David Bowie’s writing technique
Bowie used a system of cut ups to generate ideas and lyrics – literally cutting up texts, books and diaries, he revealed in interviews with Alan Yentob.
“If you put thee or four disassociated ideas together… the unconscious intelligence that comes from that is…quite provocative,” he said.
The cut up technique originated with the Dada art movement in the 1920s and became popular in the 1950s with William S Burroughs. Bowie eventually had a computer program designed to help him generate masses of quick-fire ideas to inspire his lyrics.
He also used to input passages from other author’s books, he admitted – and sometimes selected the passages generated “verbatim”, or selected part of a randomised sentence generated by the program.
Writers arrive on planet earth is all shapes and sizes and styles, but the most revolutionary – and evolutionary – tap into the alternative reality inside our minds to show us who we are and who we could be.
Bowie did exactly this, set to music, with a strong accompanying image – and then some.
We should be sad at his loss, but inspired by his lead.
Cold fire, you’ve got everything but cold fire
You will be my rest and peace, child
I moved up to take a place
The Prettiest Star
You can see the Alan Yentob documentary and interview with David Bowie at BBC Arts.