I'm sick this week. It happens every February, the most wretched month on the calendar. When I take ill, I like to have music for soothing and healing, and I've developed some go-to songs over the years. Back when I was a senior in college, I got massively ill after making the poorly considered decision to dig my car out of a snow drift without boots on. It was spring break, and the snowstorm combined with my sickness meant I had to stay in my apartment.
I was in the midst of my David Bowie phase, and had just bought copies of Low and Station to Station, which I listened to constantly over the next few days. These were appropriate choices, since Bowie recorded them when he was in a period of illness and recovery, and I think that context shows up in the grooves.
On Low, the first side is all relatively conventional art-rock songs, with verses and choruses, and the like. The second side is made up of experiments and sound collages, which I didn't appreciate so much at the time. Nowadays, I like "Warszawa" best. It's based off of Bowie's impressions of Warsaw under communist rule, gathered during a train layover there. It is the sound of a grey, listless day without hope of sunshine. To me it paints a picture of a ghostly city, full of people who are less living and more just waiting to die.
What I hate most about being sick is having the feeling that just living and breathing are an ordeal, that most I can hope for in the day is to survive it. That's exactly what I hear in this song.