David Bowie Studio Moment Hinted at ‘Special Mental Powers’
The instrumental piece – which Bowie laid down entirely solo – was inspired by visits to East Berlin during the period when the German city was split by the Berlin Wall, and those on the Soviet side were desperate to escape to the west.
“It was a little harrowing going from the west to the east and vice versa,” Visconti told BBC Radio 6 in an interview marking what would have been Bowie’s 75th birthday. “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, [to] put them in boot of the car or [let them] cling to the bottom of the car.”
He added that, when the track was completed, he, Bowie, close friend Iggy Pop and his wife, along with engineer Edu Meyer sat in the studio control room. “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.' … I want you to draw a picture of what you think the song is about.’ So we played ‘Weeping Wall’ through, and all of us got to work scribbling.”
Listen to David Bowie’s 'Weeping Wall'
Visconti was certain he didn't look at anyone else’s sketches and no one looked at his. “When it was over he said, ‘OK, turn the papers over' … and we all had almost identical drawings – this was really weird. 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. … 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. And David turned his 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 goose bumps from that moment on.”
The producer noted that he thought "even David was surprised, but he was hoping that would happen. And I think in [his] smile he found that he might have some special mental powers that instigated it – this so-called coincidence.”