Bowie referencing / re-using his own work

Bowie referencing / re-using his own work

Joined: July 11th, 2004, 4:56 pm

April 30th, 2017, 5:00 pm #1

I'm not sure whether we've had a thread on this, but I expect it has been discussed here.

Bowie admitted re-using his own work - there are countless examples of him using outtakes to what he considered better effect (and to be fair he was usually right).

I found the final chords of Sweet Thing going through my head just now after I'd been listening to Jump They Say. While it is just two chords in the verse, I think he probably did get the idea from his own song there. NB I've probably mentioned this before but I've felt for quite a while that the beautiful 'Strange Little Girl' by The Stranglers was inspired partly by the opening chords of 'Candidate' - check the chords of the verse of the former song, first demo'ed by The Stranglers in 1974.

Back to Bowie, other widely known examples of him referencing his own work include Stay (John I'm only Dancing again), The Saviour Machine (Ching a Ling), Scream like a Baby(I am a Laser), It's no Game (Tired of My Life), the 'beep beep' in Fashion (Rupert the Riley), etc etc.

I'd be interested in any more obscure examples anyone can think of though.
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Joined: April 8th, 2005, 1:53 pm

April 30th, 2017, 6:08 pm #2

C'est La Vie , has similarities to Shadow man and conversation piece .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyoYstj7Jgc
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Joined: October 15th, 2003, 8:16 am

April 30th, 2017, 10:39 pm #3

"Zane, Zane, Zane
Ouvre le chien"

originally All the Madmen, later used in Buddha of Suburbia
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"Suspected of being a shoulder surfer
But he didn't know from shit
About challenge response systems"

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Joined: March 4th, 2009, 1:08 am

April 30th, 2017, 11:34 pm #4

I'm not sure whether we've had a thread on this, but I expect it has been discussed here.

Bowie admitted re-using his own work - there are countless examples of him using outtakes to what he considered better effect (and to be fair he was usually right).

I found the final chords of Sweet Thing going through my head just now after I'd been listening to Jump They Say. While it is just two chords in the verse, I think he probably did get the idea from his own song there. NB I've probably mentioned this before but I've felt for quite a while that the beautiful 'Strange Little Girl' by The Stranglers was inspired partly by the opening chords of 'Candidate' - check the chords of the verse of the former song, first demo'ed by The Stranglers in 1974.

Back to Bowie, other widely known examples of him referencing his own work include Stay (John I'm only Dancing again), The Saviour Machine (Ching a Ling), Scream like a Baby(I am a Laser), It's no Game (Tired of My Life), the 'beep beep' in Fashion (Rupert the Riley), etc etc.

I'd be interested in any more obscure examples anyone can think of though.
"At the center of it all."

Slow Burn and Blackstar.
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Joined: September 14th, 2007, 8:06 pm

May 1st, 2017, 6:53 am #5

87 & Cry / The Next Day

I do like these threads.
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Joined: October 15th, 2003, 8:16 am

May 1st, 2017, 7:31 am #6

Not really lyrics but the use of the Synth from Ashes to Ashes on Love is Lost remix. and the effigies.
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"Suspected of being a shoulder surfer
But he didn't know from shit
About challenge response systems"

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Joined: December 23rd, 2013, 4:58 pm

May 1st, 2017, 8:01 am #7

Tired of my life, it's no game.

Ching a ling song / Supermen
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Joined: September 14th, 2007, 8:06 pm

May 1st, 2017, 8:51 am #8

Was it Dead Man Walking that reused the Jimmy Page riff used in The Supermen?

Also, I think there's a difference in reusing ideas from earlier work - IE ATYD = Move On and repurposing ideas from unreleased / discarded stuff. For example, I Am A Laser being rewritten as Scream Like A Baby should be in the bracket of working version-becomes-finished-idea. Like an acoustic sketch becoming a full band version.

