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This otherwise unknown Bowie composition was registered with David's publisher Sparta in 1966.


  • Album: Reality

  • Live: A Reality Tour

  • Live Video: Reality (Tour Edition DVD)

Here is Reality's most inscrutable lyric, not to mention its most intriguing title. In the Bowie songbook, dogs are an established symbol of bestial destructiveness (not just in "Diamond Dogs", but also in "We Are The Dead", "Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud", "Life On Mars?", "'87 And Cry", "Fun", "Gunman", "I Pray, Olé" and "We All Go Through", to name a few); but "Fall Dog Bombs The Moon" presents a more than usually cryptic challenge.

     The key on this occasion is the fearful predicament of global politics at the time of the Reality sessions. The album was recorded during the preamble to, and the prosecution of, the Iraq War, and in 2003 Bowie confirmed the song's political intent and revealed that the title was a kind of assonant joke: "It came from reading an article about Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the company that Dick Cheney used to run. Basically, Kellogg Brown & Root got the job of cleaning up Iraq. What tends to happen is that a thing like an issue or a policy manifests itself as a guide. It becomes a character of some kind, like the one in "Fall Dog". There's this guy saying, 'I'm goddamn rich.' You know, 'Throw anything you like at me, baby, because I'm goddamn rich. It doesn't bother me.' It's an ugly song sung by an ugly man. So it was definitely about corporate and military power."

     Thus "Fall Dog Bombs The Moon" (the last word surely evoking the Crescent Moon of Islam) revives the protest tradition that occasionally crept into Bowie's songwriting: it's a lament for the circumstances that have brought us to "these blackest of years", cocking a contemptuous snook at the increasing predilection of political parties to find "someone to hate" while jumping into bed with business corporations. This is a song for the brave new world of Bush and Blair: married on stage with such loaded selections as "Fantastic Voyage", "Loving The Alien" and "I'm Afraid Of Americans", the implications become even clearer.

     Bowie's ideas were translated onto paper very rapidly; he later recalled that the lyric for "Fall Dog Bombs The Moon" was written in about half an hour. Musically, the number is a close cousin of the rhythms and riffs of "New Killer Star", distinguished by Earl Slick's emotive lead guitar line. The song was performed throughout A Reality Tour, during which a roadie would occasionally contribute to the proceedings by assisting a large cuddly dog to dance in the background (the capering canine can be spotted on the Riverside Studios DVD). The AOL session recorded on September 23rd 2003 included an unusual acoustic version of the number, while 2010's A Reality Tour CD features a live performance recorded in Dublin on November 23rd 2003 which was omitted from the DVD release of the same name.

FALL IN LOVE WITH ME (Pop/Bowie/H. Sales/T. Slaes)

The closing track of Iggy Pop's Lust For Life is co-written and co-produced by Bowie, who also plays keyboards.


Scarlett Johansson's sumptuous cover versions of the Tom Waits classic (originally the sole studio track on his otherwise live 1988 release Big Time) is the first of two numbers on her 2008 album Anywhere I Lay My Head to benefit from backing vocals by David Bowie. Initially lying low in the mix, Bowie's harmonies gradually rise through the lush wall-of-sound production and come to the fore as the song approaches its climax, interlocking with Johansson's voice to stirring effect. Notable among many other elements in the expansive soundscape is a plaintive banjo plucked by multi-instrumentalist Sean Antanaitis: the album's producer, David Andrew Sitek, later recalled that "With "Falling Down", our pursuit of making one song with both Kermit the Frog and David Bowie on it became a success. The banjo part was a eureka moment. I turned to Sean and was like, do you remember when Kermit the Frog was sitting on that lily pad playing the banjo during "Rainbow Connection"? Sure enough Sean figured it out. The goal was to get the banjo to sound sad or sentimental. Then we layered on a bunch of things that probably shouldn't be together, and it turned into this backdrop against which Scarlett's crystal-clear voice sits so incredibly far out."

     "Falling Down" was released as a single in May 2008, although Bowie's contribution did not extend to appearing in the promotional video, which was conceived as fly-on-the-wall account of a day in the life of a star, following Johansson from car to make-up chair to studio, and featuring an unlikely cameo by Salman Rushdie.

FAME (Bowie/Lennon/Alomar)

  • Album: Young Americans

  • A-Side: August 1975

  • Live: Stage/Bowie At The Beeb/A Reality Tour/Live Nassau Coliseum '76 (included on 2010 Reissue of Station To Station)

  • Compilation: The Best Of Bowie/Hip Hop Roots

  • A-Side: March 1990

  • Download: May 2007

  • A-Side: July 2015

  • Video: The Video Collection/Best Of Bowie

  • Live Video: Serious Moonlight/Ricochet/Glass Spider/A Reality Tour

In January 1975, while mixing Young Americans in New York, Bowie summoned members of his tour band for an impromptu recording session with John Lennon at Electric Lady. After taping "Across The Universe", the band renewed their attempts to lay down a studio version of The Flares' "Foot Stomping", a staple in the previous autumn's tour repertoire. However, the song which had worked so well in concert proved lacklustre in the studio, and Bowie elected instead to discard "Foot Stomping" and salvage the writhing guitar riff created by Carlos Alomar, According to Alomar, "David recorded my chord changes and riff, and he hated it. He took out the lyrics and ended up with the music and cut it up on the master so that it would have classic R&B form. He's a perfectionist and experiments with the original tape, running it backwards, cutting it up, doing things on the master as opposed to recording them live. "Fame" was totally cut up. When he had the form of the song he wanted, he left. I stayed behind and overdubbed four or five different guitar parts on it. He listened to it and said, 'That's it.'"

