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The Width of a Circle – (Song Lyric Sunday)

The Man who Sold the World was the third album of Bowie’s that I acquired but not until the late 70s. The first was ChangesOne, the second, Young American’s – I loved them both. But this one blew me away. The Width of a Circle is my all time favourite tune by anyone. I am not sure why that is – I think it might be the structure of the music, combined with the memories of teenage angst. I would have been 16 when I found this.

“The Width Of A Circle” is the opening track. At eight minutes’ length, it is the longest track on the album and one of the longest studio tracks in Bowie’s discography. The song is divided into three different sections: the first is built around a heavy riff from Mick Ronson; the second is slower, instrumental section; the third is another hard rock part, finishing with a callback to the second section.

The most widely recognised interpretation of the lyrics is that they describe a sexual affair between Bowie and a male divinity, which takes place in Hell, although it is unknown whether he is referring to God, the Devil or some other powerful being. Some lyrics are also suggestive of his wild changes of image and persona and his redefining of his sexuality and masculinity.

Source Genius Lyrics

The album was released in 1970. Homosexuality had been made legal just three years previously in the UK, it is not so surprising that Bowie would make his take it on it. He has ridden on the back of other trends after all.

I found this remastered BBC Radio session on YouTube – it is a slightly different version to the album track, a little shorter but well worth the listen. If you are interested in more information about the making of The Width of a Circle, check out WordPress blogger, Chris O’Leary Pushing Ahead of the Dame.

In the corner of the morning in the past
I would sit and blame the master first and last
All the roads were straight and narrow
And the prayers were small and yellow
And the rumour spread that I was aging fast
Then I ran across a monster who was sleeping by a tree.

And I looked and frowned and the monster was me

Well, I said hello and I said hello
And I asked “Why not?” and I replied “I don’t know”
So we asked a simple black bird, who was happy as can be

And he laughed insane and quipped “KAHLIL GIBRAN”
So I cried for all the others till the day was nearly through
For I realized that God’s a young man too

So I said “So long” and I waved “Bye-bye”
And I smashed my soul and traded my mind

Got laid by a young bordello
I was vaguely half asleep
For which my reputation swept back home in drag

And the moral of this magic spell
Negotiates my hide
When God did take my logic for a ride
(Riding along)

He swallowed his pride and puckered his lips
And showed me the leather belt round his hips
My knees were shaking my cheeks aflame
He said “You’ll never go down to the Gods again”
(Turn around, go back!)

He struck the ground a cavern appeared
And I smelt the burning pit of fear
We crashed a thousand yards below
I said “Do it again, do it again”
(Turn around, go back!)

His nebulous body swayed above
His tongue swollen with devil’s love
The snake and I, a venom high
I said “Do it again, do it again”
(Turn around, go back!)

Breathe, breathe, breathe deeply

And I was seething, breathing deeply
Spitting sentry, horned and tailed

Waiting for you

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: David Bowie

The Width of a Circle lyrics © Tintoretto Music, Chrysalis Music Ltd

Post inspired by Jim’s Song Lyric Sunday Prompt – This week we have the prompts; Circle/Polygon/Square/Triangle. Click through for the rules if you too would like to join in …

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is song-lyric-sunday-1.png

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels


  1. I grew up in the 80s and that wasn’t my favorite period…while my friends were listening to Ratt…I was listening to The Beatles, Who, Stones, and Kinks.

    I did like Tin Machine

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep – I do have Tin Machine on LP – but I did struggle with both. Maybe cos I didn’t listen to them enough. Bowie’s music is not a seldom listen like, which is why (in my opinion) his later music is less popular. I so love Outside, Heathen and The Next Day. To be continued …


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