Lust for Life (Iggy Pop song)

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"Lust for Life"
Cover of the 1977 Netherlands single
Single by Iggy Pop
from the album Lust for Life
ReleasedSeptember 9, 1977 (1977-09-09)
RecordedJune 1977[1]
StudioHansa (West Berlin)[2]
Producer(s)David Bowie
Music video
"Lust for Life" on YouTube

"Lust for Life" is a 1977 song performed by American singer Iggy Pop and co-written by David Bowie, featured on the album of the same name. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked it at No. 149 on their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time", re-ranking it at No. 325 in their 2021 updated list.[5]

Composition and performance[edit]

Co-written by Iggy Pop and David Bowie (written on a ukulele), the song is known for its opening drumbeat (played by Hunt Sales). The rhythm was based on the Armed Forces Network call signal,[6] which Pop and Bowie picked up on while waiting for a broadcast of Starsky & Hutch.[6] The drumbeat has since been imitated in numerous songs, including "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" by Jet and "Selfish Jean" by Travis; however, Sales's use of the rhythm was not original, as it was itself derived from "You Can't Hurry Love", released in July 1966 by The Supremes,[7] and "I'm Ready for Love", released in October 1966 by Martha and the Vandellas.[8]

In 1977, the song reached No. 3 on the Dutch Top 40. Its success was credited to a performance in the Dutch pop TV show TopPop, where Iggy Pop, shirtless, wrecked part of the stage set (which consisted of a couple of potted plants and some cardboard scenery). Although many viewers and newspapers complained about the apparent damage, the director of TopPop later admitted that they knew beforehand what Iggy was going to do and that the damage was minimal.[9][10]


The song's lyrics contain a number of references to William S. Burroughs' experimental novel The Ticket That Exploded, most notably mentions of "Johnny Yen" (described by Burroughs as "The Boy-Girl Other Half strip tease God of sexual frustration") and "hypnotizing chickens".

In a 1995 interview, Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and manager Danny Sugerman stated that the opening lyrics were about their deceased heroin dealer, nicknamed "Gypsy Johnny", arriving at Wonderland Avenue, with his heroin and his "motorized dildos".[8]

Track listing[edit]

1996 UK single

  1. "Lust for Life" – 5:11
  2. "(Get Up I Feel Like A) Sex Machine" – 4:05
  3. "Lust for Life (Live at the Feile Festival, 1993)" – 5:35
  4. "I Wanna Be Your Dog (Live at the Rock for Choice Benefit concert)" – 4:55


According to biographer Chris O'Leary:[1]


"Lust for Life" gained renewed popularity in the late 1990s after being featured in the 1996 British film Trainspotting. The song was heavily featured in the film's marketing campaign and subsequent soundtrack album, resulting in a new UK chart peak of No. 26 after being reissued as a single.[11] It also reached No. 39 on the US Radio & Records Alternative chart, No. 44 in Canada, and No. 2 in Iceland.[12][13][14] The single's success inspired Pop's then-label Virgin Records to issue a greatest hits compilation titled Nude & Rude.[15] Pop's biographer Joe Ambrose writes that the song gained the same level of resurgence as the Doors' "The End" after that song's inclusion in Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 film Apocalypse Now.[16] In 1999, Pop reflected on the song's renewed popularity:[17]

When I made Lust for Life, I really thought America was gonna rock to this motherfucker. And it took 20 fuckin' years which is a really long time to wait. I guess what happened is that there was this system that wasn't gonna fuckin' give me a break, and I outlived the system. The movies and advertisers have subverted the stranglehold of radio in America, and there are now other ways for people to hear music. All of a sudden, – a few years ago when Trainspotting came out – I was walkin' down the street and I'd heard Raw Power comin' out of the bars.

A remix by the Prodigy was included in Trainspotting's 2017 sequel, T2 Trainspotting.[18]



Certifications for "Lust for Life"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] Silver 200,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b O'Leary 2019, p. 74.
  2. ^ Seabrook 2008, pp. 146–147.
  3. ^ Smith, Murray (March 29, 2002). Trainspotting. British Film Institute. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-85170-870-6. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  4. ^ Schiller, Rebecca (June 4, 2018). "100 Best Songs of the 1970s". NME. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  5. ^ "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: Iggy Pop, 'Lust for Life'". Rolling Stone. September 15, 2021. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (January 13, 2016). "Iggy Pop on David Bowie:"He Resurrected Me"". The New York Times. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  7. ^ Boilen, Bob (January 15, 2008). "Old Music Tuesdays: The Lust for Life Beat". NPR. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Uitti, Jacob (November 14, 2022). "Behind the Spirit-Lifting History and Meaning of "Lust for Life" by Iggy Pop". American Songwriter. Retrieved December 29, 2022.
  9. ^ Bessemer, Ronald (August 4, 2009). "Rev. of Iggy Pop, Lust for Life". Platomania. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
  10. ^ "TopPop". School voor Journalistiek. April 22, 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
  11. ^ Pegg 2016, pp. 177–178.
  12. ^ "Alternative Top 50" (PDF). Radio & Records. November 1, 1996. p. 84. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  13. ^ a b "Top RPM Singles: Issue 9930." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  14. ^ a b "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (24.10. – 30.10. '96)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). October 25, 1996. p. 16. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  15. ^ Trynka 2007, p. 304.
  16. ^ Ambrose 2004, p. 256.
  17. ^ Ambrose 2004, p. 187.
  18. ^ "Various Artists: T2 Trainspotting: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Pitchfork.
  19. ^ "Iggy Pop – Lust for Life" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  20. ^ "Iggy Pop – Lust for Life" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  21. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Iggy Pop" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  22. ^ "Iggy Pop – Lust for Life" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  23. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles". Music & Media. Vol. 13, no. 49. December 7, 1996. p. 12.
  24. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  25. ^ "Iggy Pop: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  26. ^ "Top 100–Jaaroverzicht van 1977" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  27. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1977" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  28. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1978" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  29. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1978" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  30. ^ "Árslistinn 1996". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). January 2, 1997. p. 25. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  31. ^ "British single certifications – Iggy Pop – Lust for Life". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved March 5, 2023.