Meaning of “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie

Written By Michael Miller

Michael is a music teacher and professional cellist. He loves uncovering the deeper meaning of popular songs.

Rebel Rebel by David Bowie is a song that doesn’t just rock your ears but also tickles your brain. In a nutshell, it’s about breaking free from societal norms and expectations, celebrating individuality, and embracing rebellion. Bowie croons about someone who defies conventional gender roles and isn’t bothered by the judgments thrown their way.

Now, let’s dive into the lyrics to uncover the hidden gems and nuances of “Rebel Rebel.”

“Rebel Rebel” Lyrics Meaning

The opening lines with the catchy “Doo doo doo-doo” set the rebellious tone. They’re like a musical call to arms, announcing that something exciting and unconventional is about to happen.

“You’ve got your mother in a whirl, she’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl.” This line captures the confusion and discomfort some people may feel when confronted with someone who defies traditional gender roles.

“Hey babe, your hair’s alright, Hey babe, let’s go out tonight.” Bowie is celebrating the individual’s appearance and suggesting a night of fun and liberation.

“We like dancing and we look divine, you love bands when they’re playing hard.” These lines emphasize the joy of self-expression and the love for music that transcends societal judgments.

“They put you down, they say I’m wrong, you tacky thing, you put them on.” Bowie acknowledges the criticism and judgments faced by the rebel but also celebrates their resilience and style.

The chorus, with its repeated “Rebel rebel, you’ve torn your dress, your face is a mess,” reinforces the idea of rebellion and non-conformity.

“Hot tramp, I love you so!” This line expresses admiration and affection for the rebel’s boldness.

Why Was “Rebel Rebel” Written?

David Bowie wrote “Rebel Rebel” during a time when he was experimenting with his own image and sound. He had just shed his Ziggy Stardust persona, which challenged gender norms, and “Rebel Rebel” can be seen as a continuation of that theme.

At this point in his life, Bowie was exploring different aspects of identity and self-expression. He was also reacting to the glam rock scene of the 1970s, where androgyny and rebellion were prevalent themes.

In essence, “Rebel Rebel” is a reflection of Bowie’s own journey of self-discovery and a nod to the cultural changes happening around him. It’s a timeless anthem for those who dare to be different, challenging us to embrace our inner rebel with pride.

So, if you’ve ever felt like an outsider or danced to your own beat, “Rebel Rebel” is your soundtrack, and David Bowie is your musical guide on the path to rebellion and self-acceptance.