David Bowie – We Are Hungry Men

Early David Bowie can be hard to listen to. But then, not every great performer should be expected to bring their “A” game from the start. People must develop and improve. This 1969 song addresses the fears of overpopulation.

Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) was a thinker who first concocted this hypothesis – that humanity would reach a point at which there would not be enough food for everyone to eat.

Bowie’s narrator here satirizes (or supports?) some overpopulation solutions – some very harsh – including free contraception, sterilization, abortion, cannibalism, infanticide and mass extermination.

Since this song, the world’s population continues to grow and a crisis of “Malthusian” proportions has not materialized. Some cite the reason as technology, like higher crop yields. So, Bowie instead could write a tune today about the criticisms of this: deforestation for more farm land and genetically modified foods.


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