A 'thanks, but no thanks' response to the London Olympics showcase finale, no new releases for a decade, a heart-attack eight years ago - they did all seem to point to one thing: David Bowie had retired.
Where are we now? released on Bowie's 66th birthday
[caption id="attachment_44045" align="alignleft" width="339"] Best of Bowie - updated to reflect another incarnation?[/caption]
David Bowie's not been without his critics. But when you're trying to create rather than go with the flow, you're gonna ruffle a few feathers.
And just when you thought the manifestations were over, along comes the new single. But isn't that just his style, in an era where Style went out with The Council?
On the stroke of his 66th birthday, on both his website and on the iTunes store, the new single appeared.
No announcement, no manipulation of social media, no great fanfare or furore. It simply appeared.
It received as much media interest in the aftermath of its release as it may have done had there been the pomp and circumstance of a marketing campaign.
For an artist who's lived most of the last decade out of the public eye, the scenario fits Bowie as perfectly as any of his Manish-festations have done in the past.
No one knew about the Bowie album, either
What really rubbed the music informants up the wrong way was the subsequent news that there was an album, too.
Two years in the making, without so much as a tidbit thrown to the sound-hounds, "The Next Day" will be available on CD for shipping on the 11th March, 2013.
Recorded in , the Bowie single Where are we now? is quoted as not being typical of the album.
For me, that's no bad thing. It's a bit melancholy for my taste but long-time fans of David Bowie will relate to it.
Where are we now? is set as the sixties became the seventies. The Manish Boys had been and gone, Ziggy Stardust was being conceived and David Bowie was living and working with Iggy Pop in Germany.
The video and lyrics hark back to that time. No, almost yearn for them as the realisation that youth is not eternal weighs heavy on Bowie's shoulders.
[caption id="attachment_102" align="alignright" width="300"] Are we yet to see the Best of Bowie?[/caption]
The sound is very latter-day David Bowie; there's no new manifestation waiting to surprise us unlike the updating of the Best of Bowie album depicted in the contrasting covers, above.
Other than perhaps a more mature, reflective aspect to both the vocals and outlook, it's classic Bowie. And certainly worth a play of the video.
Is this heartfelt reminiscence Bowie's swansong? A parting gift for the legions of fans who the mega-star has, one would often think, begrudgingly let follow him?
Just in case it is, you can buy the single (MP3) now and/or pre-order the album The Next Day from Amazon (CD, UK, pre-order price £9.00 as at today's rate) through the respective links, above.
I'd love to know what Bowie/Ziggy fans think of the new track.
Drop us a line in the comments, or come sound me out on Google+