Meet David Bowie’s Epic “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)”

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 10.13.14 in News

What to make a song of named “Sue”? David Bowie teased the premiere of his new single — the full title is “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)” — with social media posts of snippets from the lyrics. When BBC Radio 6‘s Guy Garvey introduced the track, it was almost as if he was talking about a person: “Ladies and gentlemen, David Bowie and ‘Sue’…” In fact, it wouldn’t too much of a stretch to think about the new song, from Bowie’s upcoming Nothing Has Changed compilation, as its own character, and if so it’s as mercurial and grandiose as the doomed romantic intrigue the words describe.

Scott Walker comes to mind as Bowie croons theatrically amid seven-plus minutes of roiling, pensive free jazz. The rock icon, who’s the subject of a current museum retrospective and last year released surprise new album The Next Day, recorded Sue over the summer with the Maria Schneider Orchestra. Nothing Has Changed has a U.S. release date of November 18, and “Sue” will also be available as a Record Store Day “Back to Black Friday” single, backed with another new song. All the more material for Jessica Lange to cover on American Horror Story: Freak Show? In a sense, Bowie’s songs, like so many of the best ones, have been like characters all along.

“Sue (Or in a Season Of Crime)”

Sue, I got the job
We’ll buy the house
You’ll need to rest
But now we’ll make it

Sue, the clinic called
The x-ray’s fine
I brought you home
I just said home

Sue, you said you wanted writ
“Sue the virgin” on your stone
For your grave

Why too dark to speak the words?
For I know that you have a son
Oh, folly, Sue

Ride the train I’m far from home
In a season of crime none need atone
I kissed your face

Sue, I pushed you down beneath the weeds
Endless faith in hopeless deeds
I kissed your face
I touched your face
Sue, Good-bye

Sue, I found your note
That you wrote last night
It can’t be right
You went with him

Sue, I never dreamed
I’m such a fool
Right from the start
You went with that clown