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David Bowie’s ‘The Next Day’ Artwork Explained

David Bowie, 'The Next Day'
Columbia Records

Excited as they were to discover that a brand new David Bowie album is on the way, a fair number of his fans raised an eyebrow when they saw the cover for the upcoming ‘The Next Day,’ due March 12. But if you’re one of the people wondering why he decided to slap a white box on top of his classic ‘Heroes’ cover for the new LP, don’t worry — designer Jonathan Barnbrook is here to explain.

In a lengthy post at his personal site, Barnbrook revealed the rationale behind the artwork, which has a lot to do with the weight of expectation that an artist of Bowie’s vintage and stature is forced to deal with whenever the urge to release new music strikes. “No matter how much we try, we cannot break free from the past,” explained Barnbrook.

“It always looms large and people will judge you always in relation to your history, no matter how much you try to escape it. The obscuring of an image from the past is also about the wider human condition; we move on relentlessly in our lives to the next day, leaving the past because we have no choice but to.”

And as for why he chose to deface ‘Heroes’ for the new record? “If you are going to subvert an album by David Bowie there are many to choose from but this is one of his most revered,” pointed out Barnbrook. “It had to be an image that would really jar if it were subverted in some way, and we thought ‘Heroes’ worked best on all counts.” Also of interest to fans: According to Barnbrook, “The new album is very contemplative and the ‘Heroes’ cover matched this mood.” He pointed out that new single ‘Where Are We Now?‘ “is a comparison between Berlin when the wall fell and Berlin today,” and pointed out how using ‘Heroes’ — a chapter in Bowie’s hit ‘Berlin Trilogy’ — would force “people to think about the time when the original album was produced and now.”

Next: Top David Bowie '70s Album Tracks

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