David Bowie

Silly Boy Blue

Composed by David Bowie

Song Review by

"Silly Boy Blue" was one of the better songs on David Bowie's debut album, whose material has for the most part been ignored by critics over the years. Like many of the songs he recorded during that era, "Silly Boy Blue" was afflicted by too-fruity production, obscuring a song that was actually pretty lyrically ambitious. Orchestral brass, a cello, and simulated gong splashes back Bowie on the drumless first verse, which actually turns out to be about a Tibetan monk-in-the-making. As, again, on much of the album, Bowie's vocals are too operatic to do the song full justice, but it actually does have a good lilting melody (and at one point he and background voices actually chant a verse with wordless la-las). Though somewhat obscurely, the song addresses some issues that, in 1967, were not exactly standard fare: reincarnation and the struggle to transcend the material world. Bowie would grapple with philosophical concepts more effectively within two or three years, but this song is an interesting foreshadowing of some of his later directions. The best bit of the arrangement is at the very end, when Bowie and the background voices (most likely Bowie's own, overdubbed) waver in a ghostly fade. Bowie recorded a much more straightforward mod rock-oriented arrangement of the song on a demo acetate in 1966 that has shown up on bootleg, and though it's spare and unfinished, it actually works better than the more elaborate production on the debut album.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
David Bowie [1967] 1967 Deram 3:48
Starting Point 1977 Deram / PolyGram
David Bowie (Love You Till Tuesday) 1984 Deram
Rock Reflections 1990 Deram 3:52
The Deram Anthology 1966-1968 1997 Deram 3:53
Nothing Has Changed 2014 Columbia / Legacy 0:00