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"The Width of a Circle" is a song written by David Bowie in 1970 for the album The Man Who Sold the World, released later that year in the U.S.marker and in April 1971 in the UKmarker. It is the opening track to the album, a hard rocker with heavy metal overtones. Bowie had performed a shorter version of the song in concerts for several months before recording it.

Featuring Mick Ronson's lead guitar work and occasional choral effects from the band, this 8-minute song is divided into two parts. The music takes on a heavy R&B quality in the second half, where the narrator enjoys a sexual encounter - with God, the Devil or some other supernatural being, according to different interpretations - in the depths of Hell.

Some sources claim that the song was released as a single by RCA in Eastern Europe, with "Cygnet Committee" from Bowie's 1969 album Space Oddity on the B-side. However, this 'Russian' single was pressed by a fan and therefore is unofficial.

Live versions

Several live versions of the song have been released:

Other releases

As well as its 1973 release as a single in Eastern Europe, the song appeared on the Japanese compilation The Best of David Bowie in 1974.

Cover versions



  • Pegg, Nicholas, The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-14-5

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