"Candidate" as written by and David / Bowie....
I`ll make you a deal, like any other candidate
We`ll pretend we`re walking home `cause your future`s at stake
My set is amazing, it even smells like a street
There`s a bar at the end
Where I can meet you and your friend
Someone scrawled on the wall "I smell the blood of les tricoteuses"
Who wrote up scandals in other bars
I`m having so much fun with the poisonous people
Spreading rumors and lies and stories they made up
Some make you sing and some make you scream
One makes you wish that you`d never been seen
But there`s a shop on the corner that`s selling papier mache
Making bullet-proof faces, Charlie Manson, Cassius Clay
If you want it, boys, get it here, thing
So you scream out of line
"I want you! I need you! Anyone out there? Any time?"
Tres butch little number whines "Hey dirty, I want you
When it`s good, it`s really good, and when it`s bad I go to pieces"
If you want it, boys, get it here, thing
Well, on the street where you live I could not hold up my head
For I put all I have in another bed
On another floor, in the back of a car
In the cellar like a church with the door ajar
Well, I guess we`ve must be looking for a different kind
But we can`t stop trying `till we break up our minds
`Til the sun drips blood on the seedy young knights
Who press you on the ground while shaking in fright
I guess we could cruise down one more time
With you by my side, it should be fine
We`ll buy some drugs and watch a band
Then jump in the river holding hands


Lyrics submitted by saturnine

"Candidate" as written by David Bowie

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC, TINTORETTO MUSIC

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Candidate song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentThis is one of the key pieces of the first half of the album, which describes a gang of hedonistic nomads wandering around and living however they want and generally enjoying the lack of government (the first song, Future Legend, describes the destruction of society, presumably because of some nuclear holocaust). Eventually, when the narrative starts describing a brutal dictatorship which was inspired by the world of Orwell's '1984' one is left to assume that the wanderers, The Diamond Dogs, led some kind of assault against said government and were defeated. This is evidenced by the fact that Bowie cited the Burroughs novel 'Wild Boys' as a source of inspiration and the narrative is also very reminescent of 'Cities of the Red Night'. In both 'Wild Boys' and 'Cities of the Red Night' a semi-organized gang of rebels forming in the wake of the apocalypse attack a surviving all-powerful police state in the name of individual freedom. In both novels the gangs indulge freely and excessively in drugs and free love and in the first half of 'Diamond Dogs' this is also described (I suppose this is a rather dark take on 'free love' but I guess it still qualifies). The pace, mood and lyrics of 'Candidate' suggest the nihilistic behavior and the soul-deep boredom and jadedness that begets nihilism reaches an all-time high (or low) and after the brutal climax the narrator is pushed beyound the point of caring and mellows out. Afterword, in 'Rebel Rebel', one may suspect that a naive young person encounters the main character, sees what he is and falls in love with him for it (i.e mistaking his jadedness for worldliness?) or maybe the other way around (the burnt out tread falls in love with a young person's vigor and energy)...but I should save that for the 'Rebel Rebel' section.
    Mr. Murdockon June 12, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe candidate is a political figure trying to get elected for some high-ranking office, and he's setting everything up- "I'll make you a deal like any other candidate- we'll pretend you're walking home because your future's at stake..." The amazing set must be used to create scenes that look real and will help the candidate get into office, and the bar at the end with scandals written on the walls will help blacken the names of his opponents. What exactly the candidate is running for, and why these acted scenes and pretending to walk someone home will help him with the election, is ambiguous. I think the "you and your friend" are the narrator from Sweet Thing and his girlfriend/prostitute from that song.

    "Having so much fun with the poisonous people, spreading rumors and lies and stories they made up" is self-explanatory. Politicians are corrupt. The next lines describe the reactions to the lies/stories/rumors by the common people, and then I can't decipher what the next lines with "papier mache" are all about... But then it returns to the chant from Sweet Thing, and I think the girlfriend/prostitute has started selling sex to the candidates and elected officials because the boyfriend stopped paying attention to her because he was all caught up in the election and helping the candidate get into office. Feeling neglected, she shouts "I want you! I need you! Anyone out there? Any time?" A response comes from one of the poisonous people- "Hey, dirty, I want you..." and the deed is done.

