gut

    -theres no sign of life/ living in fear keeps you in your head, it doesnt allow you to experience life vibrantly, your brain is a necessary tool for navigating this earth but it is not you. You exist behind the thought, in other words you can choose to power the ego down or put it in the back seat so to speak until you choose to let it out, the brain is powerful, if its not seen for what it is it can drive you around your whole life, its doing its job, its your responsibility to become aware of yourself, of whats going on internally, and as you become aware you also master the art of acceptance, for you can only accept what youve become aware of, so dwelling in fear, is literally covering the love, life and wonder up like a thick cloud blotting out the sun, fear can block your lust for life if you allow it, dont try to be anything, just Be
    -its just the power to charm/ all thats left when you dwell in fear is the mind, youve temporarily suppressed your inner self, the mind alone doesnt truly understand what love is, it only knows that love is good, that being said the mind also has 2 primary functions that it must perform at all times,,, problem solving and surviving, first the mind will attempt to solve a problem, Ex. anytime there is change in your life your mind percieves this to be a problem ( because of the minds second function your survival instinct ) your brain perceives a problem because change is uncertain which can be a little uneasy or make you anxious at times, the mind is in its own kind of panic now because the mind is trying to solve a problem that's not a real problem, meaning it has no solution except to just accept the change, since the mind needs everything nice, neat, and in order; for the purpose of putting you at ease, it freaks out a little when facing uncertainty and when it freaks out your survival instinct will kick in, and as long as this isnt an actual survival situation this usually means you get defensive, you wanna be right, gaurds up, and aggression/adrenalin, as well as a strong ignorance, I got a lot to say but long story short, the ego can only illustrate a personality which it percieves to be a personality that will logically fit in good with the crowd and/or situation you find yourself in, and in most cases the person is not aware of theyre ego being at play, ego has no feeling, no sence of wonder, no imagination, no sence of adventure... The mind cant truly experience life because I am the life and the mind is my tool, my onboard computer, stay present and use the mind the way you want to when you want to, only your being or conciousness or whatever word you choose has the power to manifest and feel what has manifested.
    -im lying in the rain/ lying in the rain messy and weighed down by water, this line is a metaphor, similar to the one I previously used saying fear suppress the light inside of you like a rain cloud blotting out the sun, lying in the rain is a metaphore touching what its like to be controlled by fear through the unconscious programming/conditioning of the mind...
    -but I never wave bye bye/ still I never wave bye bye, this line goes with next one in saying I never wave bye bye.... but I try I try, as I said before you cant push fear away, but total acceptance of what is (to be content with what is) will show you again what it feels to be lovin livin, in song bowie says I never wave bye bye, but I do try>>>>>dont try just be

