The Hearts Filthy Lesson

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"The Hearts Filthy Lesson"
Single by David Bowie
from the album Outside
B-side "I Am with Name"
Released September 1995 (1995-09)
Format 7"/12"/CD single
Recorded Mountain Studios, Montreux, March 1994
Genre Industrial rock
Length 3:32
Label RCA - 74321 307034
Producer(s) David Bowie, Brian Eno, David Richards
David Bowie singles chronology
"The Buddha of Suburbia"
(1993)
"The Hearts Filthy Lesson"
(1995)
"Strangers When We Meet"
(1995)

"The Hearts Filthy Lesson" is a song by David Bowie, from his 1995 album Outside, and issued as a single ahead of the album. It showcased Bowie's new, industrial-influenced sound. The lack of an apostrophe in the title is deliberate[citation needed]. Lyrically, the single connects with the rest of the album, with Bowie offering a lament to "tyrannical futurist" Ramona A. Stone, a theme continued in subsequent songs. The song is also meant to confront Bowie's own perceptions about the ritual creation and degradation of art.

Critical reception to the song was generally tepid, though it would be re-evaluated by many critics when heard in the context of the Outside soon afterwards. Considering its defiantly noncommercial sound, the song did well to reach UK No. 35, also breaking Bowie's US chart drought (which stretched back to "Never Let Me Down" in 1987) by briefly peaking at US No. 92.

An immediate favourite at Bowie's live concerts, "The Hearts Filthy Lesson" had its cult status sealed when it was featured over the closing titles of David Fincher's 1995 film Se7en, a film which mirrored the video's grimy visuals.

The single contained an "Alt. Mix" remixed by Trent Reznor and Dave Ogilvie with Chris Vrenna.

Music video[edit]

The video featured a montage of art-style mutilations and gory objets d'art and was subsequently edited when shown on MTV. The clip was directed by Samuel Bayer, the man behind Nirvana's classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video. In interviews, Bowie commented on the "ritual art" aspects of Outside:

My input revolved around the idea of ritual art—what options were there open to that kind of quasi-sacrificial blood-obsessed sort of art form? And the idea of a neo-paganism developing—especially in America—with the advent of the new cults of tattooing and scarification and piercings and all that. I think people have a real need for some spiritual life and I think there's great spiritual starving going on. There's a hole that's been vacated by an authoritative religious body—the judaeo-Christian ethic doesn't seem to embrace all the things that people actually need to have dealt with in that way—and it's sort of been left to popular culture to soak up the leftover bits like violence and sex.

—Ian Penman, “The Resurrection of Saint Dave,” Esquire Magazine (October 1995)

Track listing[edit]

  • All songs credited to Bowie/Eno/Gabrels/Kizilcay/Campbell. Except "Nothing to be Desired" credited to Bowie/Eno.

CD version[edit]

  1. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Radio Edit)"–3:32
  2. "I Am With Name"–4:06
  3. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Bowie Mix)"–4:56
  4. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Alt. Mix)"–5:19

US CD version[edit]

  1. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Album version)"–4:57
  2. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Simenon Mix)"–5:01
  3. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Alt. Mix)"–5:19
  4. "Nothing to Be Desired"–2:15

US promo CD version[edit]

  1. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Radio Edit)"–3:32
  2. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Simenon Mix)"–5:01
  3. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Alt. Mix)"–5:19
  4. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Album version)"–4:57

European Shaped CD version[edit]

  1. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Alt. Mix)"–5:19
  2. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Bowie Mix)"–4:56

UK 12" version[edit]

  1. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Alt. Mix)"–5:19
  2. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Bowie Mix)"–4:56
  3. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Rubber Mix)"–7:41
  4. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Simple Text Mix)"–6:38
  5. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Filthy Mix)"–5:51

UK 12" 1 track promo version[edit]

  1. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Alt. Mix)"–5:19

UK 12" 3 track promo version[edit]

  1. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Rubber Mix)"–7:41
  2. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Simple Text Mix)"–6:38
  3. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Filthy Mix)"–5:51

UK 12" picture disc version[edit]

  1. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Alt. Mix)"–5:19
  2. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Bowie Mix)"–4:57
  3. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Rubber Mix)"–7:41
  4. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Simple Text Mix)"–6:38
  5. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Filthy Mix)"–5:51

US 12" promo version[edit]

  1. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Good Karma Mix)"–5:01
  2. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Alt. Mix)"–5:19
  3. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Bowie Mix)"–4:57
  4. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Rubber Mix)"–7:41
  5. "The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Filthy Mix)"–5:51

Production credits[edit]

Live versions[edit]

  • Bowie performed the song during his 50th birthday celebration concert in New York City on 9 January 1997, and this performance was included on the "Earthling in the City" CD.
  • A version recorded in July 1997 at the Phoenix Festival in England was released on the live album LiveAndWell.com in 2000.

Other releases[edit]

  • It was released on the European release of the single "Hallo Spaceboy".
  • The "Rubber Mix" was released on the Japanese version of the single "Hallo Spaceboy", the Japanese release of Outside - Version 2 and on the bonus disc of the 2004 limited 2CD edition of Outside.
  • The "Good Karma mix" was released on a limited UK version of the single "Dead Man Walking" in April 1997.
  • The radio edit version was included on the compilation album Best of Bowie (US/Canada 2002).
  • Several of the remixes was released on the 2004 limited 2CD edition of Outside.
  • The song was also featured in the 1997 television movie House of Frankenstein.

References[edit]

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