     Bowie would later question Alomar's recollection of multiple guitar overdubs: "Carlos's memory is a little off here," he revealed in 2006. "Tony Visconti took the tapes to a studio for the 5.1 mix last year and found that Carlos had only overdubbed one extra guitar. The other electric guitar which makes the long "Wah" and the echoed "Bomp!" sound was played by myself, and John Lennon played the acoustic. John supervised the backwards piano on the front. I also spent several hours creating the end section."

     An apocryphal claim has it that "Fame" was based on Shirley And Company's "Shame Shame Shame", a story originating in Tony Zanetta's less-than-eyewitness account in his book Stardust. But like so many of the Bowie classics, "Fame" was clearly the product of a happy collision of accidents and methodologies. John Lennon later suggested another source, telling an interviewer in 1980 that "We took some Stevie Wonder middle eight and did it backwards, you know, and we made a record out of it! I like that track."

     "With John Lennon in the studio it was more the influence of having him that helped," said Bowie. "There's always a lot of adrenaline flowing when John is around, but his chief addition to it all was the high-pitched singing of "Fame!" The riff came from Carlos and the melody and most of the lyrics came from me. But it wouldn't have happened if John hadn't been there. He was the energy, and that's why he got a credit for writing it. He was the inspiration."

     "Fame" is an immaculately produced slice of bump-and-grind that cuts to the quick of Bowie's (and indeed Lennon's) very immediate disaffection with the trappings of stardom: money-grabbing managers, mindless adulation, unwanted entourages and the hollow vacuity of the limousine lifestyle. Only three years after the wide-eyed aspirations of "Star", Bowie had lived that song's dream and tasted it turn sour. Having spent most of 1974 simultaneously touring America and fighting with his manager over control of his finances and career, David was singing from the heart. There's nothing abstract about lines like "what you need you have to borrow", which precisely articulate David's predicament in the dying days of the MainMan empire. Much of the lyric seems to be addressed directly to Tony Defries. "There was a degree of malice," Bowie later agreed. "I'd had very upsetting management problems and a lot of that was built into the song." On another occasion he recalled that he and Lennon had "spent hours talking about fame, and what it's like not having a life of your own any more. How much you want to be known before you are, and then when you are, how much you want the reverse: "I don't want to do these interviews! I don't want to have these photographs taken!" We wondered how that slow changes takes place, and why it isn't everything it should have been. I guess it was inevitable that the subject matter of the song would be about the subject matter of these conversations."

     Despite its intensely personal nature, Bowie was initially unenthusiastic about "Fame". "That was my least favourite track on the album," he recalled in 1990, "even though John had contributed to it and everything, and I had no idea, as with "Let's Dance", that that was what a commercial single is. I haven't got a clue when it comes to singles. I just don't know about them, I don't get it, and "Fame" was really out of left-field for me." Ironically, "Fame" was the Bowie single that finally broke America and propelled him into the full glare of Stateside celebrity. It became a US number 1 in the summer of 1975 before David had ever topped the chart in his home country, where the single managed a more modest number 17. The 3'30" single edit, incidentally, has only appeared on one compilation to date, 1980's The Best Of Bowie (the so-called "original single edit" released as a 7" picture disc in 2015 is nothing of the sort; it's a new and inauthentic creation).

     Two early studio mixes, timing at 3'53" and 4'17" respectively and both distinguished by a prominent flute line possibly played by backing singer and multi-instrumentalist Jean Fineberg, have appeared on bootlegs. On November 4th 1975 David gave a mimed performance of "Fame", together with his latest single "Golden Years", on ABC TV's Soul Train. A fortnight later on November 23rd he performed the song again (this time with a live vocal and a sax-heavy backing mix) on CBS's The Cher Show. This clip, shot against a backdrop of twinkling Vegas lights, would subsequently become the unofficial 'video' for "Fame", despite being shot a good two months after the single's chart success.

     In January 1976 James Brown, one of Bowie's boyhood idols, released a single called "Hot" - followed two months later by an album of the same name - which was a blatant and un-sanctioned cover of "Fame" with a few different lyrics. Apparently Bowie was flattered to have his work recorded by one of his heroes, yet at the same time dismayed by what he considered plagiarism; according to Carlos Alomar, he decided that "If it charts, then we'll sue him." However, in common with many of Brown's mid-1970s offerings "Hot" failed to chart, and all was forgotten. (Garbled reports of this episode have led some sources to claim that Bowie covered a James Brown composition called "Hot" during his days with The Spiders, but this was of course 1971's "Hot Pants", an entirely different number).

     In March 1990 a barrage of "Fame 90" remixes by the likes of Arthur Baker and Jon Gass were released to spearhead the ChangesBowie album and the Sound + Vision tour. "It covers a lot of ground, "Fame"," Bowie explained, "it stands up really well in time. It still sounds potent. It's quite a nasty, angry little song. I quite like that." This time the single only reached number 28 in Britain and failed to chart in America, despite the additional publicity of featuring in the Pretty Woman soundtrack. "Fame 90" was by no means an improvement on the original, smothering its slinky funk sounds with gunshot percussion and fashionable scratch-mix effects. The numerous subsidiary remixes, all of which now sound more dated than the 1975 original, range in palatability from the amusing "House Mix" to the truly ghastly "Queen Latifah's Rap Version"; in 2007 a download EP collected five of the more prominent 1990 mixes, including those two. Innumerable re-edits of "Fame 90", together with other delights like the terrifying 19-minute "Dave Barratt 12" Uncut Version" and the "Acapulco Rap" (simply Queen Latifah's minute-long rap devoid of musical accompaniment), continue to infest the collector's circuit.

