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Divine Symmetry I 24I Moby’s “Spiders” (2005)

According to Moby, who toured with David Bowie in the Area2 festival in 2002, Bowie was part of the inspiration for this song. It’s Moby’s song, so I’ll take his word for it. Supposedly, Brian Eno’s “Spider and Me” has something to do with Bowie, but I haven’t read that supposition as being attributed to Eno and the song gives us nothing to run with, so I came down that that song is not about Bowie.

Well, this song is not about Bowie either. Moby didn’t say it was about Bowie. He said it was partially inspired by Bowie, and partially by Jesus!

The opening lines of the song are:

We just had to ask
Maybe some one out of heaven
Would hear us down here
We couldn’t bear to stand
How the people leave us waiting
For something up there
Oh, why did you leave?
Why won’t you come?
And save us again?
Come back to us spiders
Come uncrush my hand
Let peace and beauty reign
And bring us love again, like you can

Sounds more Jesus-y to me than Bowie-y, but once you know Bowie was in Moby’s head, you can see the “Starman” allusion there. “Spider” is a word associated with Bowie, especially as it pertains to the Spiders from Mars, not to mention the Glass Spider. I don’t think the word is especially connected to Jesus in any particular way, though I guess we are all God’s children– me, Jesus, Bowie, Moby and all the spiders.

By 2005, Bowie was a couple of years into his decade of not making music. I’m not sure if Moby thought Bowie had packed it in, but Bowie had just been touring two years before this song was released. So, it might have seemed like he left public life, but he was still actually alive and unless Moby had some special information (which I suppose is possible), didn’t necessarily seem like he had retired. I’m also thinking about the song I wrote about last week from the Swedish band, Gyllene Tider, that’s title translates into “Ah, Ziggy Stardust, What Became of You?” That song was released about halfway through Bowie’s career, in 1981, and was more nostalgic for Ziggy than Bowie. If that’s what Moby was going for here, I’d think Bowie might have been kind of insulted, after having recently toured with him while promoting Heathen.

Finally, while the vague Bowie reference strikes me as evocative of the Starman who was waiting in the sky, the Starman didn’t come down and therefore wasn’t in a position to leave. Ziggy left in the sense that the kids had killed the man, so I don’t think there were any expectations that he’d be back. Major Tom left, and the Tall Venusians from “Memory of a Free Festival” came to Earth, took one look and high-tailed it back to space. But neither Major Tom nor the never-mentioned-again Venusians were especially messianic. Also, this song sounds like Moby, but not Bowie.

So what we’re left with is Moby giving us a little insight into what was in his mind when he was writing the song. Without that, there’s not a whole lot of divine symmetry going on here.

The Divine Symmetry series compares Bowie songs to other songs with some sort of similarity, intentional or otherwise. The term is borrowed from Bowie’s song, “Quicksand.”

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