I Can't Read

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"I Can't Read"
I Can't Read (David Bowie).jpg
Single by David Bowie
from the album The Ice Storm (soundtrack)
Released 1 December 1997
Format CD single
Recorded August 1996
Genre Rock
Length 4:40 (short version)
5:30 (long version)
Label Velvel Records/ZYX
ZYX 8757-8
Songwriter(s) David Bowie and Reeves Gabrels
Producer(s) David Bowie, Mark Plati and Reeves Gabrels
David Bowie singles chronology
"I'm Afraid of Americans"
"I Can't Read"
"Thursday's Child"
"I'm Afraid of Americans"
"I Can't Read"
"Thursday's Child"

"I Can't Read" is a song written by David Bowie and Reeves Gabrels for Tin Machine on their debut album in 1989.

Bowie recorded a new version of the song in 1997 for the film The Ice Storm.[1] This version was released as a single in Germany and Scandinavia by Velvel Records in December 1997. In January 1998 it was also released in Australia by Shock Records under exclusive license from Velvel Records. The single stayed in the UK Top 200 for 3 weeks, peaking at No. 73.

When Bowie performed the song in 1996 he described it as "full of remorse and agony, I expect, it's when jobs go wrong, and home doesn't really feel warm anymore, and you don't need anybody - you don't even pretend you do - and you end up in this kind of state."[2]

Track listing[edit]

CD: Velvel / ZYX 8757-8 (Germany)[edit]

  1. "I Can't Read" (Short Version) (Bowie, Gabrels) – 4:40
  2. "I Can't Read" (Long Version) (Bowie, Gabrels) – 5:30
  3. "This Is Not America" (Bowie, Metheny) – 3:48

Live versions[edit]

  • A live version recorded in 1989 was released on the 12" and CD version of the single "Tin Machine"
  • Another live version recorded during the Tin Machine Tour in 1991 was released on the live album Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby in 1992.

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ Sprague, David (February 1997), "After a decade of missteps, David Bowie reinvents himself again ... and this time he's on target", Pulse! magazine (156): 34–37, 72–73 
  2. ^ David Bowie, Bridge Concert Benefit X, 19 October 1996

External links[edit]