Wild Is the Wind (song)

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"Wild is the Wind"
Wild Is the Wind by Johnny Mathis US single.png
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 by Nina Simone in 1966, and by David Bowie released in 1976/1981 as a tribute to Simone.[2]

Johnny Mathis version[edit]

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[edit]

Nina Simone first recorded "Wild Is the Wind" live in 1959; this version appearing on the album Nina Simone at Town Hall. Her most famous interpretation of the song was a studio recording released on the compilation album Wild Is the Wind (1966), made of songs recorded for two earlier album projects. Simone reworked the song with slow, sparse instrumentation, stretching the vocal delivery to express soulful, hopeless loss.[4][5] Simone's 1966 version appeared on the trailer for the 2008 movie Revolutionary Road. In November 2013 (54 years later after the first release of Simone's version), the song reached number 6 on Billboard's Digital Jazz chart.[6]

David Bowie version[edit]

"Wild Is the Wind"
Bowie WildIsTheWind.jpg
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)
BOW 10
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 after meeting her in Los Angeles in 1975, he was inspired to record the song for his album. Bowie later said that Simone's version "really affected me... I recorded it as an hommage to Nina."[2]

Bowie took special care with the contemporary rock arrangement and production of "Wild Is the Wind", committing to an emotional and romantic vocal performance, the words drawn out more slowly and with a greater sense of loss, following the 1966 Simone version rather than the Mathis original.[3]

Single release and promotional video[edit]

To promote the 1981 compilation album Changestwobowie, 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). The black backdrop and stark lighting reproduced the style of Bowie's Isolar – 1976 Tour. The single reached no.24 in the UK.[8]




Bowie live[edit]

Bowie performed the song during his June 2000 Mini Tour. A live recording from the BBC Radio Theatre, 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, as his opening number, at the Glastonbury Festival on June 25, 2000, was released in 2018 on Glastonbury 2000.

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.[9]


  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. ^ "David Bowie - Wild is the Wind".
  8. ^ Pegg 2011, p. 734.
  9. ^ Pegg 2011, p. 279.