Skip to main content

Home Music Music News

Tony Visconti recalls “goosebumps” recording David Bowie’s ‘Weeping Wall’

An eerie studio coincidence left Visconti thinking Bowie "might have some special mental powers"

By Patrick Clarke

David Bowie performing live in 1977
David Bowie performing live in 1977 (Photo: Scott Weiner / MediaPunch / Alamy)

Tony Visconti has spoken at length about the recording of David Bowie’s ‘Weeping Wall’, which he produced for the singer’s legendary 1977 album ‘Low’.

Appearing on Mary Anne Hobbs’ BBC Radio 6 Music show today (January 7) ahead of what would have been Bowie‘s 75th birthday tomorrow (January 8), Visconti discussed the story behind ‘Low”s instumental penultimate track.

Written and recorded during Bowie’s famed ‘Berlin years’ living in the German capital, Visconti recalled trips across the border between communist East and capitalist West Berlin as Bowie’s inspiration.

“It was a little harrowing going from the west to the east and vice versa. And the most despairing thing was, when we went back into the west, lined along the roadway were East Berliners who were pleading with us, in broad daylight, if we could put them in boot of the car, or if they could cling to the bottom of the car,” Visconti said.

“Seeing the faces on these desperate people I think inspired David to write ‘Weeping Wall’, because on the other side of the Berlin Wall, those people were crying.”

He then spoke about mixing the track at Hansa studio, during which they were joined by Iggy Pop and engineer Edu Meyer.

“David said: ‘I want all of you to take a piece of paper and a pencil, and we’re going to listen to ‘Weeping Wall’ and I want you to draw a picture of what you think the song is about’,” Visconti continued.

“So we played ‘Weeping Wall’ through and all of us got to work scribbling. I didn’t look at anyone else’s scribbles and no-one looked at mine, and David seemed to be very bemused by this. When it was over, he said ‘OK, turn the papers over’, and we all had almost identical drawings […] All of us had a jagged edged wall, like the edges of a woodcutting saw.

“It wasn’t a wall with flat tops, it was a wall with jagged tops – this is very important. Some of us put a moon over the jagged teeth and some of us put a sun over it like a circle – but almost unanimously we drew the same picture.”

He continued: “David turned his [drawing] over and it was a picture of a lizard, like an alligator, with his mouth open, eating the sun – an orb – and it was all goosebumps from that moment on.

David Bowie wears a suit and a hat standing in front of a garage with a wide grin
David Bowie. (Picture: Press)

“I think even David was surprised, but he was hoping that would happen. I think in that smile he found that he might have some special mental powers that instigated it – this so-called ‘coincidence’.”

Earlier this week, meanwhile, Bowie’s estate sold the rights to his entire legendary catalogue to Warner Chappell Music.

Material from across the late icon‘s career has been sold in a deal worth upwards of $250million (£185m), according to Variety.