Boys Keep Swinging
|"Boys Keep Swinging"|
|Single by David Bowie|
|from the album Lodger|
|Released||27 April 1979|
|Recorded||Mountain Studios, Montreux, September 1978; Record Plant Studios, New York, March 1979|
|Writer(s)||David Bowie, Brian Eno|
|Producer||David Bowie, Tony Visconti|
|David Bowie singles chronology|
Recording and release
During the Lodger recording sessions, Bowie had wanted to capture a garage band style for the track, and decided the best way to achieve this sound was to get the band to swap instruments. Guitarist Carlos Alomar played drums and drummer Dennis Davis played bass. The final result had a post-punk feel[according to whom?].
"Boys Keep Swinging" has exactly the same chord sequence as the song "Fantastic Voyage" from the same album ("Fantastic Voyage" was also the B-side to the single of "Boys Keep Swinging"). Bowie's deep voice satirised machismo, while the lyrics juxtaposed depictions of male privilege and homoeroticism ("When you're a boy, other boys check you out"). When this was combined with David Mallet's video, which featured a suited Bowie backed by three "female" vocalists who were revealed to be the singer in drag, RCA decided against releasing the single in the US, choosing "Look Back in Anger" instead. Bowie performed the track with a puppet body special effect on Saturday Night Live on 15 December 1979, joined by Klaus Nomi as backing singer. During the broadcast NBC censors muted the "other boys check you out" line, but failed to notice the puppet's bouncing phallus at the close of the song.
The song reached #7 in the UK, returning Bowie to the top 10 of the Singles chart for the first time since "Sound and Vision" in February 1977. It has only been performed on one of Bowie tours to date, the 1995 Outside Tour. Interviewed in 2000, Bowie said the following about the song: "I do not feel that there is anything remotely glorious about being either male or female. I was merely playing on the idea of the colonization of gender."
- "Boys Keep Swinging" (Bowie, Eno) – 3:17
- "Fantastic Voyage" (Bowie) – 2:55
- David Bowie: vocals, guitar on "Boys Keep Swinging", piano on "Fantastic Voyage"
- Adrian Belew: guitar on "Boys Keep Swinging", mandolin on "Fantastic Voyage"
- Dennis Davis: bass on "Boys Keep Swinging", percussion on "Fantastic Voyage"
- Tony Visconti: bass on "Boys Keep Swinging", backing vocals, mandolin on "Fantastic Voyage"
- Carlos Alomar: drums on "Boys Keep Swinging"
- Brian Eno: piano on "Boys Keep Swinging", ambient drone on "Fantastic Voyage"
- Simon House: violin on "Boys Keep Swinging", mandolin on "Fantastic Voyage"
- Sean Mayes: piano on "Fantastic Voyage"
- The song appeared on the following compilations:
- It was released as a picture disc in the Fashions Picture Disc Set.
- A Camp - Covers (EP) / Love Has Left the Room (2009)
- AFX - Ashes to Ashes: A Tribute to David Bowie (1998)
- The Associates - Released as a single in 1979 without copyright permission as a publicity stunt (it worked, the band landing a record deal soon afterwards). This version is included on Starman: Rare and Exclusive Versions of 18 Classic David Bowie Songs, CD premium from the March 2003 issue of Uncut magazine.
- The Dambuilders - Crash Course for the Ravers - A Tribute to the Songs of David Bowie (1996)
- Mr Russia - .2 Contamination: A Tribute to David Bowie (2006)
- The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower - INRI (2006)
- Sarah Harding - St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold (Original Soundtrack) (2009)
- Screamfeeder - Home Age (1999)
- Shihad - Single
- Susanna Hoffs - When You're a Boy (1991) and David Bowie Songbook
- Blur's 1997 track "M.O.R." heavily borrowed the rhythm and harmonic structure of the song, and after legal intervention, was credited to "Blur/Bowie/Eno".
- Duran Duran in We Were So Turned On: A Tribute to David Bowie (2010).
- Hirsute Pursuit Tighten That Muscle Ring (2012). Vocals by Boyd Rice.
- Abdulmajid, Iman (2000), "Watch That Man", Bust magazine: 32–33
- Pegg, Nicholas, The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-14-5