     The Cher Show performance was one of several archive clips used for Gus Van Sant's "Fame 90" video, in which miniature screens relaying past glories framed new footage of Bowie vogueing with Sound + Vision tour dancer Louise LeCavalier. "Fame" featured on the Station To Station, Stage, Serious Moonlight, Glass Spider, Sound + Vision, Earthling, summer 2000, Heathen and A Reality tours, making it one of Bowie's hardiest perennials. He often adapted and augmented the number on stage: in 1983 he added a lengthy call-and-response sequence with the audience, while in 1987 he incorporated snatches of the Edwin Starr/Bruce Springsteen hit "War" ("Fame - what it is good for? Absolutely nothing!"), the traditional folk-songs "London Bridge Is Falling Down" and "Lavender Blue" ("I will be king, dilly dilly, you can have fame!") and, bizarrely, "Who Will Buy?" from Lionel Bart's Oliver!. During the early leg of the Sound + Vision tour "Fame" segued into a live rendering of the "Fame 90 House Mix". In a similar spirit the Earthling shows developed the line "Is it any wonder?" into a new drum'n'bass workout which soon acquired a life of its own (see "Fun"), and when the original "Fame" was revived on the same tour, splendidly dirty blasts of fuzzy guitar and spooky synthesized strings transformed the song from a rinky-dinky "greatest hit" back into the prowling monster it had once been. This is the version that reappeared on subsequent tours, from which live performances are included on the Bowie At The Beeb bonus disc and A Reality Tour. Earlier live recordings appear on Live Nassau Coliseum '76, Stage and Glass Spider.

     "Fame" has been covered by innumerable artists, among them Eurythmics (as a bonus track on the 2005 reissue of Touch), Paris Hilton (during her abortive 2004 attempt to launch a pop career), God Lives Underwater (for the soundtrack of the 2001 film 15 Minutes), Tommy Lee (on his 2002 album Never A Dull Moment), Dr Dre (on 1996's Dr Dre Presents The Aftermath), Scott Weiland (on 2011's A Compilation Of Scott Weiland Cover Songs), and Duran Duran, whose 1983 B-side version was later included on David Bowie Songbook. Among those who have performed the song live are Pearl Jam, George Michael, Iggy Pop, Smashing Pumpkins, the Dave Matthews Band, The Feelies, Jean Meilleur and comedian Bob Downe (who spliced the song with Irene Cara's "Fame", no doubt with hilarious consequences). House Of Pain's 1992 single "Shamrocks And Shenanigans (Boom Shalock Lock Boom)" uses a sample from Bowie's original, as do Public Enemy's 1988 single "Night Of The Living Baseheads", MC Lyte's "Put It On You" (from his 1998 album Seven On Seven), and Famouz's eponymous track "Famouz" (from his 2007 album Ghetto Passport). Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Dirty Run", recorded a week before his death in 2004 and released on his posthumous album Osirus, features him rapping over "Fame". Vanilla Ice, best known for sampling "Under Pressure" for "Ice Ice Baby", reworked "Fame" on his 1994 album Mind Blowin'. Bowie's original version reappeared in the soundtracks of the 1998 film A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries, 2000's Next Friday: Old School and 2013's Rush, while a new 4'50" remix by Jazzy Jay appeared on the 2005 compilation Hip Hop Roots. In 2008 "Fame" was featured in episodes of FX's plastic surgery melodrama Nip/Tuck and the BBC crime series Ashes To Ashes, and in 2014 it was used in a US Cadillac commercial.

FANNIN STREET (Waits/Brennan)

Bowie's second contribution to Scarlett Johansson's 2008 album Anywhere I Lay My Head takes the form of some soulful, multi-layered backing vocals on this lovely cover of an obscure Tom Waits number, originally found on the Waits-produced John P Hammond recording Wicked Grin in 2001, and later collected on the exhaustive and acclaimed 2006 Tom Waits rarities compilation Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards. "I loved Tom Wait's original and found it extremely haunting," Johansson explained in her album's liner notes. "I thought I could sing it, and I found it very charming. I just had no idea that David Bowie would end up doing this song with me."


  • Album: Lodger

  • B-Side: April 1979

  • B-Side: October 1982

  • Live: A Reality Tour

  • Live Video: A Reality Tour

After the forbidding musical architecture of Low and "Heroes" the opening track of Lodger is surprisingly serene, spurred gently along by Sean Mayes's lilting piano and the trio of Simon House, Adrian Belew and Tony Visconti strumming on mandolins borrowed from a Montreux music shop. The track was recorded under the working title "Portrait Of An Artist", but once furnished with lyrics and its new title, "Fantastic Voyage" became a heartfelt plea for sanity amid the nuclear escalation of the Carter/Brezhnev stand-off in the late 1970s, and thus Bowie's first "protest" lyric in many a long year. "It's a pretty straightforward song about how I feel in a very old-fashioned romantic fashion," he said. "One feels constantly that so many things are out of our control, and it's just this infuriating thing that you don't want to have their depression ruling your life or dictating how you will wake up each morning."

     It's a touching song that offers a less bombastic anti-nuclear prayer than the later "When The Wind Blows". The tone is wearily fatalistic ("We'll get by, I suppose") and suspicious of the motives of nationalism ("loyalty is valuable, but our lives are valuable too"), making for an unequivocal rejection of the Thin White Duke's more contentious proclamations. The track is melodically reminiscent of "Word On A Wing" and, as Visconti pointed out, it has "the exact same chord changes and structure, even the same key" as "Boys Keep Swinging" - "just the tempo and instrumentation are different".

     "Fantastic Voyage" became the B-side of two different UK singles (the first of them its close relative "Boys Keep Swinging", the second RCA's 1982 release of the Bing Crosby duet), and many years later it went on to make an impressive live debut on A Reality Tour. In 2003 Bowie described it as a song "which I've always liked and I've never done, so it's rather thrilling to do." It was a good choice politically as well as aesthetically: in the global climate of the Iraq War and its aftermath, the sentiments expressed in "Fantastic Voyage" had never seemed more appropriate. Another heartfelt live performance graced Bowie's final in-concert appearance, at the Black Ball charity event in New York on November 9th 2006.

