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Wild Is the Wind (song)

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"Wild is the Wind"
Artwork for US 7-inch single
Single by Johnny Mathis
B-side"No Love (But Your Love)"
ReleasedNovember 11, 1957
StudioColumbia 30th Street Studio, New York City
Composer(s)Dimitri Tiomkin
Lyricist(s)Ned Washington
Johnny Mathis singles chronology
"Chances Are"
"Wild is the Wind"
"Come To Me"

"Wild Is the Wind" is a song written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington for the 1957 film Wild Is the Wind. Johnny Mathis recorded the song for the film and released it as a single in November 1957. Mathis' version reached No. 22 on the Billboard chart. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song in 1958, but lost to "All the Way" by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn from The Joker is Wild.[1]

The song has been recorded many times, by many performers. The best known versions are those recorded by Nina Simone (from her 1966 album of the same name) and by David Bowie (from his 1976 album Station to Station).[2]

In 1999, George Michael recorded a version for his album Songs From The Last Century.[citation needed]

Johnny Mathis version


Mathis recorded the song with a flexible sense of meter, rushing some words as if they were speech.[3] At the 30th Academy Awards in 1958 (where it was nominated for Best Song), Mathis performed the song live.

Nina Simone version


Nina Simone first recorded "Wild Is the Wind" live in 1959; this version appeared on the 1959 live album Nina Simone at Town Hall. Her most famous interpretation of the song was a studio recording released on the 1966 compilation album Wild Is the Wind. Simone extensively reworked the song, with slow, sparse instrumentation and her drawn-out vocal delivery expressing a sense of loss.[4][5]

Simone's 1966 version appeared in the trailer for the 2008 film Revolutionary Road. In November 2013, the song reached number 6 on Billboard's Digital Jazz chart.[6]

David Bowie version

"Wild Is the Wind"
Single by David Bowie
from the album Changestwobowie
B-side"Golden Years"
Released13 November 1981[7]
RecordedSeptember–November 1975
StudioCherokee, Los Angeles
Length3:34 (Music video)
5:58 (album version)
David Bowie singles chronology
"Under Pressure"
"Wild Is the Wind"
"'Baal (EP)'"

David Bowie recorded a version of "Wild Is the Wind" for his 1976 album Station to Station. Bowie was an admirer of Simone’s style, and he was inspired to record the song after meeting her in Los Angeles in 1975. He later recalled that Simone's version "really affected [him]...[he] recorded it as an hommage to Nina."[2]

Bowie took special care with the arrangement and production of "Wild Is the Wind", committing to an emotional and romantic vocal performance modeled after Simone's which has often been cited as one of his best.[3]

Single release and promotional video


To promote the 1981 compilation album Changestwobowie, an edit of Bowie's version of "Wild Is the Wind" was released as a single, and a black and white promotional video was made, directed by David Mallet. It featured Bowie and four musicians miming to the studio recording, including Tony Visconti (double bass), Coco Schwab (guitar), Mel Gaynor (drums), and Andy Hamilton (saxophone): none of the four musicians had played on the studio recording. The black backdrop and stark lighting reproduced the style of Bowie's Isolar – 1976 Tour in support of Station to Station. The single reached number 24 in the UK and #15 in Ireland.[9][10]



According to Chris O'Leary and Benoît Clerc:[11][7]


Live versions


Bowie performed the song during his June 2000 Mini Tour. A live recording from the BBC Radio Theatre in London on June 27, 2000, was released on a bonus disc accompanying the first release of Bowie at the Beeb in 2000. A performance on June 23, 2000, was recorded for Channel 4's TFI Friday. Bowie's performance of the song at the 2000 Glastonbury Festival was released in 2018 on Glastonbury 2000, a live album documenting his set.

Bowie also performed the song with Mike Garson on piano for the Black Ball charity concert in New York in November 2006; the concert was Bowie's final stage performance before his death in 2016.[12]


  1. ^ "The 30th Academy Awards | 1958". Oscars.org. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Pegg 2011, p. 278.
  3. ^ a b James E. Perone (2007). The Words and Music of David Bowie. Greenwood. pp. 54–55. ISBN 9780275992453.
  4. ^ Tillet, Salamishah (July 6, 2015). "Review: 'Nina Revisited... A Tribute To Nina Simone'". Npr.org. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  5. ^ "How Nina Simone transformed Wild is the Wind into an enduring ballad". Financial Times. March 5, 2017. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  6. ^ "Nina Simone". Billboard. Archived from the original on December 23, 2019. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Clerc 2021, p. 245.
  8. ^ Vaziri, Aldin (January 1, 1998). "David Bowie". In Graff, Gary; du Lac, Josh; McFarlin, Jim (eds.). MusicHound R&B: The Essential Album Guide. Detroit: Visible Ink Press. pp. 68–69.
  9. ^ "David Bowie". The Irish Charts. Retrieved October 8, 2023.
  10. ^ Pegg 2011, p. 734.
  11. ^ O'Leary 2015, chap. 10.
  12. ^ Pegg 2011, p. 279.