Rebel Rebel

Album: Diamond Dogs (1974)
Charted: 5 64
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  • Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo
    Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo
    Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo

    You've got your mother in a whirl
    She's not sure if you're a boy or a girl
    Hey babe, your hair's alright
    Hey babe, let's go out tonight
    You like me, and I like it all
    We like dancing and we look divine
    You love bands when they're playing hard
    You want more and you want it fast
    They put you down, they say I'm wrong
    You tacky thing, you put them on

    Rebel rebel, you've torn your dress
    Rebel rebel, your face is a mess
    Rebel rebel, how could they know?
    Hot tramp, I love you so!

    Don't ya?
    Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo

    You've got your mother in a whirl 'cause she's
    Not sure if you're a boy or a girl
    Hey babe, your hair's alright
    Hey babe, let's stay out tonight
    You like me, and I like it all
    We like dancing and we look divine
    You love bands when they're playing hard
    You want more and you want it fast
    They put you down, they say I'm wrong
    You tacky thing, you put them on

    Rebel rebel, you've torn your dress
    Rebel rebel, your face is a mess
    Rebel rebel, how could they know?
    Hot tramp, I love you so!

    Don't ya?
    Oh?
    Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo
    Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo

    Rebel rebel, you've torn your dress
    Rebel rebel, your face is a mess
    Rebel rebel, how could they know?
    Hot tramp, I love you so!

    You've torn your dress, your face is a mess
    You can't get enough, but enough ain't the test
    You've got your transmission and your live wire
    You got your cue line and a handful of ludes
    You wanna be there when they count up the dudes
    And I love your dress
    You're a juvenile success
    Because your face is a mess
    So how could they know?
    I said, how could they know?

    So what you wanna know
    Calamity's child, chi-chi, chi-chi
    Where'd you wanna go?
    What can I do for you? Looks like you've been there too
    'Cause you've torn your dress
    And your face is a mess
    Ooh, your face is a mess
    Ooh, ooh, so how could they know?
    Eh, eh, how could they know?
    Eh, eh Writer/s: David Bowie
    Publisher: BMG Rights Management, Downtown Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 35

  • Dan from OhFirst of all, the question is gay or not gay? Boy looking like a girl, or girl looking like a boy? I think when determining the meaning of a song, you have to either go to the source (Bowie) or think about things. 1. This is the early 70's, so long hair on men was not at all unusual. However, short-haired women were still quite unusual and would cause someone to question. He also says "we look divine". Now I would doubt that any gay men were saying you look divine in the early 70's. The closet door was still closed and locked. In opposition, had it been a boy that looked like a girl, this song would have been given an "XX' rating and not have been allowed to be sold. I have to assume he is talking about a Joan Jett looking female. I could be way off base here.
  • Tom from Warrington, United KingdomBowie,if i`m not mistaken said the song was about going out with billy doll,and his mothers reaction to the way billy dressed,hence she`s not sure if he`s a boy or a girl.
    majortom,england.
  • Paul from Rothesay, Nb, CanadaI do believe this song was written during the Ziggy Stardust sessions but was cut from the album because it didn't fit the concept. Bowie plays a very truncated version of "Rebel Rebel" on the "Storytellers" CD/DVD, which is a shame, but the story about is early days chumming about with Marc Bolan is a gem.
  • Reuben from Amsterdam, NetherlandsGuy Pellaert is actually a Belgian artist. He made a lot of images of rock stars in his compelling book 'Rock Dreams'.
  • Allie from Pine Knob, MiI LOVE the guitar at the begining of this song
    that sets the whole rebelious mood for the song.
    I love the lyrics, very free spirited song
  • Kenny from Clydebank, ScotlandIt's the guitar riff and the music that make this song a standard. The gender bending is far out when you're twenty, youth is extravagant, after all. But maybe not this generation methinks.
  • Lila from San Diego, Calove this song, really do, i love a lot of songs, and this is one of them. one thing tho, "Walk On The Wild Side" by Lou Reed was a song about tansvestites, not only one.
  • Kayla from Bloomington, InI agree with Nessie (Sapporo, Japan)! And this song does have a great riff.
  • Jess from Cape Town, South AfricaOk did anyone read 1984? Diamond Dogs was based on the book and this song depicts Julia in 1984. Julia is a member of the anti-sex league "Doesnt know if you're a boy or a girl" and at one part state who she wants ato get a dress, which is a forbidden object "rebel, rebel, put on your dress" its about Winston and Julia being rebelious towards the party and Big Brother. That aside; this song ROCKS!
  • Joe from Notttingham, EnglandThough i havn't heard the diamond dogs/1984 theory before and so have no evidence to say anything about the album as a whole, i can definatly say that it seems a bit of a stretch to apply it to julia in 1984, who doesn't even rebel so much as to wear a dress if i recall correctly. This song makes me want to crossdress immediatly!
  • Voodoocat from Zimbabwe, United StatesFirst time I heard this song was in a Ross'. Mom got very irritated when I kept singing the hook over and over again in the car.
  • Paul from Derry, IrelandI'd read somewhere that this song was based on the novel 1984 by George Orwell. In it, having relationships and sex for fun was illegal. The main character, Winston, meets a girl called Julia, who sleeps around, wears sexy clothes and generally rebels. Julia is the hot tramp in the song, er, so I've heard!
  • Andy from London, Englandsurely the filthiest guitar riff in musical history?
  • Mel from South Australia, Australiafor like EVER i thought the line 'you tore your dress' was 'antonio banderes'...oops how embarrassing!
  • Tom from St. Louis, MoSeu Jorge plays this on the acoustic guitar in the life aquatic, it sounds great
  • Dennis from Anchorage, AkIt is a great guitar riff, but the rest of the arrangement is also very cool, the bass line and the unusual drum part, hitting the snare on every beat instead of the usual rock backbeat. A very groovy song.
  • Steve from Midland, Midoes have a sweet guitar part.
    that's AWESOME.

