"Conversation Piece" as written by and David Bowie David Robert Jones....
I took this walk to ease my mind
To find out what's gnawing at me
Wouldn't think, to look at me,
that I've spent a lot of time in education
It all seems so long ago
I'm a thinker, not a talker
I've no-one to talk to, anyway

I can't see the road
for the rain in my eyes

I live above the grocers store,
owned by an Austrian
He often calls me down to eat
And he jokes about his broken English,
tries to be a friend to me
But for all my years of reading conversation,
I stand without a word to say

I can't see the bridge
for the rain in my eyes
Ahhh-huh, h...uh, huh

And the world is full of life
Full of folk who don't know me
And they walk in twos or threes or more
While the light that shines above the grocer's store
investigates my face so rudely
And my essays lying scattered on the floor
Fulfill their needs just by being there
And my hands shake, my head hurts,
my voice sticks inside my throat
I'm invisible and dumb,
no-one will recall me

And I can't see the water
through the tears in my ey-y-yes


Lyrics submitted by merchantpierce

Conversation Piece song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentThis is the first song I'm commenting.

    This song is about someone who lacks of social contact, and he finds it hard to communicate with people cause he's just "invisible and dumb". On a rainy day he decides to end his tragic life by jumping from a bridge into the water.

    Oh, its such a sad song. Beautiful!
    Ziggy88on June 13, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is a first person narrative. He's taking a walk on a rainy night, to find out what about his life is bugging him. He's wasted so much of his life on education, which he feels he never needed. He's a thinker, not a talker, but he doesn't have anybody to talk to anyways. In London, above shops, there are often small apartments one can live in. He lives above a grocer's store. The owner invites him to dinner, and tries to joke with him, and make him feel better. He comes back to reality, and stops before a bridge. HE thinks about how many people are in the world, and how little he matters the the world. They don't know him, so they won't miss him. Everybody has a friend but him. He reflects again on his "wasted" education, that his essays are where they need to be; on the floor. His hands are shaking ,and his head is throbbing as he walks toward the bridge. He's telling himself that nobody will miss him, that he's doing the world a favor. He jumps from the bridge, and his eyes are full of tears as he drowns himself, ending his own life. It truly is a very sad song, and it has a huge effect on me, and I'm sure, a lot of others. I recommend it very highly. It was one of David's first 3 songs, the other two being Silly Boy Blue and You've Got a Habit Of Leaving. While the original version of this song is good, the 2001 rerecording is a work of art.
    Shiggyon March 19, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionThe version of this on the Heathen Bonus CD is so painfully beautiful! Even just reading the lyrics on here sends shivers through me. Its so emotive.
    doctorhoaxon November 11, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is the first song im commenting too! I love this song, one of my favorites
    k_kintanoon August 26, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWow, never heard this song, but im gonna try to find it, so sad.
    Deaftoallon August 20, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song, I think, is pretty self-explanatory, and I really like Shiggy's explanation. I think just about everyone at some point in their lives has felt like this, maybe not to the suicidal aspect of it. I actually never saw that way of looking at it until I read the comments on here, but it does make a whole lot of sense. It saddens me to think these thoughts, for the sake of art or in the form of actual feelings, were in Bowie's mind at anytime. "I'm invisible and dumb, no-one will recall me" - if he only knew! Which is why his updated version of the song is a bit more haunting.
    iamanalligatoron July 10, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti agree with ziggy. this song is about someone who is shy. he is "a thinker, not a talker", so social interactions are difficult for him (as mentioned with his neighbor). i think the line "while the light that shines above the grocer's store investigates my face so rudely" could be about a number of things. it could be about him being kept awake by his thoughts at night, but blaming it on the light keeping him awake (although thats a bit of a stretch). it could also be about feeling self-conscious. to whoever thought feeling invisible and being self-conscious is a contradiction....you've clearly never experienced shyness. when you have social anxiety, it's easy to feel both invisible (do to your inability to make friends) and judged (which is the reason for the anxiety in the first place). by the way i don't think it's raining outside...i think the rain is always referring to his tears. and yeah, he jumps off the bridge at the end. really, really, sad song.
    deerMAUSon July 17, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe lyrics are self explanatory, but the question for me is whether Bowie wrote this song from the perspective of a fictional character or himself. Obviously Bowie didn't kill himself so from that argument you could say it's from a character viewpoint. Also it's well known that Bowie is able to create and write songs from the perspective of made up characters. However, I'm not sure if he actually lived above and Austrian's grocery store, but if he didn't, the idea of placing false details into the song sounds like a strategy to prevent people from assuming the song's about Bowie himself. I mean, there's a lot of emotional and observational detail in this song that would be too difficult to come up with alone without experiencing it. I relate to this song immensely, so the idea that Bowie actually felt like an outcast wrote a song about it sounds lovely to me.
    ettiemusson November 20, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me the song depicts the insecurities that a depressed-anxious person goes through, the feeling of inadequacy, of awkwardness, of how the person didn't have the passion or strength to do the things he once loved. He can't figure it out and he was unable to call for help. In the end, he chooses suicide.

