David Bowie: Young Americans Meaning
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Song Released: 1975
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Young Americans Lyrics
He lays her down, he frowns
"Gee my life's a funny thing, am I still too young?"
He kissed her then and there
She took his ring, took his babies
It took him minutes, took her nowhere
Heaven knows, she'd have...
anonymous Apr 26th, 2016 4:04pm report
Bowie did use the "cut up" method, which is much like frige poetry, but the idea had been around long before him. The Da Da movement pioneered it (IIRC) in the 1920s, at much the same time as T. S. Eliot (1922?), but it became better known when William Burroughs popularised the idea in the 1950-1960s.
Enough history! If you've played frige magnets then you'll know that the mixed text is rarely the final product! Usually the writer mixes the cut-up words until they stumble across an interesting or unexpected line, and then choose that.
Cut-up prose & poetry could not be written by a computer armed with the dictionary and a random number generator! It's just a way for the writer to get past mental blocks.
So, so say that these lyrics could mean anything, or nothing, really undervalues the work it takes to write a good cut-up poem! Buy frige magnets and see how hard it is for yourself!
anonymous Feb 22nd, 2016 2:56pm report
I married a young American, he was 20 years old. To say I wanted him would be an understatement. I took advantage of his youth got married and had a baby. He was impossibly beautiful, he was also gay, and all he wanted was a young American with. Leather, leather everywhere, turning tricks in bathrooms, bread winning. Never did anything but judge the child he abandoned. ironically this was my favorite song when we met. Too bad I didn't understand the prophetic lyrics. It took me nowhere, and this is the one goddam song that can still make me cry, every time. Dm
anonymous Aug 18th, 2012 8:47am report
I love this song.I've been listening to it for damn near 40 years.I can still remember the time and the place I was the first time I heard it.It has always had a lot of meaning for me,probably because I was a Young American just itching(aching!)to pull behind a bridge somewhere and pop the cherry of another Young American.
That first stanza did it.I knew,or thought,at least,that I wasn't too young,and it said to me"watch out,or you'll be buying a ring and having and having rugrats",and,more important to my ego at that point,make sure I'm not the guy that takes only minutes,and gives her nothing.I've always tried my best.
This has all been about me,and not about what the lyrics mean.That's because 70% of them are just nonsense rhymes put together because they sound cool(Regardless of what Bowie said about them back then.I'll bet if you asked him today,he'd say the same thing as me).30% percent is some pretty heavy shit,though,which is self explanatory and doesn't need me to give yet another bullshit interpretation of them.
That's what art is all about anyway,right?
Making the (listener/viewer/reader) FEEL, not just see or hear,and take the work in whatever way means most to them.
anonymous Aug 5th, 2012 8:20am report
i in general think that DB is playin with words in an interesting way which sounds good with the muzic but i get the feelin that 4 a lot of his lyrics they r left to the listeners personal interpretation. The Man Who Sold The World sounds fantastic but it i feel tells U absolutely nothin "i left and shook his hand" DB has made a career out of sham lyrics but he did it in such style. he has fooled a lot of people for a lot of the time.....?????
anonymous Feb 1st, 2012 2:30pm report
At first this song seems to be about the breakdown of a marriage. First they are "too young", then he "gives her babies," then she cheats ("spies the slinky vagabond"), then they no longer have an intimate relationship ("the breadwinner begs off the bathroom floor'). It also seems to have something to do with growing up and losing your ideals. I have also read that it is about the materialism and emptiness of American society. Also, I have heard the David Bowie wrote songs by cutting out random words from newspapers or magazines, then scattering them on a table and creating lyrics from they way the words were grouped. So, if this were the case, the song would be about nothing, although one can assume that Bowie would have tried -- consciously or subconsciously -- to group the words to make some kind of statement. Also, you can't discount that he was doing a lot of drugs at the time, so maybe the song is about drugs, which takes you back to the theme of disillusionment.
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