David Bowie titled the above song (see link) Neuköln after the southeastern Berlin neighborhood mainly populated by Turkish gastarbeiters (Bowie dropping an “l” from the name*). This created a persistent myth that Bowie had lived there. Bowie later claimed he had used a “Turkish modal scale” for his performance,** which makes its sequencing into “Secret Life of Arabia” both fitting and slightly ridiculous.
So several critics have found “Neuköln” to depict the isolation of Turkish immigrants in a harsh city that used them solely for labor, or a musing on Islam in the West (Bowie’s sax does appear to imitate a muezzin call at times), or the fate of a faceless, nameless individual living in the cradle of the Cold War. All of these theories could well be true, and the image of a stateless traveler would be central to Bowie’s next record.
Not sure about this Bowie song musically, but the sound does in some way represent the feel of Neuköln. Perhaps it's just the suggestion that influences my thought process. Thanks Marco for the inspiration of this post.
Neuköln seems like the best place for us in Berlin with a running path along a canal steps from our door, wonderful fresh bakeries,restaurants and and a variety of shopping options. Getting around the city is convenient. We now have a 30 day pass allowing unlimited transit throughou the city.
I have not lived in Middle East community before with the Doner Cafés open till 3 in the morning, men sitting around card tables, playing games and smoking a fragrant shisha. Women wearing Hijabs. Amongst all this are the young Germans opening gourmet restaurants or vinyl only pubs where a hip DJ plays old school American R&B on turntables.
For the last few mornings I have been stopping by the same Turkish bakery for fresh rolls. The saleslady wearing traditional clothing is beginning to recognize me. Giving me a perky aufwiedersehen.
By the way Bowie also recorded another song while in Berlin which is instantly recognizable and a great tune.