David Bowie: Rebel Rebel Meaning
Song Released: 1974
Rebel Rebel Lyrics
Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo
You've got your mother in a whirl
She's not sure if you're a boy or a girl
Hey babe, your hair's alright
Hey babe, let's go out tonight
You like me,...
anonymous Jul 31st, 7:10am report
it seems to me like it’s about someone whose gender or gender presentation doesn’t line up with the typical binary. “you’ve got your mother in a whirl, she’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl” as well as “you wanna be there when they count up the dudes” and “you’ve torn your dress”. maybe they’re non-binary or gender fluid, tho i doubt Bowie would’ve had those words in mind when he wrote the song.
the song also makes a soft reference to Bowie’s bisexuality, with “you like me, and i like it all”, saying he likes the subject in all their non-traditional gender.
a big part of the theme is how most people seem not to understand the subject— their mother is confused by them, and as Bowie says, “they put you down, they say i’m wrong”... but Bowie sings as a lover, and he loves the subject, calamity’s child, for all they are, as everything they are.
anonymous Jan 21st, 2018 1:41pm report
clearly this song is about David Bowie's influences and relationships, specifically Lou Reed and Andy Warhol and the gender bending culture of Warhols' 'factory' which heavily influenced David and Angie's relationship and Bowie's own cross dressing and gender bending adventures. this is Bowies' response to Lou Reed's 'walk on the wild side' which shares the same origin and influences. around the same time Lou Reed had a trans lover and Bowie admitted to being bisexual.
Elbert Colorado May 19th, 2015 5:56pm report
It would seem that it is simply about goth girl, or similar counter-culture genre, who meets with the disapproval of her mother's desire for some modicum of normalcy. The fact that she's "torn her dress" indicates she started off with one prior to her personality change. She cut her hair. She got piercings all over her face. She cut her hair short and maybe colored it with a bizarre color. I suppose she would look like the black girl in Bowie's band. "When they count up the dudes indicates she's not at all monogamous. And so, a rebel.
anonymous Aug 13th, 2014 8:17pm report
My husband always sang this song to me. I was a wild child tomboy. Now I get it lol
anonymous Jun 30th, 2012 6:47am report
Just a song about a girl who is more like a guy, and he is saying he likes her even though other people find her strange. Good for him.
dallasmusiclover Aug 1st, 2010 8:57pm report
My interpretation of the song is its talking about a tomboy who is not sure about her identity. Like her everyone around her is confused about her identity except the person who accepts her for who she is. It's about a young boy and his girlfriend and him letting her know she's still special even though she is different than everyone else.
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