Released: 15 September 2003
Gerry Leonard: guitar
Tony Visconti: bass guitar
Mario J McNulty: drums, percussion
‘Fall Dog Bombs The Moon’ appears on David Bowie’s Reality album. It was written about the US-led war in Iraq.
Much of Reality was written in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US invasion of Afghanistan, and in the months leading up to the war in Iraq. The world events were referenced mainly in two songs on the album: ‘Looking For Water’ and ‘Fall Dog Bombs The Moon’.
The song was inspired by an article Bowie read about contracts awarded to US company Kellogg Brown & Root to rebuild post-war Iraq. The song’s antagonist was portly based on hawkish US vice president Dick Cheney, a primary cheerleader for war against Iraq who promoted falsehoods over links between the country and al-Qaeda in order to bring the US into the conflict.
It came about from reading an article on Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the company that Dick Cheney used to run. Basically, Kellogg Brown & Root got the job of cleaning up Iraq. What tends to happen is that a thing like an issue or a policy manifests itself as a guide. It becomes a character of some kind, like the one in ‘Fall Dogs’ [sic]. There’s this guy saying, “I’m goddamn rich.” [laughs] You know, “Throw anything you like at me, baby, because I’m goddamn rich. It doesn’t bother me.” It’s an ugly song sung by an ugly man. So it was definitely about corporate and military power.
Interview magazine, October 2003
This was a very political album and this track was inspired greatly by the war, politics and big business. Sound familiar? #TimsTwitterListeningParty
— Mike Garson (@mikegarson) August 2, 2020
Bowie reportedly wrote the song quickly – according to a Sound On Sound feature on Reality, “‘Fall Dog Bombs The Moon’ was completed in about half an hour.” The bass guitar and drums were retained from the demo recording, played by Tony Visconti and Mario J McNulty respectively.
Before the band came in, I’d played bass on all of the demos, and some of my bass parts eventually made it all the way to the album in preference to Mark Plati’s. This was the case on ‘New Killer Star’ – Mark had a go at it, but there was some kind of personality in my bass playing that David preferred, and the same applied to ‘The Loneliest Guy’, ‘Days’ and ‘Fall Dog Bombs The Moon’. It’s Mark’s bass on all of the other tracks, including the part that I wrote for ‘Looking For Water’.
Sound On Sound, October 2003
‘Fall Dog Bombs The Moon’ was performed at a minority of dates on A Reality Tour. The first was on 19 August 2003 at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, New York.
During some performances, in an overly literal reading of the title, a roadie held a stuffed toy dog aloft in the background as the band played. This can be seen in the Riverside Studios, London, performance that was filmed on 8 September 2003.
A performance of the song in Dublin on 23 November was released as a bonus track on the CD version of A Reality Tour.
David Bowie’s final performance of ‘Fall Dog Bombs The Moon’ was on 8 May 2004 at the Chastain Park Amphitheater in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.