    Now the chorus he takes a step to other side of things, I'll write the whole chorus then meaning...
    - Never gonna fall for
    -modern love, walks beside me
    -modern love, walks on by
    -modern love, gets me to the church on time
    -church on time, terrifies me
    -church on time, makes me party
    -church on time, puts my trust in god and man
    -god and man, no confession
    -god and man, no religion
    -god and man, dont believe in modern love
    >>>ok I'm gonna make this as short as possible, ive touched it already the chorus is bowie sharing the idea of not separating or dividing ourselves from one another based off strong ideals or beliefs or images, also this touches on the idea of not needing to be part of a religion to have a spiritual connection, Modern Love meaning according to Bowie, modern love is describing how we've found ways to take ideas you hold dear or people you have strong feelings for, something which is pure and beautiful and enlightening and that only be known by you because these are things that only matter to you and only affect your life, such spirituality or intimate love, Bowie doesn't agree with the fact we have marriages to prove to other people that we love each other, or joining a religion because spirituality is understood and felt differently by different people and that's ok, it's actually a good thing for that is how we as humans expand our knowledge on every subject, creating institutions for these types of things took what was felt and understood and loved and open to deeper understanding, and with marriages (by the way I have nothing against marriage) the point here is that if you love someone and they you then be with them, marriage only gets the law involved, turning your love for one another into something that's forced by law or there'll be repercussions, this whether realized at first or not puts a pressure there (not 100% of the time), because now you feel obligated by law which we know people often lose interest in things their obligated too, over time obligation dries up the passion, and then maybe judgements and different looks from friends or family adds more pressure, without conventional marraige, love with you spouse could be free and untethered like its should to be, and without religion saying whos right and whos wrong, we could share knowledge and understanding and broaden our horizons, can even fathom what we can be capable of the moment we look at that person of different ethnicity, different spiritual beliefs, different in any way at all it dont matter when we can look at our neighbors across the planet and see them as your own self, embrace with love and acceptance, lets stop hoarding knowledge and share across the world, quit wastin energy on war, forgive and come together, and as 1(One) collective there's no question or goal we couldn't accomplish!
    Side note: Humans are feeling beings, if you jump outta your head and trust your gut, you'll find your guts initial feeling never leads you astray, human beings are meant to coexist to evolve and prosper, and to clear up the definition coexist does not mean to live in the same community with the same financial institutions and we all have to wake up and play a part in feeding dollars to the top of the pyramid/NO. That closer to an opposite definition if anything. Coexist means> to exist in the same place at the same time...
    Ok to to exist in the same place, to exist in the same place is no task, as we know from science, and has even been mentioned religious documents, everything everywhere anyhow anyway, all space and objects and people between the space is all made up of the same molecules of energy and we call all this energy matter, as far as we know everything in the universe is matter made up of the same s--t, so the stuff that makes up the stars, moon, planets, space, air, water, gold, electricity, radio waves, and now they can even measure the frequency of your thoughts and have proven then even your thoughts take up space and all this is the exact stuff (on a molecular level) that makes up your body, and your being, the true essence of you outside you physical body...

    Today:
    a young man realizes that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibrational frequency, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we are the imagination of ourselves
  • Jim from Enid, OkThe lyrics "But I try, I try" hang in my head as an assurance that I try to keep going and get through all my complex situations, fears and anxieties. It's ludicrous but even to this day I have a hard time imagining wealthy entertainers and actors going through the mundane things in life. The lyrics, "I catch the paper boy" is David Bowie buying a newspaper and going back to his house and reading it.
  • Dirk from Nashville, TnI think Davey would be hard pressed to explain exactly what he felt this song was "about" back in the crazy New Wave days of 1983. It's got a great beat and you can dance to it, as they used to say on American Bandstand. But I believe it's a muddle of lyrcis that don't add up to much. For example, what, exactly, is it that the singer is "catching" the paper boy doing? But I never wave bye-bye?
    ...And how funny is it that Bowie brought in one of the slickest guitarists of the the day for this album... and yet, the lead guitar solos sound those that a middle-aged musician in a 1940s Big Band would play.
  • Steve from Berkeley, CaThis song is an Modern version of Soul Love. Both are cyclical songs.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyBowie said that he and his bandmates made this song up in the studio. Many of Bowie's original songs were done like this.
  • Mary from Phoenix, AzI think he is the hottest in this video. Somethin' about him that was so sexy in this video....Meow, purr
  • Mark from Worcester, MiI saw Bowie during his "Serious Moonlight" Tour. He closed the night with this song. Great show. Fine showman.
  • Angelique from Allentown, PaI feel like this song is about how a man doesn't need religion or the church to express his love for another.
  • Quin from Alpine, UtI remember hearing this song a long time ago and trying to find it to listen to again and my joy when I finally found it...great song
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, Cathis is probably my favorite Bowie song
  • Mike from Denver, CoThis is Bowie's best tune, IMHO. "Let's Dance" is a great album, and this tune is great to sing along with. The lyrics seem disjointed, but it really works--it's like a super-compressed life/love story.

    To me the song seems to say how the way that people love each other has changed so much over the years, and how it's influenced by different things or not so much anymore. He seems to be a man broken-hearted by the way a woman's love is nowadays, and how he's learned not to trust it.
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