Released: 15 September 2003
David Bowie: vocals, guitar
Carlos Alomar, Earl Slick, Gerry Leonard: guitar
Mark Plati: bass guitar
Matt Chamberlain: drums
Gail Ann Dorsey, Catherine Russell: vocals
The central riff was performed by Carlos Alomar, who had been with Bowie through the latter half of the Seventies, much of the Eighties, and occasionally beyond. Alomar’s final collaborations with Bowie were for 2002’s Heathen, including his central riff on ‘Fly’. The song was completed during the Reality sessions in early 2003.
The vocal melody of the verses recall the monotone used by Bowie in ‘Pablo Picasso’; their similarity perhaps explains why ‘Fly’ was left off the main Reality album.
Lyrically, meanwhile, it’s a tale of domestic humdrum and yearning for escape – “The television’s on and I’m walking through the yard/How’s this life that sweet when I’m crying in my car?/Dying for the weekend”. Bowie’s protagonist internalises his contradictory feelings: he closes his eyes and flies in his imagination, yet is “only screaming in my head” despite breaking down in private. It is a distant relative of ‘Repetition’ from Lodger, but with the aggression suppressed and desperation focused inwardly.
‘Fly’ was the lead song on the second disc, and was followed by ‘Queen of All the Tarts (Overture)’ and a 2002 re-recording of ‘Rebel Rebel’.
There was also a limited ‘European’ CD edition with a bonus disc. This contained the three bonus tracks, covers of the Kinks’ ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s ‘Love Missile F1-11’, and three versions of the ‘Rebel Never Gets Old’ mashup of ‘Rebel Rebel’ and ‘Never Get Old’.