David Bowie

Eight Line Poem

Song Review by

Something of a second part to "Oh! You Pretty Things" on Hunky Dory -- the two flow together without any separation -- "Eight Line Poem" is one of David Bowie's more obscure numbers. It's a bit unsurprising considering that "Life on Mars?" followed it on the album, but "Eight Line Poem" still has a certain something to recommend it, right from its gentle start of Mick Ronson's slightly country-tinged guitar and Rick Wakeman's calm but strong piano parts. Living up to the title of the song, Bowie himself only has the eight lines throughout the song, letting the two musicians lead the way with their moody, reflective contributions. The lyrics are among Bowie's most cryptic, which admittedly is saying something ("While the cacti find a home" doesn't trip off the tongue), but his performance is both enjoyable theatrical and, once or twice, almost soulful in parts. It's a bit of a diversion for Bowie and not a bona fide classic, but it works well on the album and rewards repeated listening.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Hunky Dory 1971 Atlantic / Elektra / Parlophone / Rhino / Warner Music 2:55
Five Years (1969-1973) 2015 Parlophone / Warner Music 2:55
Burberry Acoustic: The Collection For London Fashion Week
Various Artists
Sony Music Entertainment 2:54