The Passenger (song)

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"The Passenger"
Song by Iggy Pop from the album Lust for Life
Recorded April – June 1977 at Hansa Studio by the Wall, Berlin
Length 4:44
Label RCA Records
Producer Bewlay Bros.
Lust for Life track listing
"Some Weird Sin"
"The Passenger"

"The Passenger" is a song by Iggy Pop and Ricky Gardiner, recorded and released by Iggy Pop on the Lust for Life album in 1977. It was also released as the B-side of the album's only single, "Success". It was released as a single in its own right in March 1998, reaching number 22 in the UK Charts.

The lyrics, written by Iggy Pop allegedly aboard Berlin's S-Bahn, have been interpreted as embodying the nomadic spirit of the punk outcast. Guitarist Ricky Gardiner composed the music. While it possesses a distinctive riff, "The Passenger" is perhaps most recognizable by its chorus, on which David Bowie sings back-up. The song is loosely based on a poem by Jim Morrison.[1][2]

In the media[edit]

The song has been featured in the movies This Must Be the Place, Radiofreccia, TV spots for the film Waking Life, the television show 30 Days, the film Jarhead and the 2002 video game Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2. More recently, the films Up in the Air and The Weather Man featured the song on its teaser trailer, and is played in a shop early in the film. It can also be heard in Kurt Cobain About a Son, the documentary exploration of the life and influences of the late musician. Scarface: The World Is Yours includes the song on its music selection menu. It was also used in a series of Kohl's commercials advertising the new "Simply Vera" line of clothing designed by Vera Wang. Guinness used the song for a television advertisement featuring an airplane flying through a pint-glass-shaped valley with clouds representing the beer's foamy head. The instrumental lead-in riff of this song is also the intro theme music for the CNN program Anderson Cooper 360. The song is also included in the music/rhythm game Lego Rock Band, complete with a Lego-style avatar of Iggy Pop at vocals. In 2012, the song was played in the Season 5 episode of Sons of Anarchy.

The song is also featured briefly in the opening montage of the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People directed by Michael Winterbottom.

In 2009, New Zealand broadband internet provider Orcon held a promotion where eight fans re-recorded the song via the internet. The recording featured instruments foreign to the original, such as a flute.[3]

The song has been used in various TV commercials around the world such as for the Avensis car in 1998 and Captain Morgan in 2011. It was re-released as a single in the UK in 1998 in the wake of the Toyota Avensis commercial, peaking at #22. It was used in a Dublin Bus commercial in Ireland.

It was also included in the book The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide to the Greatest Songs from Punk to the Present published in 2008.

In 2010 the German mobile phone provider T-Mobile launched their "Welcome Home" flash-mob advert on British television. Amongst the songs performed using only voices was "The Passenger", sung by local Brighton resident George Ikediashi.[4]

The song was used in promos for season 5 (2015) of the CNN series Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, and Iggy appeared in episode 2 of that season.


Region Certification
Italy (FIMI)[5] Gold

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone


Siouxsie and the Banshees version[edit]

"The Passenger"
Single by Siouxsie and the Banshees
from the album Through the Looking Glass
B-side "She's Cuckoo", "Something Blue"
Released March 16, 1987
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded 1986-1987
Genre Alternative rock, 2-Tone, New Wave
Label Polydor
Producer(s) Siouxsie and the Banshees
Mike Hedges
Siouxsie and the Banshees singles chronology
"This Wheel's on Fire"
"The Passenger"
"Song from the Edge of the World"

English rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees covered "The Passenger" in 1987 for their all-cover-versions album Through the Looking Glass. The group revamped the song by adding brass arrangements. Released as the second single from that album, it peaked at number 41 in the UK singles chart.[6]

Iggy Pop praised their version and stated : "That's good. She sings it well and she threw a little note in when she sings it, that I wish I had thought of, it's kind've improved it [...]. The horn thing is good."[7]

Other cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ PBS documentary Rock and Roll episode 7: The Wild Side, 1995
  2. ^ The Lords and the New Creatures Poems by Jim Morrison, Simon & Schuster, 1969, pg. 32
  3. ^ "Iggy re-records 'The Passenger' with a little help from NZ fans". 3 News. Retrieved November 17, 2009. 
  4. ^ "George Ikediashi from Brighton lands starring role in T-Mobile national TV ad". Brighton Retrieved October 12, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Italian single certifications – Iggy Pop – The Passenger" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved November 1, 2014.  Select Online in the field Sezione. Enter Iggy Pop in the field Filtra. The certification will load automatically
  6. ^ "Siouxsie & the Banshees [uk charts]". Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "120 Minutes" Iggy Pop interview. MTV. June 1990. Excerpt about Siouxsie and the Banshees' version of The Passenger from 08:38