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Music

David Bowie producer recalls "goosebumps" moment during the recording of 'Low'

Producer Tony Visconti enjoyed a fruitful working relationship with David Bowie. Acting as his spokesperson, Visconti remembered an exchange with the late songwriter during the making of Low that suggested Bowie had “special mental powers”. Visconti went one further, explaining how he felt it was a “goosebumps” moment. 

Living in Germany, Visconti was alarmed by the differences between the West (traditionally more prosperous, and more accustomed to American tourists), and the East (which was influenced by the Soviet Union). 

“It was a little harrowing going from the west to the east and vice versa,” Visconti told BBC Radio 6. “And the most despairing thing was, when we went back into the west, lined along the roadway were East Berliners who were pleading with us, in broad daylight, [to] put them in boot of the car or [let them] cling to the bottom of the car.”

Iggy Pop joined Visconti to listen to ‘Weeping Wall’, as he explained:”David said, ‘I want all of you to take a piece of paper and a pencil, and we’re going to listen to ‘Weeping Wall.’ … I want you to draw a picture of what you think the song is about.’ So we played ‘Weeping Wall’ through, and all of us got to work scribbling.”

Impressed by the challenge, Visconti was similarly confident that no one had seen what he had put down. He certainly had not looked at anyone’s work. “When it was over he said, ‘OK, turn the papers over’ … and we all had almost identical drawings – this was really weird. All of us had a jagged-edged wall like the edges of a woodcutting saw. It wasn’t a wall with flat tops; it was a wall with jagged tops.

“Some of us put a moon over the jagged teeth and some of us put a sun over it, like a circle, but almost unanimously we drew the same picture. And David turned his over, and it was a picture of a lizard, like an alligator, with his mouth open, eating the sun – an orb – and it was all goosebumps from that moment on.”

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