Cover artwork used to commercialize 12" editions of the single.
|Single by David Bowie|
|from the album Never Let Me Down|
|Released||23 March 1987|
|Length||4:38 (Album version)|
4:14 (Single version)
|David Bowie singles chronology|
"Day-In Day-Out" is a song recorded by English singer David Bowie, serving as the opening track for his seventeenth studio album, Never Let Me Down (1987). It was issued as a single on 23 March 1987 ahead of the record's release. The recording was solely written by Bowie, while production was handled by him along with David Richards. An R&B track, "Day-In Day-Out" criticizes the treatment of the homeless in the United States at that time, and deals with the depths a young mother has to sink to feed her child.
An accompanying music video for the single was shot in 1987, being banned by some stations as a result of its content, although it was still nominated for a 1987 MTV Video Music award in the category of "Best Male Video". Commercially, "Day-In Day-Out" was the most successful single from Never Let Me Down, peaking at number 17 in the United Kingdom as well as charting within the top 40 in several other countries.
A re-engineered version of the song that includes Bowie's original vocals, some original and new instrumentation, and new mastering was released in 2018 as part of the album Never Let Me Down 2018, part of the Loving the Alien (1983-1988) box set.
Background and release
"Day-In Day-Out" was written by Bowie at his home in Montreux, Switzerland, along with most of the rest of Never Let Me Down in mid-1986. It was recorded in the autumn of 1986 at Mountain Studios in the same city. The singer penned the song out of concern for the treatment of the homeless in the United States, a foray into social commentary that he would further pursue with his grunge-precursor band Tin Machine two years later.
Musically, the recording is an R&B song, being reminiscent of some of the singer's R&B work in the 1970s. One author said that it is "an example of Bowie's strength in the R&B genre." The lyrics of the song were compared by one writer to those of Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" (1980), and deal with the depths a young mother has to sink to feed her child. Bowie claimed the song was selected as the lead-off single for Never Let Me Down "more as a statement of energy" about the album, as opposed to directly trying for a chart-topping single. It was released on 23 March 1987 by EMI on multiple 7" and 12" single formats, featuring B-side single "Julie". A video EP was also distributed that year. The single was further added to several compilations, including Bowie: The Singles 1969-1993 (1993), The Singles Collection (1993), Bowie – The Video Collection (1993), Best of Bowie (2002), The Platinum Collection (2005) and The Best of David Bowie 1980–1987 (2007).
A Spanish-language version of "Day-In-Day-Out", known as "Al Alba" or "Dia Tras Dia", was recorded in 1987 in order to boost interest in Bowie's first-ever concerts in Spain as part of his Glass Spider Tour (1987). It earned a single airing on Spanish radio prior to the concerts and was never released as a stand-alone single, although it was made available for digital download in 2007.
Re-recorded and re-mastered versions of "Day-In Day-Out" appears in the box set Loving the Alien (1983-1988) (2018). For the re-recorded version of the song, album engineer Mario J. McNulty discovered from the original master tapes that Bowie had recorded the Borneo Horns (Stanley Harrison, Lenny Pickett, Steve Elson and Arif Mardin) playing live for the song, but had elected to replace them with synthesized horns. McNulty restored the live horns in the new version, saying that the track now had "one foot in the past and another in the present".
Upon release, "Day-In Day-Out" received mixed reviews from music critics. Complaints about poor studio production were common, although publications did find the song to be "fun" and "danceable". Bowie biographer Nicholas Pegg called the track "frustrating", for on one hand being "a pretty fine song", but on the other, "[encapsulating] everything that's initially promising but ultimately infuriating" about the album. He concluded, "Somewhere in there is a concerted attempt to reclaim Bowie's former territory of guitar-based rock'n'roll, but 'Day-In Day-Out' suffers badly from over-elaboration: it's a slab of 1980s soft-rock which now [in 2016] sounds incredibly dated by comparison with much of Bowie's earlier work."
