Released: 25 September 1995
David Bowie: vocals, keyboards, synthesizer
Brian Eno: keyboards, synthesizer
‘Wishful Beginnings’ is a song co-written by David Bowie and Brian Eno for the 1.Outside album.
Bowie sings from the perspective of The Minotaur, a mysterious artist responsible for the murder of Baby Grace Blue. The song’s pitiful refrain – “You’re a sorry little girl” – mutates by the song’s end into a declaration of regret: “I’m sorry little girl”.
The backing, meanwhile, is pure Eno, an impressionistic soundscape which eschews conventional songwriting in favour of ambient sounds which slowly shift and develop over the course of the piece. It
is based on three key elements: a ghostly looped three-beat sample sounding like hollow laughter; chiming synthesizer chords; and percussion including tambourine and a four-to-the-floor bass drum.
This is pretty obscure David. He always felt that with a strong bass drum in 4/4 time you could place anything over it.
I think he and John Lennon shared that concept – a way of framing the music and getting away with any kind of melody and harmony above it.
Very interesting ambient guitar sounds.
Twitter, 5 July 2020
‘Wishful Beginnings’ is one of the few songs on 1.Outside never to have been performed live by Bowie.
The vinyl edition of the album was titled Excerpts From 1.Outside. In addition to shorter edits of ‘Leon Takes Us Outside’ and ‘The Motel’, it omitted the songs ‘No Control’, ‘Wishful Beginnings’, ‘Thru’ These Architects Eyes’, and ‘Strangers When We Meet’, as well as the Algeria Touchshriek and second Nathan Adler segues.
In March 1996, the album was reissued in Europe and Australia as a two-disc set titled 1.Outside Version 2. This omitted ‘Wishful Beginnings’ from the first disc, but appended the Pet Shop Boys’ remix of ‘Hallo Spaceboy’ as the final track.
Listened to D. B. disc (after swimming and park and lunch). Strong, muddy, prolix, gritty, Garsonic, modern (self-consciously, ironically so). Every rhythm section superb (even mine). Some acceptable complexity merging into not-so-acceptable muddle; several really beautiful songs (‘Motel’, ‘Oxford Town’, ‘Strangers’, others). The only thing missing: space – the nerve to be very simple. But an indisputably ‘outside’ record. I wish it was shorter. I wish nearly all records were shorter.
A Year with Swollen Appendices