Warszawa (6:21)

Cover of Control

From Control and 13 other releases

“Warszawa” is a mostly instrumental song by David Bowie, co-written with Brian Eno and originally released in 1977 on the album Low.

The arrangement is meant to evoke the desolation of Warsaw at the time of Bowie’s visit in 1973. The mysterious lyrics and the piece of melody in the middle part of the song are based upon a recording of a Polish folk choir “Śląsk”. Probably this theme based on the melody and words of the old Polish Silesian song “Helokanie”, recorded in advance by choir “Śląsk”. However, there is no information about this, and it remains more or less unanswered.

The piece was developed using many of Eno’s spontaneous and deeply experimental techniques, with Bowie choosing the creation of a texture over creating a piece that fit in context with his other songs. Resorting to Eno’s techniques of “planned accidents,” first a click track of 430 clicks was created by hand. From these clicks, a few were selected at random and catalogued. Eno and Bowie would each wait for their randomly selected clicks to sound, which would cue them to play a chord. When the clicks were removed, the song’s basic skeleton of chord changes remained, and the gaps were filled by their writing, with Eno on instrumentals and Bowie on vocals.

All vocals were composed and performed entirely by Bowie, despite the presence of 110 voices. Eno remarked that despite his tendency to work slowly as his own synthesizer technician, Bowie managed to complete his portion of the track rather quickly, recording all his voices in 20 minutes.

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