Released: 21 September 1999
David Bowie: vocals, 12-string guitar, keyboards
Reeves Gabrels: guitar, synthesizer, drum programming
Mark Plati: bass guitar
Everett Bradley: percussion
‘Seven’ was the fourth single to be released from …hours, David Bowie’s 21st studio album.
R&B still comes through in my music. As does electronica. All the things I’ve been through on the way, even folk music, still come through. Take this new track, ‘Seven’ – my God, it’s like right out of the ’60s, real hippy-dippy!
Uncut, October 1999
‘Seven’ was written by Bowie and Reeves Gabrels for the computer game Omikron – The Nomad Soul, and was recorded under the working title ‘Seven Days’. But its origins pre-dated ‘Omikron’, and it was originally intended – as were ‘Survive’ and ‘The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell’ – for Gabrels’ second solo album Ulysses (Della Notte).
There were three songs I had started writing for a solo record, so I brought those to Bermuda to get them jump-started. I brought them without vocal melody ideas: ‘Seven’, ‘Pretty Things…’, ‘Survive’.
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)
Many of the songs on ‘hours…’ are about ageing, mortality, and the passing of time. Upon its release Bowie said: “I wanted to capture a kind of universal angst felt by many people of my age. You could say that I am attempting to write some songs for my generation.”
Seven days to live, seven ways to die… I’d actually reduce that further to twenty-four hours to live. I’m very happy to deal and only deal with the existing twenty-four hours I’m going through. I’m not inclined to even think too heavily about the end of the week or the week I’ve just come through. The present is really the place to be.
Q magazine, October 1999
The song makes reference to “my father… my mother… my brother,” although Bowie warned against a literal interpretation of his family history.
They’re not necessarily my mother, father and brother; it was the nuclear unit thing. Obviously I am totally aware of how people read things into stuff like this. I’m quite sure that some silly cow will come along and say, (adopts silly cow voice) “Oh, that’s about Terry; his brother, and he was very disappointed about this girl back in 1969, whenever he got over her…” That sort of thing comes with the territory, and because I have been an elliptical writer, I think people have – quite rightly – gotten used to interpreting the lyrics in their own way. I am only the person the greatest number of people believe that I am. So little of it has anything to do with me, so I just have to do the best I can with what I’ve got – knowing that it has a complete second life by the time it leaves me.
Q magazine, October 1999