Young Americans (song)
|Single by David Bowie|
|from the album Young Americans|
|Released||21 February 1975|
|Recorded||Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia, August 1974|
|Length||5:10 (album version)|
3:11 (single version)
|David Bowie singles chronology|
"Young Americans" is a single by English singer and songwriter David Bowie, released in 1975. It is included in the album of the same name. The song was a breakthrough in the United States, where the glam rock of Bowie's earlier career had limited popularity outside the major cities. The song reached No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it his second biggest success on that chart until that point.
The first studio result of Bowie’s mid-1970s obsession with soul music, "Young Americans" was a breakthrough for the artist in the United States (where the single was released in an edited 3:11 version). The sound, later described by Bowie as "plastic soul", was matched by a cynical lyric, making references to McCarthyism, black repression via Rosa Parks, Richard Nixon (who resigned the U.S. Presidency two days before the recording session), and a near-direct lift from the Beatles’ "A Day in the Life" with the line "I heard the news today oh boy!" (John Lennon, who wrote that line, appeared twice on the Young Americans album, providing guitar and backing vocals on his own "Across the Universe" and "Fame", for which he also received a cowriting credit.) The backing vocal arrangement was suggested by Luther Vandross.
"America," noted production team The Matrix, "is a bit like a teenager: brimming with energy and imagination, occasionally overstepping the mark, but always with a great sense of possibility. Bowie captured a big piece of that in 'Young Americans'."
All songs written by David Bowie except as noted.
- "Young Americans" – 5:10
- "Suffragette City" (Live) – 3:45
- "Young Americans" (single version) – 3:16
- "Knock on Wood" (Live) (Eddie Floyd, Steve Cropper) – 3:03
|Australian Singles Chart||27|
|Canadian Singles Chart||33|
|New Zealand Singles Chart||7|
|UK Singles Chart||18|
|US Billboard Hot 100||28|
|US Cash Box||20|
|US Billboard Rock Songs||25|
("Young Americans" only except Bowie)
- David Bowie – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
- Carlos Alomar- lead guitar
- Willie Weeks – bass
- Mike Garson – piano
- Andy Newmark – drums
- David Sanborn- saxophone
- Larry Washington – congas
- Ava Cherry – backing vocals
- Robin Clark – backing vocals
- Luther Vandross – backing vocals
- Earl Slick – guitar on "Knock on Wood"
- Herbie Flowers – bass on "Knock on Wood"
- Tony Newman – drums on "Knock on Wood"
- Mike Garson – piano on "Knock on Wood"
- A live in-studio performance of "Young Americans", taped on 2 November 1974, is included on the DVD sets The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons and Best of Bowie.
- A live performance from the Serious Moonlight Tour, filmed on 12 September 1983, was included on the concert DVD Serious Moonlight (1984) and on the live album Serious Moonlight (Live '83), which was part of the 2018 box set Loving the Alien (1983-1988) and was released separately the following year.
- The song was performed during Bowie's 1987 Glass Spider Tour and was released on Glass Spider (1988/2007).
- "Young Americans" was retired from live performances during the Sound+Vision Tour (1990).
- The album version of the song has appeared on several compilations:
- The U.S. single version appears on Rare (1982), The Best of David Bowie 1974/1979 (1998), the American/Canadian edition of Best of Bowie (2002), Re:Call 2 (part of the Who Can I Be Now? (1974–1976) boxed set released in 2016), and the 2-CD and vinyl editions of Bowie Legacy (2016).
- An edit of the 2007 Tony Visconti mix appears on the 2014 Nothing Has Changed compilation.
- The song was released as a picture disc in the RCA Life Time picture disc set.
- It appears on the soundtrack of 20 Feet From Stardom.
- The Braids – Here We Come (1998)
- The Cure – An XFM Compilation Album (1992)
- Everything – Drop Dead Gorgeous Soundtrack (1999)
- Lily of the Valley – Live Recording: Webster Hall, NYC
- Luther Vandross and Ava Cherry – Luther Vandross Live at Wembley, London
- Danny Michel – Loving the Alien: Danny Michel Sings the Songs of David Bowie
- Replica Schmeplica – Hero: The Main Man Records Tribute to David Bowie (2007)
- Electric Six - You're Welcome! (2017)
In other media
The song has accompanied the end credits of Dogville and Manderlay, the first two films of Lars Von Trier's trilogy USA - Land of Opportunities. "Young Americans" was also featured on the soundtrack of John Hughes' film Sixteen Candles.
It was used in the trailer to the Ben Stiller-directed film Reality Bites to show how Generation X had been affected by earlier American history. It was used in the 2012 thriller Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise.
The 2015 British drama series The Enfield Haunting featured the song during the finale and end credits of the final episode.
- Edwards, Gavin (5 June 2014). "Flashback: David Bowie and Cher Duet on 'Young Americans'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
- Vogelman, Nee (18 January 2016). "The 20 Greatest David Bowie Singles". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- Pitchfork Staff (22 August 2016). "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s". Pitchfork.
- Collis, Clark; et al. (October 2003). "The 1001 greatest songs to download right now!". Blender #20. p. 98.
- "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Young Americans". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
- Heath, Chris (11 January 2015). "7 David Bowie Songs to Play Over and Over Today". GQ. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
- "Sixteen Candles (1984) : Soundtracks". IMDb.com. Retrieved 10 October 2016.