Word On A Wing

Album: Station To Station (1976)

Songfacts®:

  • Bowie explained on the VH1 Storytellers series that he penned this song as a prayer to see him through the period when a debilitating coke addiction had him flirting with fascism and black magic.

    He recalled: "I think it was so steeped in awfulness that recall is nigh on impossible, certainly painful, and I was concerned with questions like: 'Do the dead interest themselves in the affairs of the living?' 'Can I change the channel on my TV without using the clicker?' Unwittingly, this next song was therefore our signal of distress; I'm sure that it was a call for help."
  • Bowie told the NME that the crunch point came when he was filming the Nicholas Roeg film, The Man Who Fell to Earth. Said the Thin White Duke: "There were days of such psychological terror when making the Roeg film that I nearly started to approach my reborn, born again thing. It was the first time I'd really seriously thought about Christ and God in any depth, and 'Word on a Wing' was a protection. It did come as a complete revolt against elements that I found in the film. The passion in the song was genuine... something I needed to produce from within myself to safeguard myself against some of the situations I felt were happening on the film set."
  • In 1980, Bowie told NME that he believes he was blinkered by religion around the time he wrote this song: "There was a point when I very nearly got suckered into that narrow sort of looking…finding the cross as the salvation of mankind."
  • His cocaine addiction was so severe during its recording that nowadays, Bowie is unable to remember making Station To Station.

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