Cat People (Putting Out Fire)

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"Cat People (Putting Out Fire)"
Bowie CatPeople.jpg
Single by David Bowie
from the album Cat People: Original Soundtrack
B-side"Paul's Theme (Jogging Chase)"
ReleasedMarch 1982 (1982-03)
RecordedJuly 1981 (1981-07)
StudioMountain, Montreux
Length4:08 (edited version)
6:41 (full-length version)
5:09 (Let's Dance version)
9:21 (Australian 12" version)
Composer(s)Giorgio Moroder
Lyricist(s)David Bowie
Producer(s)Giorgio Moroder
David Bowie singles chronology
"Cat People (Putting Out Fire)"
"Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy"
Music video
"Cat People" (from Serious Moonlight Tour) on YouTube

"Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" is a song recorded by English singer-songwriter David Bowie, released as the title track of the 1982 erotic horror film Cat People. Recorded in July 1981, the song was written by Bowie with Italian producer Giorgio Moroder. The 1981 recording has been described as one of "the finest of Bowie's recordings of the 1980s".[1] A re-recorded version of the song, created a year and a half later, appears on the album Let's Dance (1983).


The director Paul Schrader engaged Bowie for a theme song in 1981, with Moroder having already recorded most of the music. Bowie was to put lyrics to the main theme. The B-side is a Moroder-only instrumental which featured no input from Bowie.

The song itself, in keeping with the dark tone of the film, has some goth rock influences, with Bowie singing in a deep baritone croon while being backed up by a female chorus. Bowie's octave leap on the word "gasoline" has been called "a magnificent moment"[2] and "among the most thrilling moments he ever committed to tape".[1]

Because of Moroder's contract, the single was issued by MCA. The full-length 6:45 version appeared on the soundtrack album, and the 12" single, while a 4:08 edited version was made for the 7" release. The single reached No. 26 in the UK, No. 13 in Canada[3] and No. 67 in the US - Bowie's biggest hit there since "Golden Years". It peaked at No. 1 in New Zealand, remaining there for three weeks, as well as in Sweden for four weeks. It was also No. 1 in Norway for seven consecutive weeks, and then returned to the top for a further week.

The single was released three separate times by MCA, first in March 1982 with "Cat People" as the A-side, then again two months later with "Paul's Theme" as the A-side, and finally in November 1982 with "Cat People" back on the A-side. Yugoslav-born Hungarian composer Sylvester Levay contributed to the orchestration.

In December 1982, Bowie re-recorded the song for his album Let's Dance, released the following year. This version was also released as the B-side to the title track's single release, and performed on Bowie's Serious Moonlight Tour. He had originally planned on using the original version of the song, but Moroder's label MCA Records refused to license it to EMI America. In the re-recorded version of the song, Stevie Ray Vaughan provided the guitar solos and riffs in the song.

The song was used in the 1998 film Firestorm. In 2009, the track was used in Quentin Tarantino's film Inglourious Basterds[4] and in 2017, the track was used in the film Atomic Blonde.[5]

In 2009, the song was used in a scene of The Office, episode Cafe Disco.

Sharleen Spiteri recorded a new version of the song in 2010 which was included on her album The Movie Songbook.

Track listing[edit]

7": MCA / MCA 770 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" (Bowie, Moroder) – 4:08
  2. "Paul's Theme (Jogging Chase)" (Moroder) – 3:51

12": MCA / MCAT 770 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" (Bowie, Moroder) – 6:41
  2. "Paul's Theme (Jogging Chase)" (Moroder) – 3:51

12": MCA / DS 12087 (Australia)[edit]

  1. "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" (Bowie, Moroder) – 4:08
  2. "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" (Bowie, Moroder) – 9:20
  • label states running time of 6:41, but is actually 9:20


Chart (1982) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[6] 15
Canadian Singles Chart 13
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[7] 1
Irish Singles Chart 17
New Zealand Singles Chart[8] 1
Norwegian Singles Chart[9] 1
Swedish Singles Chart[10] 1
Swiss Singles Chart[11] 8
UK Singles Chart[12] 26
US Billboard Pop Singles[13] 67
US Billboard Club Play Singles[13] 14
US Billboard Mainstream Rock[13] 9

Production credits[edit]

Other releases[edit]

  • The full-length version of the original 1981 recording appeared on the compilation Bowie: The Singles 1969-1993 in 1993, on the 2003 edition of Bowie's Sound + Vision collection, and on Re:Call 3, part of the A New Career in a New Town (1977–1982) boxed set, in 2017.[14]
  • The shorter version of the original 1981 recording appeared on the compilations Best of Bowie (US/Canada, Germany/Switzerland/Austria, Denmark 2002) and The Best of 1980/1987 (2007).
  • The Let's Dance version recorded in 1982 was released as the B-side of the single "Let's Dance" in March 1983.
  • Remasters of the Let's Dance version of the song have been included in reissues of that album, most recently in a 2018 remaster of the album included in the box set Loving the Alien (1983-1988) (2018) and released separately the following year.
  • A concert performance recorded on 12 September 1983 may be heard on the live album Serious Moonlight (Live '83), which was included in Loving the Alien (1983-1988) and released separately in 2019. The performance was filmed and appears on the concert video Serious Moonlight and the DVD version of Best of Bowie.


  1. ^ a b Nicholas Pegg (2016). The Complete David Bowie: p. 57
  2. ^ Chris O'Leary (2019). Ashes to Ashes: The Songs of David Bowie, 1976-2016: p. 165
  3. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly". Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  7. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava.
  8. ^ "David Bowie - Cat People (Putting Out Fire) (Song)". Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  9. ^ "". Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  10. ^ "". Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  11. ^ "". Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  12. ^ " search results". Archived from the original on 18 July 2007. Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  13. ^ a b c "Billboard charts at Allmusic". Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  14. ^ "A NEW CAREER IN A NEW TOWN (1977 – 1982) - David Bowie Latest News". 22 July 2016. Archived from the original on 30 May 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2017.


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

External links[edit]