I'm Afraid of Americans

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"I'm Afraid of Americans"
Bowie I'mAfraidofAmericans.jpg
Single by David Bowie
from the album Earthling
A-sideVersions 1–4 (12")
B-sideVersions 5–6 (12")
Released14 October 1997
Format
RecordedAugust 1996
StudioLooking Glass, New York City
GenreIndustrial rock
Length
  • 5:00 (album version)
  • Various (single remixes)
LabelVirgin
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
David Bowie singles chronology
"Seven Years in Tibet"
(1997)
"I'm Afraid of Americans"
(1997)
"I Can't Read"
(1997)

"I'm Afraid of Americans" is a song by English singer-songwriter David Bowie, released as a single from his 1997 album Earthling. The song, co-written by Bowie and Brian Eno, was originally written during Bowie's studio sessions for the 1995 album Outside[1] but was not released until a rough mix appeared on the soundtrack to the film Showgirls, and was subsequently remade for Earthling. A top 20 hit in Canada, the rework also peaked at number 66 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 16 weeks on that chart. This was the final Bowie single which charted on the Hot 100 until "Blackstar" and "Lazarus" following his death.

Background[edit]

Bowie describes the feelings behind the song:

It's not as truly hostile about Americans as say "Born in the U.S.A.": it's merely sardonic. I was traveling in Java when [its] first McDonald's went up: it was like, "for fuck's sake." The invasion by any homogenized culture is so depressing, the erection of another Disney World in, say, Umbria, Italy, more so. It strangles the indigenous culture and narrows expression of life.[2]

Releases[edit]

"I'm Afraid of Americans" was originally engineered by David Richards and appeared as a rough mix on the soundtrack to the film Showgirls in 1995 (in which the chorus is "I'm afraid of the animals," instead of the later "I'm afraid of Americans"). It was subsequently remade for Earthling.

A CD single for "I'm Afraid of Americans" was released in the United States and Canada. The single did not include the album version of the song, but instead featured remixes of the track performed by Bowie's former tourmates, Nine Inch Nails, and drum and bass artist Photek. Nine Inch Nails' "V1" mix became more popular than the original version, in large part because of the accompanying video, leading to its appearance on some editions of the retrospectives Best of Bowie (2002), Nothing Has Changed (2014), and Bowie Legacy (2016).

The Showgirls version, as well as Nine Inch Nails' "V1" remix and Mark Plati's "Original Edit," were included on the bonus disc of the digibook expanded edition CD of Earthling in 2004.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1997–98) Peak
position
Lithuanian Singles Chart 5
Canadian Singles Chart 14[3]
US Billboard Hot 100 66
US Modern Rock Tracks (Billboard) 27

Versions and remixes[edit]

Title Mix and additional production Duration Additional credits
Showgirls Version Dave Richards 5:12 Produced by David Bowie and Brian Eno.
Album Version Mark Plati 4:59 Produced by David Bowie. Co-produced by Reeves Gabrels and Mark Plati.
Original Edit Mark Plati 4:14 Produced by David Bowie. Co-produced by Reeves Gabrels and Mark Plati.
V1 Nine Inch Nails 5:31 Production and additional performances by Nine Inch Nails. Mixed by Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. Engineered by Brian Pollack at Nothing Studios.
V1 Edit Nine Inch Nails 4:30 Production and additional performances by Nine Inch Nails. Mixed by Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. Engineered by Brian Pollack at Nothing Studios.
V1 Clean Edit Nine Inch Nails 4:30 Production and additional performances by Nine Inch Nails. Mixed by Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. Engineered by Brian Pollack at Nothing Studios.
V2 Nine Inch Nails 5:51 Production and additional performances by Nine Inch Nails. Mixed by Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. Engineered by Brian Pollack at Nothing Studios.
V3 Nine Inch Nails 6:06 Production and additional performances by Nine Inch Nails. Mixed by Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. Engineered by Brian Pollack at Nothing Studios. Special guest: Ice Cube.
V4 Nine Inch Nails 5:25 Production and additional performances by Nine Inch Nails. Mixed by Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. Engineered by Brian Pollack at Nothing Studios.
V5 Photek 5:38
V6 Nine Inch Nails 11:18 Production and additional performances by Nine Inch Nails. Mixed by Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. Engineered by Brian Pollack at Nothing Studios.

Nine Inch Nails: Trent Reznor, Charlie Clouser, Keith Hillebrandt, Dave "Rave" Ogilvie, Danny Lohner

Track listing[edit]

CD and 12"
Virgin / 8 38618 2 (US)

A-side:

  1. "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V1) – 5:31
  2. "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V2) – 5:51
  3. "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V3) (with Ice Cube)– 6:18
  4. "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V4) – 5:25

B-side:

  1. "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V5) – 5:38
  2. "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V6) – 11:18
CD promo
Virgin / DPRO-12749 (US)
  1. "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V1 Edit) – 4:30
  2. "I'm Afraid of Americans" (Original Edit) – 4:12
  3. "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V3) (with Ice Cube)– 6:06
  4. "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V1 Clean Edit) – 4:30

Personnel (single)[edit]

Live versions[edit]

Sonic Youth performed the song together with Bowie at his fiftieth birthday bash in New York City in January 1997.

David Bowie performed the song at the Howard Stern forty-fourth birthday bash in 1998.

A version recorded at GQ Awards, New York City on 15 October 1997, was released on LiveAndWell.com in 2000.

Bowie's 25 June 2000 performance of the song at the Glastonbury Festival was released in 2018 on Glastonbury 2000.[4]

Another live version by Bowie, recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre, London on 27 June 2000, was released on the bonus disc accompanying the first releases of Bowie at the Beeb in 2000.[5]

A live version by Bowie recorded in Dublin, Ireland in November 2003, was included on the DVD A Reality Tour, released in 2004, as well as the A Reality Tour album, released in 2010.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "David Bowie: The FI Interview" by J.D. Considine, Fi magazine, October 1997, pp 36-41
  2. ^ "''Earthling'' press release". Teenagewildlife.com. 25 June 1999. Archived from the original on 8 March 2009. Retrieved 10 May 2009.
  3. ^ https://www.billboard.com/music/David-Bowie/chart-history/CNS/song/553564
  4. ^ Collins, Sean T. (5 December 2018). "David Bowie: Glastonbury 2000 Album Review". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 11 July 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  5. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Bowie at the Beeb: The Best of the BBC Radio Sessions 68–72 – David Bowie". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2 July 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  6. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "A Reality Tour – Davis Bowie". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 18 August 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2017.

External links[edit]