Quicksand (David Bowie song)

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Song by David Bowie
from the album Hunky Dory
Released17 December 1971
Recorded14 July 1971
StudioTrident, London
Songwriter(s)David Bowie
Producer(s)Ken Scott, David Bowie

"Quicksand" is a song written by English singer-songwriter David Bowie and released on his 1971 album Hunky Dory.


"Quicksand" was recorded on 14 July 1971 at Trident Studios in London.[3] This ballad features multi-tracked acoustic guitars and a string arrangement by Mick Ronson. Producer Ken Scott, having recently engineered George Harrison's album All Things Must Pass, attempted to create a similarly powerful acoustic sound with this track.[4]

Bowie said of the song "The chain reaction of moving around throughout the bliss and then the calamity of America produced this epic of confusion. Anyway with my esoteric problems I could have written it in Plainview or Dulwich" and that it was a mixture of "narrative and surrealism".[5]

Lyrically the song, like much of Bowie's work at this time, was influenced by Buddhism, occultism, and Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of the Superman.[6] It refers to the magical society Golden Dawn and name-checks one of its most famous members, Aleister Crowley, as well as Heinrich Himmler, Winston Churchill and Juan Pujol (codename: Garbo).[7]


NME editors Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray have described it as "Bowie in his darkest and most metaphysical mood",[6] while a contemporary review in Rolling Stone remarked on its "superb singing" and "beautiful guitar motif from Mick Ronson".[8]

Live performances[edit]

Bowie performed the song during his 1997 Earthling Tour. A live recording from one show on 20 July 1997, recorded at Long Marston, England during the Phoenix Festival, was released in a live album entitled Look at the Moon! in February 2021.[9] Bowie performed the song occasionally during his 2003-04 A Reality Tour.

Bowie performed the song at his 50th birthday concert in 1997 along with Robert Smith of The Cure[5]

Other releases[edit]

The song was released as the B-side of the single "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" in April 1974. RCA included the song in the picture disc set Life Time. A studio demo version of the song was released as a bonus track on the Rykodisc release of Hunky Dory in 1990. A November 1996 tour rehearsal recording of the song, which originally aired on a BBC radio broadcast in 1997, was released in 2020 on the album ChangesNowBowie.[10]



  1. ^ "The Top 150 Albums of the '70s". Treble. 12 August 2019. Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  2. ^ Wawzenek, Bryan (11 January 2016). "David Bowie Albums Ranked Worst to Best". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  3. ^ Kevin Cann (2010). Any Day Now - David Bowie: The London Years: 1947-1974: pp.223-224
  4. ^ David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story: p.115
  5. ^ a b Pegg, Nicholas. The Complete David Bowie. p. 181.
  6. ^ a b Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.41
  7. ^ David Sheppard (2007). "Wishful Beginnings", MOJO 60 Years of Bowie: p.24
  8. ^ John Mendelsohn (6 January 1972). "Hunky Dory". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 27 January 2007.
  9. ^ Kreps, Daniel (29 January 2021). "David Bowie's 'Brilliant Live Adventures' Series Continues With 1997 Festival Gig". Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  10. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (25 April 2020). "ChangesNowBowie – David Bowie". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 29 April 2020. Retrieved 1 December 2020.


Pegg, Nicholas, The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-14-5

External links[edit]