What does Rebel Rebel mean?

David Bowie: Rebel Rebel Meaning

Album cover for Rebel Rebel album cover

Song Released: 1974

Rebel Rebel Lyrics

Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo
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,...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Jul 31st 2020 !⃝

    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.

  2. anonymous
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    Feb 21st 2023 !⃝

    I think it's about a tomboyish girl. I think she got into a fight, hence "you've torn your dress, your face is a mess" I don't think she's necessarily trans, just a teen whose trying to figure things out. The guy loves and supports her and is letting her know.

  3. anonymous
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    Jan 21st 2018 !⃝

    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.

  4. Elbert Colorado
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    May 19th 2015 !⃝

    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.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  5. anonymous
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    Aug 13th 2014 !⃝

    My husband always sang this song to me. I was a wild child tomboy. Now I get it lol

  6. Lisa69
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    Jul 24th 2014 !⃝

    It's about a drag queen groupy that follows a band...His mom hates that.

  7. anonymous
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    Jun 30th 2012 !⃝

    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.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  8. dallasmusiclover
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    Aug 1st 2010 !⃝

    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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