Cover artwork

One of the photographs used on the Earthling album also appeared on the ‘Little Wonder’ single covers. It was a Kirlian photograph of Bowie’s fingertip and crucifix, taken in April 1975.

Kirlian images were captured by placing objects onto sheet photographic film overlaid onto a metal plate. When a high voltage current is quickly applied, it created an exposure on the film, which some people believed captured the aura of an subject.

Bowie was given a Kirlian photograph machine by Dr Thelma Moss at UCLA’s Department of Parapsychology. He took two photographs of his fingertip and a crucifix, the second one thirty minutes after consuming cocaine. The image used for Earthling was adapted from the later image.

Highly dangerous camera it was, too. It would regularly explode. Nic Roeg wanted to use some examples of it in The Man Who Fell To Earth, but it wouldn’t film well enough.
David Bowie
Q magazine, February 1997

The video

A promotional video for ‘Little Wonder’ was directed by Floria Sigismondi, who went on to make the videos for ‘Dead Man Walking’, ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’, and ‘The Next Day’.

I thought she just has a wonderful eye, great textures, fabulous cutting, and also that she was really quite out on the proverbial limb in terms of subject matter; it was really quite odd.
David Bowie
The Complete David Bowie, Nicholas Pegg

The ‘Little Wonder’ video was nominated for the Best British Video at the 1998 Brit Awards, losing out to ‘Never Ever’ by All Saints. It was later made part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The video featured sculptures by artist Tony Oursler, who later in 1997 collaborated with Bowie on an exhibit for the Florence Biennale. Ourler later directed the video for Bowie’s 2013 single ‘Where Are We Now?’.

In concert

‘Little Wonder’ was first performed live on 7 September 1996, during the encore at the Capitol Ballroom in Washington, DC. It was retained for the duration of that year’s concerts, and also in Bowie’s 1997 and 2000 tours.

Bowie opened his 50th birthday concert with a performance of ‘Little Wonder’. The show was held at New York’s Madison Square Garden on 9 January 1997. The recording of the song was later released on the Earthling In The City EP.

He also performed the song on Saturday Night Live on 8 February 1997, and at the GQ Awards in New York on 15 October. The latter was issued in 2000 on the album.

Another version from the Earthling Tour was released on the 2021 album Look At The Moon! (Live Phoenix Festival 97).

Bowie’s performance of ‘Little Wonder’ at the Glastonbury Festival on 25 June 2000 was released in 2018 on the CD/DVD and vinyl editions of Glastonbury 2000.

Two days after his Glastonbury appearance, Bowie performed ‘Little Wonder’ again at the BBC Radio Theatre in London. This was his final live performance of the song. It was released in 2000 on a bonus disc with initial copies of Bowie At The Beeb, and in 2021 as part of the box set Brilliant Adventure (1992-2001).

Previous album: 1.Outside
Next song: ‘Looking For Satellites’
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