Friday, 29 April 2016

Y - Young Americans

Ain't there a child I can hold without judging?
Ain't there a pen that will write before they die?
Ain't you proud that you've still got faces?
Ain't there one damn song that can make me
break down and cry?

The title track of David Bowie's album Young Americans was the result of his "obsession" with soul music.  It was recorded at Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia in August of 1974, and released as a single in February 1975 with "Suffragette City" (UK) or "Knock on Wood" (US) as the B-side.

Bowie would later refer to the album's sound as "plastic soul... the squashed remains of ethnic music as it survives in the age of Muzak rock, written and sung by a white limey" (a derogatory term for people from England).  The song marks the first time that Bowie would work with guitarist Carlos Alomar and singer Luther Vandross.  Its lyrics jab at many issues of the time, from black repression to the Nixon scandal.  The line I heard the news today, oh boy! was lifted from the Beatles song "A Day in the Life".

"Young Americans" was a massive hit in North America, reaching position 28 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and position 33 on the Canadian Singles Chart.  Rolling Stone Magazine has this song ranked at number 481 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of all Time.

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