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Remembering TV on the Radio’s epic cover of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’


One of the most wonderful things about David Bowie as an artist is that he welcomed you into his world of influence. He was never guarded about the emerging bands who inspired him, and as such he gave many acts a leg up. TV On the Radio (in other words Sound and Vision) were one of the many benefactors of the generous hat tips he gave out. 

In fact, during a decade of musical hiatus, Bowie even linked up with the group for the song Province from their excellent 2006 record Return to Cookie Mountain. Naturally, this was an awe-inspiring moment for the emerging act who were simply happy to be in his celestial presence let alone make music with ‘The Starman’.

Speaking of this fateful meeting, singer Tunde Adebimpe once said: “We were at a gas station and Dave [Sitek] got the phone call and hung up the phone because he thought it was our friend Julian pulling another joke. ‘Yeah, you’re David Bowie right’.” Presumably, this was a problem that Bowie often faced, especially given his distinctive tones. In fact, it is rumoured that he never managed to get a pizza delivered for over 30 years. 

However, as Adebimpe continues: “He called him back two more times and said, ‘No, I’m really David Bowie.” The rest was history. An agog Dave Sitek obviously agreed to his offer to work with them and Bowie “listened to the record half-finished and chose that song.” 

Once more, Bowie let others take the reins during the process.  It is, without doubt, one of his greatest attributes as an artist that he wasn’t unhinged by his own sense of individualism and was happy to celebrate the artistic vision of others. As a painter, he could’ve crafted all of his own album covers. As a producer, he could have locked himself away in a studio. As a highly unique writer, he could’ve kept his influences to himself, but instead, he relished in a world of creativity and left the door open for his fans.

TV On the Radio were happy to return the favour too. The band tackled a typically Brooklyn-sounding version of Bowie’s classic anthem ‘Heroes’. Drenched in the stylings of the noughties electronic post-punk revival, the song is somehow a complete reimagining and yet it remains oddly faithful. Like TV On the Radio at their best, there is something strangely intimate about the outing. 

You can check out it out below.

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