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1984: Finding Verse in Prose

What do George Orwell and David Bowie have in common?

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons License

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons License

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  “1984” by George Orwell was originally published in 1949. David Bowie was inspired by this book, thus releasing his song, “1984,” in “Diamond Dogs,” his 1974 album.

  Bowie intended for his song to be released as part of a musical based off of George Orwell’s novel, but it ultimately went unproduced because Orwell’s estate refused to give permission. Several other songs he had written for this musical are included on the second half of his record, including “Big Brother” and also “We Are the Dead.”

  Bowie’s “1984” revolves around the time Winston spends with O’Brien after he has been caught rebelling against Big Brother by admitting to hating the Party. Bowie references the months that Winston was being aggressively tortured and brainwashed by O’Brien in these two lines in particular: “They’ll split your pretty cranium, and fill it full of air/And tell that you’re eighty, but brother, you won’t care.”

  The combination of literature and music gives different insight to the same works; both Orwell’s and Bowie’s “1984” expand the idea of what a homogeneously thinking society would be like. That’s the beauty of any writing: what is said doesn’t matter as much as how it is said.

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1984: Finding Verse in Prose