Bruce played the song as a tribute after David Bowie’s passing in 2016. He soundchecked the song before the show. It was the opening night of The River Tour 2016, at which each show on the opening U.S. leg will feature a complete performance of The River album, in sequence. The encores open with "Rebel Rebel".
" is a song by David Bowie, released in 1974 as a single from the album Diamond Dogs. Cited as his most-covered track, it has been described as being effectively Bowie's farewell to the glam rock movement that he had helped pioneer. The song is notable for its gender-bending lyrics ("You got your mother in a whirl / She's not sure if you're a boy or a girl") as well as its distinctive riff .
Bruce on the artist
"He supported our music way, way, way back in the early beginning. In 1973 he rang me up and I visited him in Philly where he was making the Young Americans record. He covered some of my music, It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City and Growin' Up, when he was a big supporter of ours. I took a Greyhound bus down to Philadelphia. That's how early it was. Anyway, we're thinking of him."
"Over here on E Street, we’re feeling the great loss of David Bowie. David was a visionary artist and an early supporter of our music. Always changing and ahead of the curve, he was an artist whose excellence you aspired to. He will be sorely missed.
You've got your mother in a whirl
She's not sure if you're a boy or a girl
Hey babe, your hair's alright
Hey babe, let's go out tonight
You like me, and I like it all
We like dancing and we look divine
You love bands when they're playing hard
You want more and you want it fast
They put you down, they say I'm wrong
You tacky thing, you put them on
Rebel Rebel, you've torn your dress
Rebel Rebel, your face is a mess
Rebel Rebel, how could they know?
Hot tramp, I love you so!
You've torn your dress, your face is a mess
You can't get enough, but enough ain't the test
You've got your transmission and your live wire
You got your cue line and a handful of ludes
You wanna be there when they count up the dudes
And I love your dress
You're a juvenile success
Because your face is a mess
So how could they know?
I said, how could they know?
So what you wanna know Calamity's child,
Where'd you wanna go?
What can I do for you? Looks like you've been there too
'Cause you've torn your dress
And your face is a mess
Ooo, your face is a mess
Ooo, ooo, so how could they know?
Eh, eh, how could they know?