In the wee morning hours of Tuesday — a.k.a. the 66th birthday of David Bowie — the iconoclastic glam-rocker who hadn't released new music in 10 years finally released new music.
And the world rejoiced — well, when we woke up.
Released exclusively, mysteriously on iTunes ($1.29), and available in 119 countries, the song is called Where Are We Now?, a slow, cool-creepy (natch) ballad seemingly about, or inspired by, Germany during Bowie's famously fertile creative period in the '70s. No one, reportedly not even close pals, knew this was coming.
Produced by longtime collaborator Tony Visconti (T. Rex, Moody Blues), Where Are We Now? opens as a wistful torch song, with the Thin White Duke falsetto crooning, "Had to get the train from Potzdamer Platz." But by the end, stormy guitars and drums add jarring turbulence.
There's even an accompanying video that challenges Bowie's own weird-o-meter. His face, along with a woman's, are three-dimensional masks positioned on teddy bear bodies; behind them is a screen showing murky footage of Berlin. To watch the video, go to davidbowie.com and click on the "Vision" header.
Where Are We Now? is the first single from a new album, The Next Day, due March 12 in the United States. (Australia gets it March 8; everyone else March 11, except us.) The new cut isn't the most explosive thing you'll ever hear, but it could fit in rather nicely on the new record.
Then again: Who knows? From the silence and inactivity (Bowie's last album was 2003's Reality), everyone pretty much thought the star had retired or vanished somewhere to spend the moolah he made selling 130 million albums worldwide during a 46-year career. But Ziggy Stardust has built a lifetime pulling sly surprises. Here's another one. Happy birthday to us all.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.