We once discussed the amount of reworkings on albums from earlier versions. I think generally, Bowie usually only wrote about 5 new songs per year in the 70s if you take these and covers away.
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Joined: December 23rd, 2013, 4:58 pm

May 1st, 2017, 8:55 am #9

Yeah Dead Man Walking

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Joined: October 15th, 2003, 8:16 am

May 1st, 2017, 10:30 am #10

right up to the end. New Career in a new Town/ I can't Give Everything Away
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Suspected of being a shoulder surfer
But he didn't know from shit
About challenge response systems"

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Joined: May 29th, 2009, 12:53 pm

May 1st, 2017, 11:07 am #11

the fin de siècle of major tom to ashes to ashes (ok it was barely over a decade) but surely the most self-referencing...
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Joined: October 3rd, 2010, 7:30 pm

May 1st, 2017, 5:18 pm #12

I'm not sure whether we've had a thread on this, but I expect it has been discussed here.

Bowie admitted re-using his own work - there are countless examples of him using outtakes to what he considered better effect (and to be fair he was usually right).

I found the final chords of Sweet Thing going through my head just now after I'd been listening to Jump They Say. While it is just two chords in the verse, I think he probably did get the idea from his own song there. NB I've probably mentioned this before but I've felt for quite a while that the beautiful 'Strange Little Girl' by The Stranglers was inspired partly by the opening chords of 'Candidate' - check the chords of the verse of the former song, first demo'ed by The Stranglers in 1974.

Back to Bowie, other widely known examples of him referencing his own work include Stay (John I'm only Dancing again), The Saviour Machine (Ching a Ling), Scream like a Baby(I am a Laser), It's no Game (Tired of My Life), the 'beep beep' in Fashion (Rupert the Riley), etc etc.

I'd be interested in any more obscure examples anyone can think of though.
Move on = All the Young Dudes played backwards - mentioned in Lodger era interviews

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Joined: February 7th, 2012, 3:52 pm

May 1st, 2017, 5:19 pm #13

the fin de siècle of major tom to ashes to ashes (ok it was barely over a decade) but surely the most self-referencing...
"You Feel So Lonely You Can Die" - Has the same beat pattern as "Five Years" at the end.

"Heat" makes some references to "I Can't Read" at the end.

"Thursday's Child" and "Where Are We Now?" also seem to share some the same DNA.

"Hallo Spaceboy" - The Pet Shop Boys remix makes reference to Major Tom.
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Joined: January 8th, 2013, 8:03 pm

May 1st, 2017, 6:27 pm #14

I'm not sure whether we've had a thread on this, but I expect it has been discussed here.

Bowie admitted re-using his own work - there are countless examples of him using outtakes to what he considered better effect (and to be fair he was usually right).

I found the final chords of Sweet Thing going through my head just now after I'd been listening to Jump They Say. While it is just two chords in the verse, I think he probably did get the idea from his own song there. NB I've probably mentioned this before but I've felt for quite a while that the beautiful 'Strange Little Girl' by The Stranglers was inspired partly by the opening chords of 'Candidate' - check the chords of the verse of the former song, first demo'ed by The Stranglers in 1974.

Back to Bowie, other widely known examples of him referencing his own work include Stay (John I'm only Dancing again), The Saviour Machine (Ching a Ling), Scream like a Baby(I am a Laser), It's no Game (Tired of My Life), the 'beep beep' in Fashion (Rupert the Riley), etc etc.

I'd be interested in any more obscure examples anyone can think of though.
Reality -"My Death is more than just a sad song"

It half counts.
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Joined: December 12th, 2016, 1:31 am

May 2nd, 2017, 2:41 am #15

I'm not sure whether we've had a thread on this, but I expect it has been discussed here.

Bowie admitted re-using his own work - there are countless examples of him using outtakes to what he considered better effect (and to be fair he was usually right).

I found the final chords of Sweet Thing going through my head just now after I'd been listening to Jump They Say. While it is just two chords in the verse, I think he probably did get the idea from his own song there. NB I've probably mentioned this before but I've felt for quite a while that the beautiful 'Strange Little Girl' by The Stranglers was inspired partly by the opening chords of 'Candidate' - check the chords of the verse of the former song, first demo'ed by The Stranglers in 1974.

Back to Bowie, other widely known examples of him referencing his own work include Stay (John I'm only Dancing again), The Saviour Machine (Ching a Ling), Scream like a Baby(I am a Laser), It's no Game (Tired of My Life), the 'beep beep' in Fashion (Rupert the Riley), etc etc.

