Sound And Vision

Album: Low (1977)
Charted: 3 69
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Songfacts®:

  • This song was Bowie's initial response at retreating from America in an attempt to get away from his drug addiction. Bowie said this song was about "wanting to be put in a little cold room with omnipotent blue on the walls and blinds on the windows."
  • Backing vocals on this track are provided by Mary Hopkin, who was the wife of the producer Tony Visconti.
  • An unusual song to be released as a single, it was recorded at first as an instrumental with Mary Hopkin's backing vocals before Bowie recorded his own vocals. He then trimmed some of them, leaving the opening instrumental section as longer than the main vocal part.
  • This was a hit in the UK despite Bowie doing nothing to promote the song himself. It reached the top end of the charts mainly as a result of the BBC using it as background music to its program announcements at the time.
  • RCA, David Bowie's then record label, had little faith in Low, but it has been subsequently recognized as one of the most innovative, influential albums of the 1970s. The website Pitchfork voted it the best album of the '70s. Bowie described the album as "A new way of looking at life." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for all above
  • Whilst Bowie's backing band worked at the instrumentation, the "Thin White Duke" sat in the control room listening. Guitarist Ricky Gardener recalled to Mojo magazine January 2012, then, "he just went into the studio and sang it straight off, words and all. He listened to the playback once, adjusted something in his head and did it again. And that was that."

Comments: 7

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 13th 1977, David Bowie with Iggy Pop performed in concert at the Jean-Deslauriers Theater in Montréal, Canada, it was the first stop on their North American tour...
    The following month on April 3rd, 1977 David's "Sound and Vision" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #86; eventually it peaked at #69 and stayed on the chart for 6 weeks...
    It reached #2 in New Zealand and #6 in Germany...
    Was track four of side one on his eleventh studio album, 'Low', and the album peaked #2 on the United Kingdom Albums chart and #11 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    Mr. Bowie, born David Robert Jones, will celebrate his 69th birthday come next January 8th* {2016}...
    * Elvis was celebrating his 12th birthday on the day that David was born.
  • Luke from Auckland, New ZealandBecame my favourite Bowie track upon revisiting his work recently. Can remember liking it from it's origin, when I was a young teen.
    I love it's melody - simple and 'lulling', while the 'long intro' just endears the listener to the song. If Bowie were the Pied Piper, this'd be what he'd play.
  • Ruz from Adjuntas, Puerto RicoBeing a songwriter myself, everytime that I listen to this classic, it is obvious that the song is about what it is...Sound and Vision.

    The gift of inspiration, and the process of capturing it.
  • Kenny from Clydebank, ScotlandHere's a record that moved the goalposts, redefined rock. The synthesizer comes into its own on the album Low. The cover is striking, an enigmatic Bowie against an orange background, in his duffelcoat, The Man Who Fell to Earth look, deserves to be in a book of the best album artwork (it probably is, along with Roger Dean's YES work and Pink Floyd's famous Dark Side of the Moon, prism)Such a stand-out track, a new sound from the audio box of bowie colours.
  • Icarus from London, United StatesThis effect that's on Space Oddity is done with syns. It's amazing, you have to listn to it where you can shut off a speaker, and switch back 'n' forth. A lot of his song are like this. David is so innovative.
  • Icarus from London, United StatesGoran, you're wrong. Every David Bowie fan knows about his strugle with COCAINE.this song is about his cocaine-fueled paranoia. Ashes to Ashes is another song.
    And David Bowie does sing the deeper parts of all his songs. Are you sure your a fan? Listen to Space Oddity and periodically switch between speakers. You will find in one speaker he is sing low, but the other one high!
  • Goran from Monterey, CaHalf of the song - the deeper parts - is actually sung by Brian Eno, who was a major contributor to Bowie's "Berlin Trilogy" of Heroes, Low and Lodger, to the extent that it is sometimes referred to as a Bowie/Eno trilogy.
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