All The Madmen
The Man Who Sold The World, 1970
Musically schizophrenic, All The Madmen was, as Bowie clarified in 1971, “written for my brother and it’s about my brother”. In 1969, Bowie’s half-brother Terry Burns, who’d been an enormous formative influence, introducing young David to modern jazz and ‘beat’ writer Jack Kerouac, was confined to South London’s Cane Hill asylum, and his predicament marked The Man Who Sold The World. Here Bowie’s narrative reflects on the parallels between the ‘mad’ and the nonconformist before concluding that ‘all the madmen’ are ‘just as sane as me’. Dramatic, intense, full of nagging themes, Madmen, complete with its nonsensical coda, nodded toward imminent brilliance.