TVC 15

Album: Station To Station (1976)
Charted: 33 64


  • Bowie wrote this after hearing about Iggy Pop's drug-induced hallucination, where he thought a girlfriend was being consumed by her television set. Details of the story are sketchy, as Bowie remembers little about the drug-fueled recording of his Station To Station album. The song proved a modest hit on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching #33 in the UK and #64 in the US.
  • Bowie performed an upbeat version of this at the Live Aid concert in London in 1985.
  • American keyboardist Roy Bittan, who is best known as a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, tinkled the ivories. Bowie asked him to sound like New Orleans blues singer and pianist Professor Longhair.

    Bittan recalled to Uncut in 2016: "When I recorded with him on Station to Station, the first thing he wanted me to play was 'TVC 15.' He said to me, 'Hey can you do like a Professor Longhair thing on this song?' I was like, 'Professor Longhair? This Brit is asking me about Professor Longhair?' I was really taken aback.

    The funny thing was that literally three weeks before that session, we had been in Houston and (E Street bassist) Garry Talent and I had seen in the paper that Professor Longhair was playing in some roadhouse outside of town. So we went to this place and Longhair was sitting at an upright piano and playing in this little club – it was fantastic. So when David asked me to do that, it was a very fortuitous moment and very surprising."

Comments: 12

  • Ben from New Zealand I think parts of this song sounds a bit like that pop song that came out in 2013 called blurred lines
  • Ben from New Zealand I can't think what pop song it is but I have heard a pop song similar to this
  • Futurist from CaliforniaTVC15 is printed on the side of some sound equipment in a James Taylor concert video I was watching. just thought I'd throw that into this discussion... I could post my screen shot.
  • 70s Flashback from Nyc, NyA TV set swallows someone up. Pure 70s Bowie from a great album.
  • Darren from Albuquerque, NmTVC15 was the make and model of a small ball shaped television with a screen size of about 12 inches, black and white. It had a cassette tape underneath it too. Hence TV/C. I had one in the early 70,s. It clearly said in silver letters next to the tape deck. TVC15
  • Harry from Sunnyvale, CaJust as in a well-written novel, songs sometimes are played in a person's life to foreshadow coming events, like an announcement of a new chapter's title. This particular song was such a sign for me the first time I heard it as I sat in a school of drafting admission's lobby. When I walked out of the lobby and into the building's hallway, a nurse rushed past me on her way to a clinic, as the lines, "Transition/Transmission," kept repeating over and over in my head. Then years later all three, the school, the girl and the clinic, moved to different locations, until several years after that, all reappeared together in my life when I unknowingly attended the same school that led to my career, discovered the mystery to an illness at the clinic that had plagued me for a decade, and I nearly married the nurse, like they had been book-marked as life-transitioning events.
  • Dave from San Antonio, TxWell, I think the song is about the future and technological advances... Bowie mentions quadrophonics, the four-way stereo precursor to surround sound... This TVC 15 was perhaps to envelop the viewer in a 3d world, and such viewer would have trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality... He brings his girlfriend over to see the TVC 15 and she "gets lost in it" so to speak... I don't know... just seems nicer somehow than a meaningless drug-induced song.
  • Paul from Cleveland, OhTo Sylvia from St. Charles, IL

    Since it seems the song is about hallucinogenic drugs, the title may be a reference to the scientific abbreviation for acid. Which is LSD25.
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhTvc15 is probably just a reference to the carnivorous TV set. I think Bowie was on too much coke to slip any hidden meanings in this song. Great song despite the blow.
  • Lee from Mobile, AlMy musician husband has told me that there is a lot of math involved in music. That's why there is such a push to save music in schools, it forces music students to use math and creativity. There's a large volume of research on 'save the music' that shows how learning music is good for brains.
  • Sylvia from St. Charles, Ildoes anyone know what "tvc 15" is? is it a tv channel in Britain or perhaps Germany? I first heard this song when I bought the hero's album back in 1976, but it didn't do anything for me then. I again heard it when I bought the live aid dvd and it aroused my curiousity. Like most of Bowie's songs it's difficult to understand. But I find him very intelligent and because we share the same birthday, I am curious about him.
  • Cliff from Burkesville, KyI heard somewhere that this song is "mathematically flawless." Does anybody know anything about this? And what does it mean for a song to be mathematically flawless anyway? Thanks in advance.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk: Rock vs. Televangelists

Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk: Rock vs. TelevangelistsSong Writing

When televangelists like Jimmy Swaggart took on rockers like Ozzy Osbourne and Metallica, the rockers retaliated. Bono could even be seen mocking the preachers.

Who Did It First?

Who Did It First?Music Quiz

Do you know who recorded the original versions of these ten hit songs?

Bill Withers

Bill WithersSongwriter Interviews

Soul music legend Bill Withers on how life experience and the company you keep leads to classic songs like "Lean On Me."

"Private Eyes" - The Story Behind the Song

"Private Eyes" - The Story Behind the SongSong Writing

How a goofy detective movie, a disenchanted director and an unlikely songwriter led to one of the biggest hits in pop history.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater RevivalFact or Fiction

Is "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" about Vietnam? Was John Fogerty really born on a Bayou? It's the CCR edition of Fact or Fiction.

90s Metal

90s MetalFact or Fiction

Test your metal - Priest, Maiden, and Beavis and Butt-head show up in this one.