    The last verse is odd... I think the male character found out about his girlfriend and reminds her of all the times she's been with him... on a floor, in the back of a car, in a cellar... He can't move on from her because he has put all he has "in another bed." He put his pain into her during Sweet Thing and cannot let go from emotional attachment. I don't know what the "different kind" they're looking for is (a new form of satisfaction? Replacing sexual comfort with political comfort?) The next line sounds like rape- "seedy young knights who press you to the ground while shaking in fright"- and then it returns to the romantic (like in Sweet Thing).
    EnduringChillon May 14, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have NO idea... aside from the obvious stuff - that politics is a seedy earthy world of souless ghouls.

    I love side A of Diamond Dogs.
    coo2kachooon June 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've heard this song (and loved it) a lot, but i just now read the lyrics. creepy.

    Let's see here, the opening part sounds like a set up, (it even smells like a street) where he's doing something or other. The second part sounds like he's hanging out with a bad group. the last part sounds like a list of places he has had sex.

    I don't know. i think it's random
    scimitar_255on July 25, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust re-read lyrics and did a search on "les tricoteuses". I got:

    "During the French Revolution, when guillotine was a staple of public life, a group of women known as les tricoteuses became famous for knitting while they watched the beheadings. The image is often used to symbolize how numb the French people had become to the grisly executions. But this research suggests that the women may have been undisturbed by the guillotine because they knit, not the other way around."

    Who knew David Bowie lyrics could be educational?!
    coo2kachooon August 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think DIAMOND DOGS is one of the most underrated albums of all time. Because it was surrounded by such brilliance in Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory and Station to Station it seems like critics have disregarded this album. I think that is unfairly dismissive because not only are the songs amazingly creative (plus he played all the guitar parts and produced it himself) but the overall album evokes a conceptual unity that would have been considered genius by any other 70's artist. CANDIDATE perfectly encapsules the album's motif with it's decadant words that just drip with the sense of chaotic hedonism. The song seems to be an almost Day-in-the-Life of a street hustler. There's an air of political corruption laced with sexual depraviation. It's all very apocolyptic (going with the proposed 1984 adaptation) and rem,inds me alot of the work of William S. Burroughs. I think it's also worth noting his without shame mention of the word "Drugs" -- it's almost as if the ineveitability of the situation that he is in has led him to abandon all codewords and metaphors. And the line is utterly suicidal-glam "We'll buy some drugs and watch a band. We'll jump in a river holding hands"
    davidbeauyon October 22, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe music builds like a painting, very artistic in feel - compliments the lyrics well
    nagromnaion December 20, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think David is also reflecting on his position as a writer:
    I'm having so much fun
    With the poisonous people
    Spreading rumours and lies
    And stories they made up

    I think this is refering to the media. Also the line 'My set is amazing
    It even smells like a street' seems to be adressing Bowie's knack for constructing himself i.e. his 'set.' Diamond Dogs is truly a masterpiece.
    NewKillerStaron April 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm not really sort what Bowie was getting at with the whole Sweet Thing cycle but it is incredibly moody, isn't it? Powerful stuff.
    Bonehead XLon June 02, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMr. Murdock hits the nail on the head. You have to hear and understand the situation in Future Legend to understand Candidate. Of course the world of Diamond Dogs a quite a bit seedier and (ie given over to the Dogs) than the Orewell 1984 book. Poetic license. Masterful use of the words as they match the dirty sax and guitar - played by Bowie himself. A hugely underrated album. In the stage show Bowie had the "street" incorporated in the set and he sang this while leaning on a bacony on the set.
    Motown1on December 29, 2007   Link

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