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The unlikely story behind ‘Valentine’s Day’ by David Bowie

Far from flowers and chocolates, Valentine’s Day by David Bowie takes a look at a darker historical event associated with the date.

In 2013, David Bowie released Valentine’s Day. The track was featured on the 24th and penultimate record from the legendary musician, The Next Day.

Yet despite what the title might suggest, Valentine’s Day was not a song which explored romance, devotion, or anything close.

In fact, Bowie’s Valentine’s Day, and its accompanying video, actually contain a sobering message about gun control. It’s believed that the song refers to a 2008 University shooting in Northern Illinois which occurred on Valentine’s Day.

The track was recorded by American producer Tony Visconti. “The subject matter is pretty scary,” Visconti once described of the song. “It’s related to people who go postal, about people who acquire a gun and do awful things with it.”

David Bowie
Photo: Michael Ochs/Getty Images

In the video, Bowie is playing a G2T Hohner guitar. Yet if you take a closer look, you can see the shadow actually looks as though he is holding a gun. Critics have drawn similarities between the silhouette and an infamous image of Charlton Heston speaking about gun laws at an NRA convention in 2000.

Valentine’s Day was to be David Bowie’s last ever 7-inch single issued from a new album before he passed away in 2016.

Check out the powerful video for Valentine’s Day below.