During his three-album sojourn with Brian Eno in ’70s West Berlin, Bowie drew from Krautrock, ambient, African and minimalist influences. One of his best-known songs from this era is a timeless contradiction in terms: an experimental anthem. The sound of “Heroes” is shallow, lo-fi, trebly, shuddering with reverb; Bowie shriek-sings about star-crossed lovers at the Berlin Wall as if from inside a KGB holding cell or perhaps the world’s largest clothes dryer, and his gallant resolve surges and dips (“We’re nothing / And nothing will help us / Maybe we’re lying”). But all doubts are vaporized by the laser-beam distortion of the main riff, bearing aloft the song’s dangerous romance and its call to arms: “We can be heroes!” When U2 went to Berlin to make Achtung Baby, they were trying to make this song. The entire Arcade Fire catalog came out of this song.
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