     Among the artists who have played "Fantastic Voyage" live are John Wesley Harding and Steven Page, while studio versions include recordings by Stephanie Rearick on her 2005 album Star Belly and, in Hebrew, by the Israeli singer Noam Rotem on 2004's Human Warmth.

FASCINATION (Bowie/Vandross)

  • Album: Young Americans

As well as being the most unabashed homage to Gamble and Huff's "Philly" sound to be found on Young Americans, "Fascination" deserves a footnote in the history of black music as the first published credit for a then unknown young soul singer called Luther Vandross. He met Bowie at Sigma Sound in August 1974. "I was visiting my schoolmate Carlos Alomar in the studio," Vandross later recalled. "David overheard me singing a vocal idea of mine and immediately put me on the microphone. It was my first experience of recording and it cemented my desire to pursue a career in music." Vandross, who sang backing vocals at the Sigma Sound sessions and went on to accompany David on tour, receives a co-writing credit for "Fascination", which was recorded at New York's Record Plant in December 1974. The song consists of an original Bowie lyric grafted onto a close re-working of Vandross's composition "Funky Music (Is A Part Of Me)", which Vandross had sung in the Garson Band's support set on the Soul tour. Vandross later released his own recording of "Funky Music" as a single and on his 1976 album Luther. As for Bowie's opaque new lyric, both Peter Doggett and Chris O'Leary point to the illuminated "Fascination" nightclub sign in John Rechy's 1963 gay novel City Of Night, while Doggett further suggests that Bowie's topic might be the mesmeric definition of "fascination" as discussed in the 1974 book The Occult Reich, a fleetingly popular piece of flimflam about Hitler and black magic which impressed David at the time. Then again, as a key lyric from "Changes" bears witness, Bowie's fascination with the word "fascination" was nothing new.

     The version included on Rykodisc's Sound + Vision compilation, and subsequently on the 1991 reissue of Young Americans, is a different mix, boasting some more prominent reverb in the opening bars. Subsequent reissues reverted to the original version.

     Fat Larry's Band, later to enjoy a massive hit with "Zoom", released a cover version of "Fascination" as a single in 1976. Like much of Young Americans the song remained absent from Bowie's live sets, although in 1985 it was shortlisted for his Live Aid show. Ultimately - and apparently against David's wishes - it lost out to the more obviously crowd-pleasing "Modern Love".


  • Album: Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)

  • A-Side: October 1980

  • A-Side: November 2002

  • Live: Glass Spider (2007 CD/DVD Release)

  • Compilation: Club Bowie

  • Video: The Video Collection/Best Of Bowie

  • Live Video: Serious Moonlight/Glass Spider

The second Scary Monsters single evolved from a basic riff with the working title "Jamaica", a name that highlights its hardcore fusion of funk and reggae. Like most of Scary Monsters, the lyric was written in London several months after the backing track was recorded, and Tony Visconti later recalled that Bowie nearly dropped the song altogether because he was struggling to find the right words: "I implored him to write a lyric because this was probably the most modern and commercial-sounding track on the album," Visconti wrote in his autobiography. "He returned to the studio early the next day announcing, 'I've got it!' This was the last vocal we recorded for the album, and mixing commenced that evening." It was also during the London sessions that "Fashion" acquired its distinctive "whoop whoop" intro, which Visconti explained was keyboardist Andy Clark's sequencer making an "oddly chosen sound for a 'click', to follow when one programmes a part. It ended up as a kind of reggae upstroke for most of the song."

     Although the bassline and some of the melody were lifted straight from Bowie's earlier hit "Golden Years" (you can hum the one along to the other with no problem at all), the addition of a classic deadpan lyric and Robert Fripp's trademark guitar squeals gave "Fashion" an edge all its own. It became a popular choice for catwalk fashion shows, where the scornful irony of the lyric presumably went unnoticed. "I do think that fashion is funny, really funny," David said. "It's so nonsensical. We don't have to do it." The ridiculous exclusivity of the London and the New York club scenes at the turn of the 1980s provides another springboard, but "Fashion" has a wider constituency, cocking a snook at the transient ephemera not only of music and dance, but implicitly of politics and power. The "turn to the left, turn to the right" chorus and the "listen to me, don't listen to me" middle eight both reflect Bowie's shifting fortunes as a celebrity figurehead and style guru over the preceding decade.

     A handwritten lyric sheet displayed at the David Bowie is exhibition reveals that the song's title was one of the last elements to fall into place: the heading reads "Stand by your station boys", although it's unclear whether this is another working title or a deleted opening line, perhaps to be spoken over the intro. In the chorus, the words "Shoo shoo" are crossed out in a new colour and replaced with "Fashion". Other deleted lyrics expose the song's violent undertow: "Hell up ahead, burn a flag / Shake a fist, start a fight / If you're covered in blood / You're doing it right", and later "We'll break every bone / We'll turn you upside down."

     In 1980 David explained that the song was "to do with that dedication to fashion. I was trying to move on a little from that Ray Davies concept of fashion; to suggest more of a gritted teeth determination and an unsureness about why one's doing it. But one has to do it, rather like one goes to the dentist and has the tooth drilled...I must say I did feel it when I was in London. I was taken to one extraordinary place by Steve Strange...Everybody was in Victorian clothes. I suppose they were part of the new new wave or the permanent wave or whatever." Apparently oblivious to the track's lambasting of their own "gritted teeth determination", London's Blitz kids adopted "Fashion" as their signature tune, while further evidence that the lyric was falling on deaf ears could be found in the hilariously un-ironic "interpretation" of the number undertaken in November 1980 by resident Top Of The Pops dance troupe Legs & Co.

