"The Man Who Sold the World" as written by and David Bowie....
We passed upon the stair, we spoke of was and when
Although I wasn't there, he said I was his friend
Which came as some surprise I spoke into his eyes
I thought you died alone, a long long time ago

Oh no, not me
I never lost control
You're face to face
With The Man Who Sold The World

I laughed and shook his hand, and made my way back home
I searched for form and land, for years and years I roamed
I gazed a gazely stare at all the millions here
We must have died along, a long long time ago

Who knows? Not me
We never lost control
You're face to face
With the Man who Sold the World

Lyrics submitted by magicnudiesuit, edited by Attap, BillIamBillIam

"The Man Who Sold the World" as written by David Bowie


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The Man Who Sold the World song meanings
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  • +16
    General CommentI think that it goes like this:

    Bowie meets an old friend ( alcoholic, addict, somebody that stayed in the hood ).

    Although he ( Bowie ) was not there for a long time, this man calls him a friend, which suprises Bowie a lot, since he has been away for long time.

    Bowie tells this man to his eyes that he thought that this man has died a long time ago, knowing abut his sin. This man responses that he always had control ( over his addiction I suppose ), but he feels like failure after all ( he sold his career, his world, his everything )

    Now, Bowie shakes his hand, smiles politely, and goes away.

    After that, Bowie is travelling a lot, looking at millions of people, and then he realizes that we are the ones that have sold the world, we have died alone, and sold everything ( our worlds ) when we sold our dreams and became grown ups.


    Here in Serbia, we have a saying that goes something like: " God bless the man that goes crazy early in the life, at least he spends his life in joy ". To me, this song has a lot to do with it

    That is just how I see it :)
    vlada021on January 15, 2010   Link
  • +5
    General CommentThe song name-checks (to use a term decades in its future) the Robert Heinlein story The Man Who Sold the Moon about a business man, one Harriman, who puts together the financing for the first lunar expedition. In a subsequent story, the old Harriman has never got to the Moon, and bribes a barnstorming rocket jockey who flies people to orbit and back (this is by analogy with '20s- and '30s-era pilots who would do something similar at county fairs and the like) to bring him there---he's too old and in too bad shape to be allowed an official trip. I think of this when I hear 'I thought you died alone, a long long time ago'---Harriman is never depicted as a particularly nice or warm man, just one who got things done and didn't crave the limelight, and so I can easily image the pilot's believing that he (Harriman) had died alone awhile back.

    I'm a bit sceptical about all the heaven and hell stuff, for the simple reason that Bowie never seemed to care about that sort of thing that much...you need remember that back a few decades, when Bowie was coming up, the more rationalist among us, of whom D.B. is one, really believed that we had superstition on the run. Growing up, if you had told me that in the U.S. people would be fighting over teaching standard biology in our classrooms unto this day, I would have thought you were crazy. Admittedly, Heinlein might have bought that, as he grew up around Bible-thumpers even though he never was one, and understood the deep American need to be conned....we'll fall for anyone who claims he can sell us a ticket to heaven, or the Moon, or the World.
    GeraldFnordon June 02, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis is a kind of metaphoric meaning, but I always kind of thought of it like he was taking to himself, sort of, like a past self. He has a conversation with a younger version of himself, and they're talking about his life and such.
    c_o_c_oon May 29, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentKurt did a really good job covering this song.

    My interpretation is that the song is about fascism rising again. Hitler spoke of an Ayran "master race", and maybe Bowie is talking about the sort of feelings that led to the creation of fascist regimes coming to the for eonce more
    Gvilleneuve_27on September 07, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Commentyou're a huge idiot if you're an idiot who's 9 feet tall and 500 pounds
    plaincl0thesmanon July 25, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI agree that the song's meaning is in line with the theme of the album of an alien super-race. But I also think that there is a more indirect meaning involving people who are lost and trying to find who they are and what their purpose is. For instance, he makes his way home and roams for years in foreign land but never actually makes it home. There's is also a kind of sarcastic, "in denial" element to the chorus "oh no, not me, i never lost control" after which he laughs and also the "who knows, not me" which i really think says it all. It's intended to be dreamy and vague, kind of a wandering journey with no clear meaning. A good allegory for life in general.
    TKallionzon May 25, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwhoops...

    anyway, when you listen to it with "all the madmen", "savior machine", "the supermen" and the rest of the album, it seems like this "super race" once gave up earth to live on another planet. it's really ambiguous, but i think that is what it is getting at.
    ramtharon May 01, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhat a great song. On first look at the lyrics I thought it was reference to the Bible (the last verse anyway). Wasn't Adam and Eve cast out of the Garden of Eden? Thus selling the world, then roaming for years and years. Following on from that I thought it was told through the eyes of God (giving up on the planet to the Devil but never really losing control) or a creator race (which would tie in with the rest of the album, as ramthar mentioned). I have many more interpretations, but those were the most far-fetched ;) More probably a cynical/regretful look on the motivations of today's society.

    I love the song, just think it's much better when its toned down (like minus the cheese-graters), brings out the desperation of the lyrics and tune, exemplifying the vacancy of many lines like "I gazed a gazely stare".
    scholesyon June 24, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love David Bowie. He's such a mindblowingly original artist.
    turboloveron November 22, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYou're a huge jackass if you judge others for their opinions.
    Ted Bannanaon July 21, 2005   Link

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