    "I took this walk to ease my mind
    To find out what's gnawing at me
    Wouldn't think, to look at me,
    that I've spent a lot of time in education
    It all seems so long ago
    I'm a thinker, not a talker
    I've no-one to talk to, anyway"

    An introvert person who feels inadequate. He spent a lot of time in education, yet from his perception, those who look at him probably think he's stupid for not being articulate, or awkward, and he doesn't look like someone too bright. In most traditional education systems one of the aspects they try to develop on us is social skills and speaking skills, so leaving school/university without feeling confident on that aspect is kind of depressing. Especially when you feel you only got worse on that.

    "I live above the grocers store,
    owned by an Austrian
    He often calls me down to eat
    And he jokes about his broken English,
    tries to be a friend to me
    But for all my years of reading conversation,
    I stand without a word to say"

    He wants to have friends. He appreciates the man's efforts but he still feels inadequate, he feels that whatever he says will be judged. He has read lots of books, novels, anything; he knows what a conversation should be like, but he simply can't find the words to reply. He doesn't know why he feels so inadequate and it bothers him so much.

    "And the world is full of life
    Full of folk who don't know me
    And they walk in twos or threes or more
    While the light that shines above the grocer's store
    investigates my face so rudely"

    The world is full of people who know nothing about him, his education or his awkwardness. He'd like to take a second chance at life and make brand new friends to make up for the ones he could never keep, but he feels he's getting old (it all seem so long ago) and everyone already has their pairs and groups of friends set in stone - how could he possibly find a breach to fit in? And every time he tries, he wish he didn't, because when people do notice him, he feels awkward, he feels like being alone: "the light that shines above the grocer's store investigate my face so rudely".

    "And my essays lying scattered on the floor
    Fulfill their needs just by being there
    And my hands shake, my head hurts,
    my voice sticks inside my throat
    I'm invisible and dumb,
    no-one will recall me"

    The only things he ever felt adequate for, writing and thinking, he now feels that are actually useless because no one would ever read or be interested in them. He now feels like even the things he once loved to do, he's not good anymore or he was never good to begin with. He feels a weight above him that erases everything he ever was, and why would anyone remember a good-for-nothing like him? He'd better "go away" unnoticed too.

    "I can't see the road
    for the rain in my eyes
    (...)
    I can't see the bridge
    for the rain in my eyes
    (...)
    I can't see the water
    for the tears in my eyes"

    During this walk and all this thinking, he was trying not to cry and pretend it was just the rain. He was trying to think a way out of the situation, trying to figure why was it that he felt like this, at the same time that he knew exactly where he was headed to. He probably thought about suicide way before taking the walk, but would never do it. This time he did.
    DaniCaridwenon August 11, 2016   Link
  • -2
    General CommentI believe that taking his own life may be looked upon

    on one hand as cowardly, to give up on life

    & on the other as brave and heroic, to accept he is a nothing and useless, & to accept that this is the end and there is no more hope & to stop constantly fooling himself into pretending that there is hope, & also to carry out the act of committing suicide requires some guts. It may have been in his eyes the only brave act he will ever get to do.

    I conclude that if he truly believes he is worthless & knows it for a fact, then perhaps there is little to be said for continuing on, as he would be merely existing. His only thrills in life may be from eating, getting drunk, pondering on the past, ect. all of which are unhealthy for the mind. This would only serve to make him more introverted.
    Floyddeadon September 09, 2010   Link

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