     It seems entirely likely that Bowie's "talk to me, don't talk to me, dance with me, don't dance with me" lyric owes a debt to the Boomtown Rats' huge 1978 hit "Rat Trap" ("walk, don't walk, talk, don't talk"), but if anything David was returning a tip of the hat. "Rat Trap" was Britain's first new wave number 1, famously ending the seven-week residency of "Summer Nights" with the spectacle of Bob Geldof ripping up a photo of John Travolta on Top Of The Pops. Geldof was a big fan - he had even blagged his way backstage to meet David during the Station To Station tour - and with its Bowie-esque sax solo and angsty narrative about a suicidal boy called Billy, "Rat Trap" was a post-punk "All The Young Dudes": a bittersweet soundtrack for teenagers betrayed by Callaghan's Britain and disaffected by the cultural ascendancy of disco. In 1979 Bowie's director David Mallet had shot the Rats' most feted video, "I Don't Like Mondays"; and interestingly, given the reggae basis of "Fashion", Tony Visconti's next production after Scary Monsters was the Rats' 1980 album Mondo Bongo, whose reggae-styled single "Banana Republic" gave an already waning band its last top ten hit.

     Nearly five minutes long on Scary Monsters, "Fashion" was edited for its single release and reached a respectable number 5 in the UK chart (yet again ABBA were at the top spot, this time with "Super Trouper"), although in America it limped to number 70. Owing to Bowie's Elephant Man commitments, David Mallet's video was shot in Manhattan, partly at the Hurrah nightclub also used in the film Christiane F. Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo. Alongside Carlos Alomar, the musicians miming in the video included Hall & Oates guitarist G E Smith and The Rumour's drummer Stephen Goulding, both of whom had recently played with Bowie on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. Depicting David and his backing musicians as gum-chewing tough guys, intercut with shots of rehearsing dancers and a bizarre parade of New Romantic freaks queuing at a skid-row soup kitchen (they include John Lennon's sometime girlfriend and Tony Visconti's future wife May Pang, who was dating David at the time and provides a "Beep beep" to camera), the video crystallises the song's anxiety about misplaced idolatry and style-leadership. In the first "listen to me/don't listen to me" sequence the camera cuts rapidly between Bowie on stage and an immobile, expressionless and by implication mindless audience. In the second we see Bowie both as performer (shot from below) and as fan (shot from above), enacting the dialogue with his own alter ego - an idea he would take further in his "Blue Jean" promo. More subtly, the wilfully ludicrous dance moves David performs towards the beginning of the clip (nose-twitching, face-rubbing, a curious sort of kangaroo-hop, and an adaptation of the expansive drop-to-the-floor-while-arching-the-arm gesture previously seen in the "Ashes To Ashes" clip) have all, by the end of the video, been adopted and assimilated by the dancers in the cutaway shots, as if spread by some baleful infection. The implication is clear: the icon has only to twitch his nose and the fans will follow suit. Bowie's distaste of precisely this phenomenon is one of the pervasive themes of Scary Monsters.

     The "Fashion" video won plaudits every bit as warm as those bestowed on its predecessor "Ashes To Ashes". Speaking of both, the New York Times commented on "the brilliant way they are edited and how they expand on the music itself, rather than merely accompanying it or even contradicting it. These little shorts are genuine music theatre in a new and modern guise...The real hero of the rock-video revolution so far is that perennial pioneer David Bowie." In Britain the readers of Record Mirror concurred, voting "Ashes To Ashes" and "Fashion" the best videos of 1980.

     "Fashion" made live appearances on the Serious Moonlight, Glass Spider, Sound + Vision, Earthling, Heathen and A Reality tours, and featured as a duet with Frank Black at Bowie's fiftieth birthday concert. The 1997 version was of particular note, stripped of any "greatest hits" connotations by an aggressively visceral bassline and a shocking set of skin-flick back-projections. Less impressive was "Fashion 98", a feckless rap version which gave Glamma Kid a minor UK hit in 1998. In November 2002 a radical dance remix by the London-based producer Solaris, re-titled "Shout" (after the line "You shout it while you're dancing", which it repeats ad nauseam), was released as a 12" single. Credited to "Solaris vs Bowie", it failed to repeat the chart success of the same year's Scumfrog remix of "Loving The Alien", and subsequently reappeared on Club Bowie. Another sample from the original "Fashion" appeared in "I Am A Scientist", a track on The Dandy Warhols' 2003 album Welcome To The Monkey House, for which Bowie duly received a co-writing credit. Another souped-up cover version called "Ooooh Fashion", afflicted by a new verse melody and lyrics, was included on the 2006 album Forever Diamondz, a tentacle of the marketing monster spawned by MGA Entertainment's Bratz Dolls ("We are the Bratz and now we're coming to town" - there ought to be laws against this sort of thing). Not to be outdone, the Spice Girls performed "Fashion" on their 2008 comeback tour, while a cover version by the Australian comedian and broadcaster Shaun Micallef appeared on his 2009 album On His Generation. In August 2011 the cast of Glee unveiled their version. Bowie's original recording featured in the soundtracks of 1995's Clueless and 2004's Raising Helen, and on August 12th 2012 it provided the soundtrack for a flamboyant celebration of British fashion during the closing ceremony of the London Olympics which, as ever, either ignored or was unaware of the song's scathing sense of irony.


FILL YOUR HEART (Rose/Williams)

  • Album: Hunky Dory

The only non-Bowie composition on this most songwriterly of albums is the work of American singer/songwriter Biff Rose and collaborator Paul Williams. The original version hails from Rose's 1968 LP The Thorn In Mrs Rose's Side, but it's likely that Bowie first came across the song in the form of the cover version backing Tiny Tim's infamous novelty single "Tiptoe Through The Tulips". Biff Rose, described by Bowie as "a flower-power Randy Newman", became a significant influence on David at the end of the 1960s: echoes of various songs on The Thorn In Mrs Rose's Side can be found in "Conversation Piece", "The Prettiest Star", "The Supermen", "Oh! You Pretty Things", and in particular "Shadow Man". Another track on Rose's album is the whimsical "Buzz The Fuzz", which Bowie performed live at around the same time. Small wonder that he later conceded that "Biff Rose is reflected a lot in the style of songwriting" on Hunky Dory as a whole.

