David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ And The Berlin Wall Concert That Made German Officials Salute The Thin White Duke On His Death

Zachary Volkert - Author
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Dec. 27 2017, Updated 2:56 a.m. ET

David Bowie’s “Heroes” is one of the most beloved of the artist’s massive catalog worldwide, but, for many Germans, the tale of forbidden Berlin Wall love is much more than a brilliant track. It’s symbolic of a time period when rock and roll was a form of protest, and David was one its most emblematic revolutionaries — especially in post-World War II Germany.

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“Heroes” has been covered, re-worked, and played on airwaves and streaming services so many times that it’s taken on a life of its own — even outside of its political content. No matter how many times it’s been played in a bar at 3 a.m. or on a car radio driving to work at six in the morning, Bowie’s classic tale of lovers trapped on opposing sides of the Berlin Wall is the definition of emotive rock music: every single second of “Heroes” rips at the heart, and, perhaps most impressively, every time it plays, it’s able to elicit that same emotion.

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Partially, that may be because David was living intimately with his subject matter. “Heroes” landed on the album of the same name right in the center of his Berlin Trilogy. Bowie moved to West Berlin in 1976 in order to shake a crippling drug addiction and seek new creative influences. Working with two of his closest collaborators, Brian Eno and Iggy Pop, he began work on the set of albums inspired by the Berlin Wall and his life in the divided city.

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