Velvet Goldmine (song)
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Cover to the 1975 maxi-single, with Velvet Goldmine as the second track on side B
|Song by David Bowie|
|Released||26 September 1975|
|Recorded||11 November 1971|
"Velvet Goldmine" is a song written by David Bowie and recorded during The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars sessions.
Recorded on 11 November 1971, the song did not make it onto the album despite being chalked up on the original master tapes running order. Its slot was effectively replaced by "Starman" after Bowie was told by RCA's A&R department that they needed a "hit single" for the album.
The song was originally titled and demoed as "He's a Goldmine". A mid-tempo rock song, it very much fitted in with the heavier cuts on Ziggy and contains the usual craftsmanship of Mick Ronson's Les Paul signature guitar licks. In a radio interview in 1972 (prior to it being dropped from the album) Bowie said he felt "Velvet Goldmine" was a "lovely thing" and "very David Bowie".
"Velvet Goldmine" was eventually released as the B-side (along with "Changes") of the UK re-release of "Space Oddity" in 1975 which went to Number 1 in the UK singles charts and gave Bowie his first UK chart topper. Bowie, who had moved to LA at the time of the release said later of the song's inclusion "The whole thing came out without my having a chance to listen to the mix. Somebody else had mixed it - an extraordinary move".
Although it was originally thought that Bowie wrote the song as a description of him making out with another man, it was claimed by Bowie in 1990 that he was writing in the third person and talking to/worshipping Ziggy Stardust through a groupie's eyes: "You got crazy legs, you got amazing head, You got rings on your fingers and your hair's hot red..."
Social pressures and RCA's managerial stance against suggestive or provocative lyrics at the time resulted in Bowie rewriting the song to be slightly more ambiguous compared to the demo, although it was still considered too risqué a song (even after watering down the lyrics) to be released in 1972. "You're my taste, my trip, I'll be your master zip, I'll suck your hair for kicks, you make me jump to my feet, So gimee your hand, gimee your sound, Let my seed wash your face, I'm falling up, I can't stand..." A similar fate befell "Sweet Head", another rocker with sexual lyrics that was dropped from Ziggy in favour of a cover of the MOR song "It Ain't Easy".
The song title inspired the name of the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine starring Jonathan Rhys-Myers but Bowie refused to license the song to the film makers after reading the script and realising it was a blatant parody of his Ziggy Stardust character.
Despite being originally only released as a B-side, this song has become very popular amongst fans and has subsequently appeared on several "best of" compilations. The structure and chords at the end of the song (the melodious humming through to fade out) were later borrowed for Bowie's 1978 "Revolutionary Song" which he wrote for the Just a Gigolo movie and soundtrack under the name "The Rebels".
- The song was included on the 1982 vinyl compilation Rare.
- In 1990, the song was released as a bonus track on the Rykodisc CD release of the Ziggy Stardust album. It subsequently appeared on the Best of 1969/1974 compilation in 1997, on the Ziggy Stardust 30th Anniversary Reissue bonus disc in 2002, and on Re:Call 1, part of the Five Years (1969–1973) boxed set, in 2015.
- It was released as picture discs in both the RCA Life Time picture disc set and the Fashion Picture Disc Set.
- David Bowie – lead and backing vocals, acoustic guitar
- Mick Ronson – electric guitar, piano, backing vocals
- Trevor Bolder – bass guitar
- Mick Woodmansey – drums