David Bowie's Failed Attempt to Adapt George Orwell's '1984'

Rolling Stone

George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 worked its way into countless high school lit syllabi since it was released in 1949, outlining a brave new world ruled by strict government surveillance and, even more disturbing, mind control of its denizens. It's a story that never quite went away...

...Bowie wanted a televised musical  – or so he told William S. Burroughs in a 1974 Rolling Stone interview. His album Diamond Dogs, which dropped that same year, featured the straight-forward "1984," with lines like, "They'll split your pretty cranium, and fill it full of air/ And tell that you're 80, but brother, you won't care," highlighting the novel's revisionism themes and totalitarian government. Other tracks like "Big Brother" and "We Are The Dead" double down on the artist's fascination not just with Orwell's futuristic society, but Surrealism and Dada (which makes his timely interview with the post-modern author all the more fascinating).

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