Heroes by David Bowie | rhythm and solo
An electric guitar lesson on how to play “Heroes.” by David Bowie.
This is my favorite David Bowie song, and possibly the most loved tune he’s ever recorded.
The song was an instrumental for a long time with the singing and lyrics added later on. The musicians on this one came up with some amazing parts. Carlos Alomar’s rhythm guitar parts are excellent, and Robert Fripp’s haunting guitar/synth part is incredible.
For the demo I faked the keyboard parts on guitar and just used a lot of gain, delay and reverb on the lead guitar parts.
There is a lot of stuff happening on the original recording, it really is an incredible record. Read the SOS article for all of the details. Here's an excerpt where the producer/engineer Tony Visconti talks about how they miced Bowie's vocal:
"My input at this point was to suggest using the room on his voice and drop the conventional method of just singing into one microphone. He agreed, and so I set up three microphones. We only had two or three tracks left, and I needed one of these for backing vocals.
I couldn't even bounce down, and so we'd snookered ourselves. Therefore, even though I would have ideally loved to put each mic on a separate track — enabling us to capture the whole room when he sang loud, and just that one mic right in front of his face when he sang quietly — I put gates on mics two and three.
Mic number one was in front of him with fairly heavy compression, because I knew beforehand that he was really going to shout, and it all went down to one track. This was recording by the seat of your pants, and Bowie was thrilled with the idea that I wanted to do something unique.
He thrives on anything that's different and someone else hasn't thought of yet, and I just thought 'Let's do this live,' because he's a great singer and he could always sing it again if I made a mistake. That's the luxury of working with him: he's consistently good when he sings. He's in tune, he's passionate, and he delivers an arena-type performance every time.
"Mic number one was a valve U47, and with the other two on gates I made sure that number two, an 87 placed about 15 feet away from him, would go on at a certain level, while the third mic, another 87 that was all the way at the other end of the room, didn't open up until he really sang loud.
That reverb on his voice is therefore the room itself, none of it is artificial, and it's his voice triggering the gates. What is really great is that the sound of the opening two verses is really intimate. It doesn't sound like a big room yet, it sounds like somebody just singing about a foot away from your ear.
The whole idea worked, and what you hear on the record is probably take three. We wouldn't go beyond that. He was really worked up by then and I can tell you he was feeling it. It was quite an emotional song for him to sing, he deliberated long and hard over these lyrics, and he was ready to go, there was no holding him back.
We probably punched in a few things, but it's pretty much a complete take save for a couple of notes that he redid."
I had a lot of fun making the demo for this song. I hope you enjoy the video. Cheers
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