Day after day
They send my friends away
To mansions cold and grey
To the far side of town
Where the thin men stalk the streets
While the sane stay underground

Day after day
They tell me I can go
They tell me I can blow
To the far side of town
Where it's pointless to be high
'Cause it's such a long way down

So I tell them that
I can fly, I will scream, I will break my arm
I will do me harm
Here I stand, foot in hand, talking to my wall
I'm not quite right at all, am I?

Don't set me free, I'm as heavy as can be
Just my librium and me
And my E.S.T. makes three

'Cause I'd rather stay here
With all the madmen
Than perish with the sad men roaming free
And I'd rather play here
With all the madmen
For I'm quite content they're all as sane
As me

(Where can the horizon lie
When a nation hides
Its organic minds
In a cellar, dark and grim
They must be very dim)

Day after day
They take some brain away
Then turn my face around
To the far side of town
And tell me that it's real
Then ask me how I feel

Here I stand, foot in hand, talking to my wall
I'm not quite right at all

Don't set me free, I'm as helpless as can be
My libido's split on me
Gimme some good 'ole lobotomy

'Cause I'd rather stay here
With all the madmen
Than perish with the sad men
Roaming free
And I'd rather play here
With all the madmen
For I'm quite content
They're all as sane as me

Zane, zane, zane
Ouvre le chien
Zane, zane, zane
Ouvre le chien
Zane, zane, zane (ah ah ah)
Ouvre le chien
Zane, zane, zane (ah ah ah)
Ouvre le chien
Zane, zane, zane (ah ah ah)
Ouvre le chien
Zane, zane, zane (ah ah ah)
Ouvre le chien
Zane, zane, zane (ah ah ah)
Ouvre le chien
Zane, zane, zane (ah ah ah)
Ouvre le chien
Zane, zane, zane (ah ah ah)
Ouvre le chien
Zane, zane, zane (ah ah ah)
Ouvre le chien


Lyrics submitted by scottathon1

All the Madmen Lyrics as written by David Bowie

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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All the Madmen song meanings
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19 Comments

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  • +4
    General Comment

    Mr. Tony Visconti was kind enough to explain "Zane Zane Zane, Ouvre le chien" to me in an email. I quote: "Originally it was going to be "Open the door" in English, but I suggested "Open the dog" in French. THis was because we were talking about a Salvator Dali film called "Le Chein Andalou" where they opened up someone's eyeball with a straight razor. Zane is just a name."

    ixtapavangoghon August 10, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    It's about his brother, committed to an asylum in South East London (Cane Hill).

    Libraquariuson October 12, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    id rather be "sane" in an asylum than be a sadman free

    sydbarretton August 31, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Back in 1982 our high school graduating class was given a couple days to submit a short comment or quote or ambition to put under our year book photo.

    90% of the people put in: to be successful in all my endeavors or something like that.

    The best one was Isaac Finklestein's (going to some school in Ohio on a music scholarship): "To be the pianist on the Mr. Rogers show."

    Since I had to be different, I poured over the Bowie lyrics of my vinyl Bowie collection and came up with: "To be as heavy as can be, just my librium and me, and my E. S. T. make three."

    Now that I look at the lyrics again...what is this about? Even though not on Diamond Dogs/1984/future apolypse album...I see it as Bowie picturing himself in Orwell's dystopia.

    How about this for whatever:

    chlordiazepoxide (librium) is indicated for the relief of acute agitation and hyperactivity (e.g., alcoholism, anxiety, hysterical and panic states, drug withdrawal symptoms) when rapid action is required or oral administration is not feasible.

    Coo2kachoo (me) in highschool (apparently unconsciously pscychic) was dabbling but far from an alcoholic. 12 years later, a raving alcoholic - managed to escape, but unaided by librium or electric shock treatment.

    Before the escape, I did not want to be set free from my "state" (until the end)...it was not induced by e.s.t. or librium, but beer, tequila, pot, coke, and the stray hallucinogen.

    I guess I ended up "heavy as can be" with my oh-so-valuable-degree in philosophy...

    So my silly non-sense "ambition" in the high school year book came crookedly true.

    wooo hooo

    coo2kachooon August 09, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    i also appreciated the story of coo2kachoo. found it very honest and funny too :);)

    the first comment on this page about one of the greatest bowie songs is just bullshit. i just didnt see ANY clues, guiding to holocaust...

    my opinion about the song is, that it reflects bowies attitude towards soul asylums, in an ambivalent way. on the one hand, he never gave himself in the hands of psychiatric help at all, on the other hand, in this song, he shows feelings, that reflect a open minded attitude. so to say, he idealizes the life and the people in asylums, as self opted parias. flavor this, with some personal history about his brother and i think, you have the meaning. at least an interesting meaning ;)

    thehexmanon May 24, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    ouvre le chien? a vague reference un chien andalou? bowie seems like the type who would like the surrealist film.. open the surrealist attitude, open the insanity, open your unconscious mind.. just a thought..

    a1addinsaneon June 23, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I always thought that Bowie is talking about the "oh-so-righteous" people who will judge anybody that tries something different, dress differently, etc. People who would loathe rock n` roll, of any behaviour or attitude that strays from the "righteous/sane path". At least, thats what I get from the chorus, that he would rather stay with the insane than with the sane sad people :

    'Cause I'd rather stay here With all the madmen Than perish with the sad men roaming free

    cfinkelon September 20, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    about the holocaust, i'm guessing, and the horrible experiments the jews were subjected to, resulting in loss of sanity (among other things).

    not sure what the last two lines translate too, "Zane, Zane, Zane, Ouvre le Chien"

    my fave song on Man Who Sold the World

    paranoidandroid83on May 09, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    "Zane Zane Zane Ouvre le chien" translates to "Zane Zane Zane Open the dog". Now what that means, I don't know.

    jimmymikeon January 28, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Libraquarious is right. It's about his brother. Great song.

    Nuclear.Skyon December 21, 2005   Link

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