     One of the more up-tempo offerings on Hunky Dory, "Fill Your Heart" was in Bowie's live repertoire as early as 1970, although the jaunty piano-led album arrangement is considerably more sophisticated than the acoustic guitar accompaniment of his earlier live renditions. Interestingly, the guitar intro of the live version (as immortalised by two BBC sessions in 1970 and 1971) is practically identical to the intro of Bowie's forthcoming classic "John, I'm Only Dancing".

     "Fill Your Heart" replaced "Bombers" as Hunky Dory's side two opener at a late stage in the album's development. The song sits happily enough alongside the post-hippy whimsy of "Kooks", and its paean to positive thinking and the folkloric evocation of "dragons" strikes a chord with earlier Bowie compositions. Despite lacking the lyrical and musical depth of the album's highlights, it provides a cogent counterpoint to the angst of "Quicksand" and "Changes" with its cautionary warnings: "don't play the game of time" and "forget your mind and you'll be free". The track is likely to be best remembered, however, for David's pleasing saxophone break, Mick Ronson's lilting strings, and the spectacular dexterity of Rick Wakeman's piano solo. As Bowie acknowledges in Hunky Dory's handwritten liner notes, the arrangement is remarkably faithful to that created by Arthur G Wright for Biff Rose's original recording - but Wakeman, Ronson and Bowie succeed in lifting the song to a new level. Rose sings most of "Fill Your Heart" straight on the beat, whereas Bowie brings a nimble swing to the proceedings, loosening up the song and, appropriately enough given the lyric, freeing it wonderfully. David nonetheless takes his cues from Biff, who also lifts into falsetto on that last extended "Fuh-reeeee!". Bowie does it better, but Biff did it first.

     Bowie finally met the flower-power Randy Newman in New York in January 1973, when he took Geoff MacCormack to see Rose perform at Max's Kansas City. "To be honest, his set wasn't my cup of tea and I think David was underwhelmed," recalled MacCormack, although the evening was redeemed by the next act, a then unknown Bruce Springsteen. In 2009 Biff Rose, whose online presence reveals a vexatious spirit with much to say on the subject of old rivalries, recalled the encounter thus (the ellipses, a feature of Biff's highly individual prose style, are all his own): "Bowie is witless...he wanted to meet me...he stared smiling like a corpse stuck up the Cheshire cat...and I told him 'Hey thanks for doing "Fill Your Heart" but did you have to cop the whole arrangement...I mean couldn't you have done your own treatment of it?' He couldn't...being as he's an Bruce Springsteen's initials..."

     Bowie's "Fill Your Heart" played over the opening titles of the first episode of the 1993 BBC serial The Buddha Of Suburbia.


FIRE GIRL (Pop/Bowie)

Co-written and co-produced by Bowie for Iggy Pop's Blah-Blah-Blah, and released as a single in 1987. A demo, featuring backing vocals from David, appears on the Iggy Pop compilation Where The Faces Shine: Volume 2.


  • Album: Ziggy Stardust

  • Live: Stage/Santa Monica '72/Bowie At The Beeb/A Reality Tour/Live Nassau Coliseum '76 (included on 2010 Reissue of Station To Station)

  • Download: November 2005

  • Live Video: Best Of Bowie/A Reality Tour

The slow-quick-quick drumbeat that begins Ziggy Stardust has earned a place in rock history as one of the all-time classic album openings. "Five Years" gradually builds from wistful inevitability to apocalyptic terror as the news breaks that the end of the world is five years hence. Both the claustrophobic drum pattern and the building intensity of the screaming vocal are reminiscent of John Lennon's 1970 album John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band, and in particular its opening track "Mother", which Bowie would cover many years later. The half-sung, half-spoken vocal style is indebted to Lou Reed, the gathering omens of doom are passingly reminiscent of Julius Caesar, but the violent images of societal breakdown are straight from The War Of The Worlds and Day Of The Triffids, signalling the essence of Bowie's new subject matter: human longing and bruised relationships, expressed in the poignantly tacky idiom of British sci-fi. Once again the theatrical process of dissimulation echoes Bowie's own sense of alienation: on Hunky Dory he was "living in a silent film", and now he feels "like an actor" as, Frankenstein-like, he breathes life into his new creation: "your face, your race, the way that you talk / I kiss you, you're beautiful, I want you to walk". The spirit of Ziggy has arrived, and in one of the album's finest songs.

     As elsewhere on Ziggy Stardust, the vocabulary is precise and revealing in its deployment of an American slang that rings consciously alien through Bowie's frail London vowels. His adulation of "the way that you talk" reaffirms the album's fantasies of Americana: here are a "news guy" and a "cop" (both more jarringly American in 1972 than now), and the adoption of the American abbreviation "TV" (rather than "telly") allows a submerged pun on "transvestite" to accompany the song's other outsiders: "the black", "the priest" and "the queer". With a flock of misfits and minorities gathering around him, Bowie's final exhortation "I want you to walk" acquires a second, messianic resonance: here is Ziggy raising the crippled and the dead. It's a classic example of the dexterity and economy of Bowie's best songwriting: with its scant few lines "Five Years" drips with implication.

