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David Bowie
Signed Handwritten Lyrics for “The Jean Genie”, 1972via Paddle8

We got an expert to analyse David Bowie’s handwriting

Apparently the icon was organised, ambitious, and emotionally elusive

After news broke yesterday that an extremely rare (and expensive) set of David Bowie lyrics were going on the market, it didn’t take long for fans to get distracted. “Are you telling me Bowie actually did little circles above his ‘i’s'?????” screamed one enraged commenter. “Handwriting envy :((” wailed another. It was almost as if no one actually cared about the historical origins of the Aladdin Sane period. What mattered – what people really cared about above anything – was how the icon made shapes with a pen.

In a bid to explore the symbolic weight of these scrawls further, we thought it’d be best to ask an expert. Specifically, handwriting master Adam Brand – who we’d previously got to look over Kanye West’s famously illegible Life Of Pablo tracklisting

“For someone who was so experimental it is surprising that his writing is quite slow, upright to slightly left, with self-protective arcade structures,” muses Brand, when faced with Bowie’s 44-year-old “The Jean Genie” lyrics. “Considerable sensitivity is shown by the balloon shaped 'd's, and what appears to be quite a light pressure.”

Brand went on to discuss the icon’s emotional side – claiming that he probably had an elusive and guarded nature. It’s a theory that’s supported by his obsessive shifts of personas. “In terms of relationships, he clearly liked being with people, illustrated by the close word spacing,” he notes. “But he is printer rather than a cursive writer. That means it would have been difficult to get emotionally close to him.”

The writing apparently shows a very clear “organisational ability”. According to Brand, Bowie’s detached and focused character was emphasised further by his use of narrow strokes and heavy “upper zones”. “(It) shows that he would go with his intellect, even though his heart might tell him something different.”

And those circled ‘i’s? Turns out they’re actually more revealing than you think. “His motivating forces can be seen in the ambitiously high ‘t’ bars that point up to the right,” Brand concludes. “The circle ‘i’ dots and the forcefully defiant ‘k’ structure show that he certainly had a need to be noticed. This was clearly something he achieved.”

If you’ve got a few grand lying around, the original lyrics are still on sale at Paddle 8. Check out the auction here