Australian charts: 1974
According to biographer Marc Spitz, the lyrics of “Rebel Rebel” revisit familiar Bowie territory, featuring “a ‘hot’ young ‘tramp’ worrying his or her parents with his or her sexy nihilism”, are reflected by the line “You got a few lines and a handful of ‘ludes’.” Even though the world is ending, the “Rebel” doesn’t care, suggesting “we like dancing and we look divine.” It also features gender-bending lyrics (“You got your mother in a whirl / She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl”).
This song is about a boy who rebels against his parents by wearing makeup and tacky women’s clothes. It was a defining song of the “Glam Rock” era. Characterized by feminine clothes and outrageous stage shows, Glam was big in England in the early ’70s. Bowie had the most mainstream success of the glam rockers.
Rebel Rebel peaked at no 18 on the Go-Set National Top 40 in June 1974.
This song is also on our Spotify playlist.
Rockin’ 1000 is “the Biggest Rock Band on Earth!” 1000 musicians in one stadium in 2016 doing Bowie’s Rebel Rebel. It’s sensational!
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