B-side single "Julie" was described by Bowie biographer David Buckley as the "catchiest" song of all the tracks from the Never Let Me Down sessions, and lamented that the recording was relegated to mere B-side status. Pegg agreed, calling it "arguably one of the best tracks from the whole [Never Let Me Down recording] session", and thought it might have been a hit if Bowie had released it as a single on its own.
Background and development
An accompanying music video for "Day-In Day-Out" was shot in Los Angeles in early 1987, with Bowie claiming it was "not going to sell the song at all", and was designed to explore the music video as a storytelling format over promoting the track itself. The singer also took a hand in designing and storyboarding the visual, saying, "I do the original drawings, the main shot for every situation, and then the storyboardist puts them into sequence, storyboarding backwards and forwards from that. Then I put in the major camera angles that I think would be interesting or different. And Julien [Temple] puts in his input. I started working this way on the 'Ashes to Ashes' video with David Mallet. It was my first real big attempt and it won awards at the time for being a new way of doing videos."
Julien Temple and Bowie co-directed the video, which made the song's message explicit, showing a young couple's struggle against an uncaring society. Tony Selznik taught Bowie to roller skate for the video, recalling in 2013, "David came across as very humble and in between careers, almost. He was disillusioned with the music industry. I taught him to skate in a parking lot. We shot the video on Hollywood Boulevard at night, with me in a wig and leather jacket as his double for some scenes. The only bad fall involved the instructor: my wheels came off, I was bleeding everywhere, and David helped me clean up. He was so nice, normal."
Controversy and recognition
The music video was banned by some TV stations, even after edits removed the female protagonist's heavily implied rape, swapped in an alternate version of a scene where the couple's child spells out "Mom", "Food" and "Fuck" in building blocks (words which represented the child's cycle of dependency; the alternate version had the child spell out the meaningless words "Mom", "Look" and "Luck"), and removed a closing scene of a young man urinating on Ronald Reagan's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Concerning the clip's ban, Bowie confessed, "I think it's ludicrous. [The censors] got caught up in the usual yellow press kind of excitement because of what it looked like instead of what it said." During the press tour for the Glass Spider Tour, he was asked about the controversy and responded, "We asked the [Los Angeles] police to work with us and they did very happily. We wanted to indicate how some of the houses for the homeless are removed, so we asked them to bring along the kind of contraption they use [...] it's kind of like a tank with a big battering ram on the end of it. And on the end of the battering ram they've made a little joke. As it goes through the windows it goes 'Have a nice day.' And I pointed out that it would be in the video and they said they were only too pleased to keep it on, so they kept it on. Is that controversial? I don't know." The video was nominated for a 1987 MTV Video Music award in the category "Best Male Video", but lost to Peter Gabriel's clip for "Sledgehammer" (1986).
All lyrics written by Bowie, while remixes produced by Shep Pettibone, except for the "Groucho" mix, which was remixed by Paul "Groucho" Smykle. A limited edition release (EAX 230) of the second 7" single issued in the United Kingdom contained a 7" red vinyl disc in a numbered box with a set of stickers and a photo booklet. The video EP is the sole source of the unedited version of the "Day-In Day-Out" and "Loving the Alien" videos. While the latter includes a shot of Bowie with a nosebleed, the edited versions of both visuals appear in later video releases.
Credits and personnel
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Never Let Me Down.
- David Bowie – vocals, composer, producer
- David Richards – producer
- Carlos Alomar – guitar
- Sid McGinnis – guitar
- Erdal Kizilcay – bass guitar, drums, keyboards
- Robin Clark – backing vocals
- Diva Gray – backing vocals
- Loni Groves – backing vocals
|Australia (Kent Music Report)||33|
|Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)||25|
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||10|
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||16|
|Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)||6|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||26|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||15|
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)||12|
|Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)||28|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||17|
|US Billboard Hot 100||21|
|US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)||10|
|US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)||3|
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