In Memory of David Bowie: The China Girl Running Diary

The Internet will be awash with remembrances and tributes to David Bowie over the next few days. Many serious think pieces will be written on the enormous influence Bowie had on pop culture, music, fashion, and social values. But since this is a China blog, I thought I’d limit my tribute to the wonderful absurdity that is his 1983 ode to Yellow Fever, “China Girl.”

Let’s go to the tape:

He is gone too soon.



Most people know that the original song — minus Niles Rodger’s fortune cookie riff or Stevie Ray’s solo — was written and recorded first by Iggy Pop. Apparently it was inspired by an Iggy Pop infatuation with Kuelan Nguyen, a beautiful Vietnamese refugee Iggy hooked up with in Germany. Of course, since it’s Iggy Pop there’s also a 6-5 chance that the song might just be about heroin…

*Postscript II (Updated January 13):

Several people on Facebook have reminded me that I left Warren Zevon out of my pantheon of poignancy. Not sure how this happened. I love Warren Zevon to the point that my recent Opium War series for The World of Chinese was subtitled "Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money." His video for "Keep Me in Your Heart" is crushing. My bad for leaving him off the list.