    I like this song
  • Rachel from South Point, OhThis song has THE BEST backing guitar of all time. I love, love, love this song..
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScIs :Arnold Lane" a good song. I've never heard it. I love Pink Floyd though.
  • Alex from Fort Mill, ScThe Pink Floyd song Arnold Layne is also about a cross dresser.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThis song is funny!! I love it, and the riff is pretty cool too.
  • John from Monvtille, NjThe riff rocks. Hell, this song rocks. Doo doo do DOOT DOOT do doo doo!
  • Jeff from San Jose, CaRick Derringer covered this song, it came out on a radio-only promo called "Live in Cleveland" back in the 70's.
  • Andy from Tualatin, OrGreatest Guitar Riff ever! just beats out satisfaction and sweet child o mine. didnt no what it was about but still like it. i thot it was about a rebel who acts punk by ripping her dress.
  • Brian from Meriden, CtTedious guitar riff but it was good. Classic glam but it was good. To think that George Orwell's 1984 inspired such an album, Diamond Dogs. Close enough for rock and roll...
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhWhy would Jagger hate Bowie, if he "stole" the cover design in 1974, and they collaborated on the song Dancing on the Street in the 80's?
  • Jason from Dallas, TxBowie ,originally, approached Norman Rockwell to paint the album cover of "D...Dogs". Rockwell declined.
    Mick Jagger showed Bowie some paintings by Guy P. And as usual Bowie "stole" the idea and the artist and utilized him first.....Supposedly Jagger hates Bowie for it and will no longer share his ideas with him (to this day).
  • Nessie from Sapporo, JapanThe second most tedious riff in rock, after the Stones' "Satisfaction."
  • Jorge from Illinois, IlI can't beleive someone could make such a sweet song about a cross dresser, but if anyone could do it, its has to be Bowie.
  • Ana from Louisville, KyI first heard it as being about a girl who doesn't act like a lady. I think it works both ways - a boy who wears a dress or a girl who would get hers ripped, a boy who wears makeup or a girl who doesn't. Note that the rebel's gender is never actually stated; it could be about either defying traditional gender roles. That's my take, anyway.
    And yeah, I can see how Bowie would be embarrassed about the song later on, but it's still great.
  • Charlotte from Seattle, WaSeu Jorge did a cover recently on The LIfe Aquatic soundtrack
  • Paul from TeddingtonApparantly the Bay City Rollers did a cover version - thankfully I've not heard - a bit like Blue covering Radiohead!!
  • Paige from Sheffield, EnglandBowie: 'Rebel, Rebel' is just for me the funniest song. I can't, I just can't conceive how I wrote that now. I mean, I really must have felt that at the time but... Hot tramp, I love you so, don't give me grief. I mean it's really -- it's so flippant."
  • Shana from Pembroke, Canadalove this song, but didnt know thats what it was about...
  • Nora from Richfield, MnJoan Jett did a cover of this song
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