It's No Game

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"It's No Game"
Song by David Bowie from the album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Released 12 September 1980
Recorded The Power Station, New York, February 1980 (No. 1, No. 2); Good Earth Studios, London, April 1980 (No. 1)
Genre Hard rock, new wave, post-punk
Length 4:15 (No. 1)
4:22 (No. 2)
Label RCA Records
Writer David Bowie
Producer David Bowie, Tony Visconti
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) track listing
"It's No Game"
(1)
"Up the Hill Backwards"
(2)

"Because You're Young"
(9)

"It's No Game (No. 2)"
(10)

"It's No Game" is a song written by David Bowie for the 1980 album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), featuring lead guitar played by Robert Fripp. The song is in two parts, opening and closing the album. The first part featured lyrics sung in Japanese, making it the "most obvious target" of the Hee Bee Gee Bees' Bowie parody "Quite Ahead of My Time" (1981), which featured a voice calling out the names of Japanese cars.[1]

Music and lyrics[edit]

The song contains lyrics and a vocal melody borrowed from an early unreleased Bowie song called "Tired of My Life", demoed in 1970 but said to have been written when he was 16.[1]

No. 1[edit]

The lyrics to "It's No Game (No. 1)" are spoken in Japanese by Michi Hirota, with Bowie screaming the English translation "as if he's literally tearing out his intestines", according to NME editors Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray.[2] Bowie said that he employed a strident female vocal "to break down a particular kind of sexist attitude" regarding Japanese girls and women in general.[3]

No. 2[edit]

In contrast to the musical and vocal intensity of the first part, "It's No Game (No. 2)" is much calmer; Carr and Murray interpreted this as meaning that by the album's close, Bowie is "facing the same situation which he confronted when the album began, but with the force of his rage somewhat spent. Things haven't improved, but he's taking it better."[2]

Other releases[edit]

  • "It's No Game (No. 1)" was released as the B-side of the US version of the single "Ashes to Ashes" in August 1980.
  • In Japan it was released as a single in 1980 with "Fashion" as the B-side.
  • A specially created pressing featuring both parts 1 and 2 for the first time on 7" vinyl was included with the book Speed of Life (Genesis Publications, 2012) released in a limited edition of 2,000 copies signed by Bowie and photographer Maysayoshi Sukita. The picture vinyl features photography by Sukita.

Cover versions[edit]

  • Born to Worry - A version called "It's No Game Part 3" on the album Loving the Alien: Athens Georgia Salutes David Bowie.
  • Nine Inch Nails - Guitar samples from the Bowie song, slowed and in reverse, on "Pinion" from the EP Broken;[1] the sample is more clearly heard in the intro tape played prior to most Nine Inch Nails concerts.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: pp.108-109
  2. ^ a b Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: pp.112-113
  3. ^ David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story: p.374