     In his November 1973 interview for Rolling Stone, Bowie extrapolated on the scenario established in "Five Years": "It has been announced that the world will end because of lack of natural resources. Ziggy is in a position where all the kids have access to things that they thought they wanted. The older people have lost all touch with reality and the kids are left on their own to plunder anything. Ziggy was in a rock 'n' roll band and the kids no longer want rock 'n' roll. There's no electricity to play it. Ziggy's adviser tells him to collect news and sing it, 'cause there is no news. So Ziggy does this and there is terrible news." Although relatively coherent by comparison with some of Bowie's utterances of the period, this account seems to raise more questions than it answers. Later in the 1970s, in response to a question about his much-publicised fear of flying, David claimed that the original inspiration for the song had been a dream in which his father's ghost had warned him never to fly again, adding that he had only five years to live. An even more surprising source is Roger McGough's poem "At Lunchtime - A Story Of Love", which Bowie had included in his cabaret act in 1968. It's a tragicomic tale of the sexual abandon that breaks out on a bus when news arrives that the world will end at lunchtime, and includes several images Bowie would adapt for "Five Years": at one point the bus stops suddenly "to avoid / damaging a mother and child in the road", while the bus conductor "struck up / some sort of relationship with the driver".

     The album track was completed at Trident on November 15th 1971. "Five Years" was later included in the BBC session recorded on January 18th 1972 (this recording appears on Bowie At The Beeb), and a further version graced Bowie's Old Grey Whistle Test set recorded on February 7th, later appearing on the Best Of Bowie DVD. The song featured throughout the Ziggy Stardust and Station To Station tours (a superb rendition appeared on The Dinah Shore Show on January 3rd 1976), and surfaced once again on the Stage tour. In 1985 "Five Years" was due to be featured in Bowie's Live Aid set, but David volunteered to drop the number in favour of introducing an appeal film. "Five Years" would not be performed again until 2003, when it made a triumphant reappearance on A Reality Tour. Bowie's subsequent performance of "Five Years" with Arcade Fire at the Fashion Rocks concert on September 8th 2005 was released as a download.

     Among the artists who have covered "Five Years" are former Marillion frontman Fish, Frank Sidebottom, The Enemy and The Temper Trap. The song has been played live by Placebo, Low Max, Golden Smog, Aslan, Ramona, Camille O'Sullivan, and The Polyphonic Spree, whose BBC session recording was included on their 2002 single "Hanging Around". A Portuguese cover version was recorded by Seu Jorge for the soundtrack of 2004's The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, while Bowie's original features in the 2007 film What We Do Is Secret. In 2009 celebrity chef and food campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall included "Five Years" among his choices on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs.


  • Album: Heathen

  • Download: January 2010

This mournful song of dashed hopes and emotional isolation was one of Bowie's favourite tracks from Heathen. Over an icy backing of percussion and a simple, repetitive guitar phrase, he sings a sparse lyric of disappointment and rejection ("I'm changing trains, this little town let me down...I'm jumping tracks, I'm changing towns...cold station, all of my life, forever, I'm out of here, forever"), recalling the image of the despondent loner packing up and leaving town who is a recurring figure throughout Bowie's songwriting, from early numbers like "Can't Help Thinking About Me" and "Little Bombadier" to later compositions like "Be My Wife" and "Move On". In this instance the occasion of the character's disappointment appears to be lost love ("We never talk any more / Forever I will adore only you...Angels like them, thin on the ground") but, as ever, the possibilities run deeper. "A man who could once see his angels - hopes and aspirations, maybe - can't see them any more," David explained, "and he blames the crushing dumbness of life for it."

     The 5.1 remix on the Heathen SACD is some 24 seconds longer than the CD version. "5.15 The Angels Have Gone" was performed throughout the Heathen and A Reality tours, appearing in the BBC radio session of September 18th 2002 and also on the edition of Later...With Jools Holland recorded two days later. A version recorded in Dublin on November 23rd 2003 was released as a download-only bonus track to accompany 2010's A Reality Tour album.


Apparently dating from June 1967, this Bowie composition was considered for inclusion in the abortive film project A Floral Tale.


  • Bonus: Reality

Released on the limited-edition bonus disc that came with initial pressings of Reality, this spirited out-take from the 2001 Heathen sessions features a contribution from Bowie's veteran guitarist Carlos Alomar, who provides the powerful but jaunty riff (melodically, rhythmically, and in all likelihood unintentionally reminiscent of ABBA's 1980 number "On And On And On") after an opening salvo of distortion and feedback.

     Lyrically, "Fly" anticipates the domestic American angst of Reality tracks like "New Killer Star" and "She'll Drive The Big Car"; this time the focus is on the catalogue of anxiety and depression eating away at a middle-class family man, perhaps a more sympathetic relative of the protagonist in songs like "Repetition" and "I'm Afraid Of Americans". "I'm crying in my car", he confesses, confiding that although "The kids are alright" (once again Pete Townshend casts his shadow over a Bowie lyric), "The boys on a charge but his mother doesn't know / I never got around yet to telling her so / It would only make her crazy". The only escape is of a desperate and fantastical kind: "I'll be fine / I'm only screaming in my head / I can fly / I close my eyes and I can fly". It's a dark, depressive variation on the fantasy of "astral flight" explored by 1967's tongue-in-cheek "Did You Ever Have A Dream". Nearly four decades later, "Fly" is another song of dreams, but they're dreams of an altogether more fearful and delusional kind.

