The Supermen

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"The Supermen"
Song by David Bowie from the album The Man Who Sold the World
Released November 4, 1970 (U.S.)
April 1971 (UK)
Recorded Trident and Advision Studios, London
18 April - 22 May 1970
Genre Hard rock, psychedelic rock, glam rock, heavy metal
Length 3:38
Label Mercury Records
Writer David Bowie
Producer Tony Visconti
The Man Who Sold the World track listing
"The Man Who Sold the World"
"The Supermen"

"The Supermen" is a song written by David Bowie in 1970 and released as the closing track on the album The Man Who Sold the World. It was one of a number of pieces on the album inspired by the works of literary figures such as Friedrich Nietzsche and H. P. Lovecraft.

Music and lyrics[edit]

The song has been cited as reflecting the influence of German Romanticism, its theme and lyrics referencing the apocalyptic visions of Friedrich Nietzsche and its prominent timpani part being likened to Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra.[1] Bowie later said "I was still going through the thing when I was pretending that I understood Nietzsche... And I had tried to translate it into my own terms to understand it so 'Supermen' came out of that."[2] Critics have also seen the influence of H. P. Lovecraft's stories of "dormant elder gods".[3]

According to Bowie himself the guitar riff was given to him by Jimmy Page when the latter, who was Shel Talmy's session guitarist in the mid-1960s, played on one of Bowie's early releases, "I Pity the Fool".[1] The riff was later used on another Bowie song, "Dead Man Walking", from the Earthling album in 1997.

Live versions[edit]

Other releases[edit]

An alternate version of the song was recorded on 12 November 1971 during sessions for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. It first appeared on the album Revelations - A Musical Anthology for Glastonbury Fayre in July 1972, compiled by the organisers of Glastonbury Festival at which Bowie had played in 1971.[4] It was later released as a bonus track on the Rykodisc CD and cassette reissue of Hunky Dory in 1990, and again on the Ziggy Stardust - 30th Anniversary Reissue bonus disc in 2002.

Cover versions[edit]

  • Doctor Mix and the Remix (aka Metal Urbain) - Wall of Noise (1979)
  • Aquaserge - Repetition - A Tribute to David Bowie (2010)
  • Sampled on "Culture Shock" by Death Grips (2011)



  1. ^ a b Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: pp.209-210
  2. ^ David Buckley (1999). Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story: p.267
  3. ^ Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.38
  4. ^ Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Ibid: p.49

External links[edit]