Young Americans (song)

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"Young Americans"
Single by David Bowie
from the album Young Americans
B-side "Suffragette City"
Released 21 February 1975 (1975-02-21)
Format 7" single
Recorded Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia; 11 August 1974 (1974-08-11)
Genre Funk rock, blue-eyed soul
Length

5:10 (album version)

3:11 (single version)
Label RCA
2523
Producer(s) Tony Visconti
David Bowie singles chronology
"Rock 'n' Roll with Me"
(1974)
"Young Americans"
(1975)
"Fame"
(1975)

"Young Americans" is a single by English singer and songwriter David Bowie, released in 1975. It is included in the album of the same name.

History[edit]

The first studio result of Bowie’s mid-1970s obsession with soul music, "Young Americans" was a breakthrough hit for the artist in the United States (where the single was released in an edited 3:11 version). The sound, often later reflected on by Bowie as "plastic soul", was matched by a cynical lyric, making references to McCarthyism, black repression via Rosa Parks, Richard Nixon (who had resigned the U.S. Presidency two days before the recording session), as well as a near-direct lift from The Beatles’ "A Day in the Life" with the line "I heard the news today oh boy!" (John Lennon, who originally authored the line, appeared twice on the Young Americans album, providing background vocals and guitar on his own "Across The Universe" and "Fame", for which he also received a co-writing credit.) In falsetto, Bowie asks the question: "Ain't there one damn song that can make me... break down and cry?". The backing vocal arrangement came at the suggestion of Luther Vandross.

The song was a massive breakthrough in the United States, where glam rock had never really become very popular outside the major cities. The song reached No. 28 in the Billboard charts, making it his second biggest success there up until that point. The song is ranked at number 481 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by David Bowie except as noted.

UK release[edit]

  1. "Young Americans" – 5:10
  2. "Suffragette City" (Live) – 3:45

U.S. release[edit]

  1. "Young Americans" (single version) – 3:16
  2. "Knock on Wood" (Live) (Eddie Floyd, Steve Cropper) – 3:03

Charts[edit]

Chart (1975) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 28
Canadian Singles Chart 33
UK Singles Chart 18
Irish Singles Chart 13
Australian Singles Chart 27
New Zealand Singles Chart 1

Personnel[edit]

("Young Americans" only except Bowie)

Additional personnel[edit]

Live versions[edit]

Other releases[edit]

  • It appeared on several compilations:

20 Feet From Stardom (2013)

  • It was released as picture disc in the RCA Life Time picture disc set.

Cover versions[edit]

  • The Braids – Here We Come (1998)
  • The CureAn XFM Compilation Album (1992)
  • EverythingDrop Dead Gorgeous Soundtrack (1999)
  • Lily of the ValleyLive Recording: Webster Hall, NYC
  • Luther Vandross and Ava CherryLuther Vandross Live at Wembley, London
  • Danny MichelLoving the Alien: Danny Michel Sings the Songs of David Bowie
  • Replica Schmeplica – Hero: The Main Man Records Tribute to David Bowie (2007)

In other media[edit]

The song has accompanied the end credits of Dogville and Manderlay, the first two films of Lars Von Trier's trilogy USA - Land of Opportunities. "Young Americans" was also featured on the soundtrack of John Hughes' film Sixteen Candles.[1]

The song was used briefly in the Nicolas Cage film Lord of War. It was also played at the beginning of the film Down to You, starring Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Julia Stiles.

It was used in the trailer to the Ben Stiller-directed film Reality Bites to show how Generation X had been affected by earlier American history. It was used in the 2012 thriller Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise.

References[edit]

  • Pegg, Nicholas. The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-73-0

External links[edit]