A FOGGY DAY IN LONDON TOWN (G. Gershwin/I. Gershwin)

  • Compilation: Red Hot  + Rhapsody

Bowie's moody cover of the Gershwin standard (from the 1937 film musical A Damsel In Distress) was recorded in 1998 in collaboration with Twin Peaks composer Angelo Badalamenti, and released on the Gershwin centenary charity album Red Hot + Rhapsody. The impetus behind the recording came from Badalamenti: "The song always was treated with a lively, swing, upbeat feel," he explained in 2016, "but I had other ideas about it. I could do this song in a totally different way, take the tempo real slow, turn it a little bit abstract, and yet keep the beauty of the song itself." Badalamenti's demo was sent to several vocalists, and Bowie contacted him immediately to offer his services, apparently beating Bono to the job. Badalamenti recalled that David used "a big voice" for his first vocal take, but the composer suggested to him that "Less is more". He looked at me square in the eyes and he said, 'I understand,' and he brought his voice down to a sotto voce, beautifully soft and warm and laid back, and in one take nailed the thing. And what you hear on that record is exactly that. It was a dream come true, and it's a beautiful, beautiful recording."

FOOT STOMPING (Collins/Rand)

  • Live: RarestOneBowie

During the 1974 Soul tour, David augmented his Young Americans material with a hard-edged funk medley of The Flares' 1961 single "Foot Stomping" and the ancient blues number "Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate", as performed by the 1930s New Orleans jazz diva Blue Lu Barker. Bowie's rendition of "Sister Kate" was based on the 1960 single by The Olympics, whose arrangement was also co-opted by The Beatles when they performed the number in their early live sets (a version can be heard on the Live! At The Star Club In Hamburg, Germany album recorded in 1962).

     On November 2nd 1974 Bowie and his band performed the "Foot Stomping/Sister Kate" medley on The Dick Cavett Show. This recording later appeared on RarestOneBowie. Two attempts were apparently made to record a studio version of "Foot Stomping" at around the same time, and it was with a view to a third that Bowie entered Electric Lady studios in January 1975 for the session that would instead produce "Fame", founded on Carlos Alomar's "Foot Stomping" riff.


  • Album: Pin Ups

A UK number 6 in 1966 for The Easybeats (and a chart-topper in their native Australia), "Friday On My Mind" opens side two of Pin Ups with the band on top form, while Bowie delivers a curiously unsteady vocal performance, veering between his Aladdin Sane falsetto and his finest Anthony Newley.



  • Album:


Originating on the Earthling tour as the extended drum'n'bass workout "Is It Any Wonder" (see "Fame"), this elusive 1997 composition was later radically redeveloped in the studio. Having gained a new set of lyrics the track was initially referred to by Reeves Gabrels in various interviews as "Funhouse", but was later re-titled "Fun". Both the darkly funky bass-driven beat and the techno-trance lyrics recall the Iggy Pop tracks "Funtime" and "Fun House" ("Back into the funhouse, music is sublime...We'll show you a really good time, we all lie in the funhouse..."). A pair of in-house Virgin CD-Rs included a total of five mixes by Danny Saber. The "Clownboy Mix" appeared on a CD-ROM offered to BowieNet subscribers in 1998, followed by a downloadable "Live Version" hailing from the Amsterdam gig on June 10th 1997. The otherwise unavailable "Dillinja Mix" later appeared on


FUNTIME (Pop/Bowie)


"Funtime" was produced and co-written by Bowie for Iggy Pop's The Idiot. The robotic backing and burned-out, joyless vocals (David's are almost as prominent as Iggy's) offer a chilling backward glimpse at the pair's hedonistic excesses in Los Angeles, an ironic dissection of the pursuit of pleasure in which "fun" has long since evaporated. The drum pattern and thrashed guitars offer further evidence of Bowie's interest in Neu!, whose 1973 track "Lila Engel" provides a clear template. "He had the music and I brought the lyrics to it," Iggy later recalled. "He told me to sing it like Mae West, like a bitch who wants to make money." Bowie's characteristically off-the-wall injunction gave the song a fresh dimension, making it, in Iggy's words, "informed of other genres, like cinema. Also, it was a little bit gay. The vocals there became more menacing  as a result of that suggestion."

     Live versions from Iggy's 1977 tour, featuring Bowie on keyboards, can be heard on various Iggy releases. "Funtime" has long been a favourite with other artists; among those who have covered the song are Blondie, Duran Duran, REM, Boy George, The Cars, That Petrol Emotion and Peter Murphy.



  • Album: Diamond Dogs


The opening track of Diamond Dogs aggressively heralds David's latest vision. A ghostly Hound Of The Baskervilles howl fades into a nightmarish synthesized rendition of "Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered", over which Bowie's narration sketches in the post-apocalyptic hell of Hunger City, where "the last few corpses lay rotting in the slimy thoroughfare" and, in a manner sure to terrify Orwell's Winston Smith, "fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats" (a line for which Chris O'Leary identifies a possible source in Ray Bradbury's 1962 novel Something Wicked This Way Comes: "rats which fed on spiders which fed, in turn, because they were large enough, on cats"). The influence of William Burroughs is never clearer than in Bowie's image of "ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes coveting the highest of the sterile skyscrapers, like packs of dogs", an echo of The Wild Boys with its "wild boys in the streets whole packs of them vicious as famished dogs". At the climax comes one of David's earliest tips of the hat to another idol, as he mimics Scott Walker's 1973 rendition of the Bacharach-Hilliard standard "Any Day Now". Even more so than on previous albums, Bowie is now openly acknowledging his own systematic "ripping and re-wrapping" of himself and his music.

     During some dates of the Diamond Dogs tour a pre-recorded tape of "Future Legend" preceded the title song, although surprisingly this was never the opening number. The backing tapes were often abandoned due to technical difficulties, and were scrapped altogether for the Soul tour.

The Fairground
Fall Dog Bombs The Moon
Fall In Love With Me
Falling Down
Fannin Street
Fantastic Voyage
Feed The World
Fill Your Heart
A Fleeting Moment
Fire Girl
Five Years
5.15 The Angels Have Gone
Flower Song
A Foggy Day In London Town
Foot Stomping
Friday On My Mind
Fujimoto San
Funky Music (Is A Part Of Me)
Future Legend
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