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פ.י.מ.פ.

Analyzing Bowie: Letter to Hermione

In January 1968, Bowie met and fell in love with Hermione Farthingale. Their romance lasted about a year, during which they collaborated on some musical projects, but then she broke it off. Rejected and hurt, Bowie put his emotions into a letter, but never sent it. Instead, he composed this beautiful song out of it.

I have no intentions of doing a stupid thing like trying to dissect and analyze this record. It speaks for itself, in the words of broken-hearted love.

The hand that wrote this letter
Sweeps the pillow clean
So rest your head and read a treasured dream
I care for no one else but you
I tear my soul to cease the pain
I think maybe you feel the same
What can we do?
I'm not quite sure what we're supposed to do
So I've been writing just for you

They say your life is going very well
They say you sparkle like a different girl
But something tells me that you hide
When all the world is warm and tired
You cry a little in the dark
Well so do I
I'm not quite sure what you're supposed to say
But I can see it's not okay

He makes you laugh
He brings you out in style
He treats you well
And makes you up real fine
And when he's strong
He's strong for you
And when you kiss
It's something new
But did you ever call my name
Just by mistake?
I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do
So I'll just write some love to you

The story is very obvious, and very sad. She left him, and found another lover. And, to add insult to injury, it seems that she's a lot happier now than she used to be with him. Our lad, who is still in love with her, can do nothing but comfort himself by imagining that deep down inside, she is still in love with him, and he is still the one.

This degree of candidness is amazing, considering that it comes from the man considered by many to be rock's greatest poseur. Bowie reveals himself to us in his most vulnerable and pathetic hour, and doesn't try to hide that he is talking about himself – it is right there in the record's title. The respect for his courage can only be matched with the admiration for his talent for expressing these emotions in words and singing.

Except… except that it all sounds a little too familiar. Haven't we heard this before? This is essentially the same story as 'When I Live My Dream', which Bowie recorded a year before he met Hermione. One can't help but wonder: is Bowie fooling us again, and using his personal life to write a song that make fun of self-centered lovers?

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