Today I heard David Bowie’s 1999 single “Thursday’s Child” and it made me sad. Which isn’t an unusual reaction. The song’s been making me sad ever since it was released. It is, without question, the saddest David Bowie song ever. Even though the lyrics seem to take an uplifting turn, Bowie sings them in a flattened, weary moan over a slow, steady wash of keyboards that suffocates the optimism of the chorus – throw me tomorrow now that I’ve really got a chance. The whole song feels like a bed you can’t get out of on a dark, rainy morning – it’s comfortable and warm, but also undeniably symptomatic of depression. It’s an achy song.

It was the opening and the only real highlight of Bowie’s album …hours, an album that I wanted to love (if for no other reason than the album’s back cover art which resembles nothing so much as a scene from a David Bowie support group meeting), but never quite warmed to. The song’s adult contemporary feel, far more suited to a latter-day Annie Lennox record, not only came in stark contrast to the industrial conceptualism and the frenetic drum ‘n’ bass dalliances of the two records that preceded it, Outside (1995) and Earthling (1997), but also the remainder of the record that followed – a meandering collection of purposelessly artsy guitar-rock (think Tin Machine II 2).

The song also reminded me of the general lack of new David Bowie music. For nearly 40 years starting in the mid-60s, Bowie had been one of the most prolific, and continuously productive artists of his time, but since releasing a quick pair of decent but forgettable albums in 2003 and 2004, he’s been absent. No new music doesn’t mean no new product though. For the last 20 years, Bowie has turned the packaging and re-packaging and re-packaging of his back catalogue into an art form unto itself. Witness the titanic reissue of his 1976 album Station to Station.