Rebel Rebel is the first of the songs this week that I didn’t hear until after Bowie’s death, back when Spotify pushed a Bowie playlist to help people discover his musical talents. This was one of the songs I heard as a result, along with Changes, which I really like, even if it isn’t on the playlist this week.
I think the song is about someone rebelling against the stereotypical norms that society places upon men and women, both back then and now. My evidence for this? The title, and the first verse.
You’ve got your mother in a whirl
She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl
Hey babe, your hair’s alright
Hey babe, let’s go out tonight
You like me, and I like it all
We like dancing and we look divine
You love bands when they’re playing hard
You want more and you want it fast
They put you down, they say I’m wrong
You tacky thing, you put them on
It’s upbeat, it’s glam, apparently, and it’s the kind of thing you just want to bop along to. I’m enjoying listening to the music, and whilst it features Bowie’s trademark superb voice, it’s not about his voice here, it’s about the guitar. It’s all about the guitar. It’s the kind of guitar you can’t not bop to, not air-guitar to, not do-do-do-do-do to.