I'd be interested in any more obscure examples anyone can think of though.
Sweet thing reprise - New Killer Star

The claps at the end of Andy Warhol- the claps at the beginning of love is lost, steve Reich/ james murphy mix

The beginning of its no game= the beginning of poker dice by stomu yamashta (aka the intro song to the man who fell to earth)
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Joined: January 31st, 2013, 5:28 am

May 2nd, 2017, 3:56 am #16

I was running at the speed of life - The Secret Life of Arabia

And I'm running down the street of life - Never Get Old
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Joined: December 12th, 2016, 1:31 am

May 2nd, 2017, 7:10 am #17

Can you hear me, Major Tom

Can you hear me? Is a song off Young Americans
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Joined: September 14th, 2007, 8:06 pm

May 2nd, 2017, 4:43 pm #18

This went downhill quick.
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Joined: January 17th, 2009, 6:29 pm

May 6th, 2017, 4:01 pm #19

I was listening to Neuköln, and heard the sax riff from Lazarus.
"Schtum!"
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Joined: March 6th, 2013, 2:36 pm

May 6th, 2017, 4:58 pm #20

Not exactly Bowie referencing the past but more likely Maria Schneider but there's a bit in the original Sue that seems to reference Warszawa off Low
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Joined: April 8th, 2005, 1:53 pm

May 6th, 2017, 6:11 pm #21

Three penny pierot - London bye ta ta
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Joined: April 8th, 2005, 1:53 pm

May 6th, 2017, 6:15 pm #22

Columbine reminds me of something,possibly wild eyed boy from free cloud. But there are several riffs in it similar to various tracks on space oddity.
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Joined: November 10th, 2016, 2:56 pm

May 7th, 2017, 10:56 pm #23

Ok I am going for gold on the earliest reference.

Chord progression on ching a ling was reused almost identically on Saviour Machine.
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Joined: September 14th, 2007, 8:06 pm

May 8th, 2017, 6:12 am #24

Read the thread dude

Yes it's difficult to think of something earlier than that. Although I'd stick that in the re-working unreleased material bracket rather than referencing. So in that case, Silly Boy Blue's total re-write could be considered earlier?

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Joined: October 25th, 2016, 7:09 am

May 8th, 2017, 7:04 am #25

I'm not sure whether we've had a thread on this, but I expect it has been discussed here.

Bowie admitted re-using his own work - there are countless examples of him using outtakes to what he considered better effect (and to be fair he was usually right).

I found the final chords of Sweet Thing going through my head just now after I'd been listening to Jump They Say. While it is just two chords in the verse, I think he probably did get the idea from his own song there. NB I've probably mentioned this before but I've felt for quite a while that the beautiful 'Strange Little Girl' by The Stranglers was inspired partly by the opening chords of 'Candidate' - check the chords of the verse of the former song, first demo'ed by The Stranglers in 1974.

Back to Bowie, other widely known examples of him referencing his own work include Stay (John I'm only Dancing again), The Saviour Machine (Ching a Ling), Scream like a Baby(I am a Laser), It's no Game (Tired of My Life), the 'beep beep' in Fashion (Rupert the Riley), etc etc.

I'd be interested in any more obscure examples anyone can think of though.
Little Wonder Grumpy Gnomes And The Laughing Gnome
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Joined: April 8th, 2005, 1:53 pm

May 8th, 2017, 6:05 pm #26

The Astronettes I am divine - Somebody up there likes me.
The Astronettes People from bad homes - Fashion
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Joined: January 13th, 2009, 1:41 pm

May 11th, 2017, 5:08 pm #27

Exact same chord progression for 'Fantastic Voyage' and 'Boys Keep Swinging.'
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Joined: January 17th, 2009, 6:29 pm

May 13th, 2017, 4:55 pm #28

Not exactly Bowie referencing the past but more likely Maria Schneider but there's a bit in the original Sue that seems to reference Warszawa off Low
Well, he was a Time Lord.
"Schtum!"
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Joined: April 9th, 2005, 12:53 am

May 14th, 2017, 6:54 pm #29

Exact same chord progression for 'Fantastic Voyage' and 'Boys Keep Swinging.'
John I'm Only Dancing > John I'm Only Dancing (Again) > Stay

Sister Midnight > Red Money > Bleed Like A Craze.

Mist.
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Joined: March 6th, 2010, 9:13 pm

May 14th, 2017, 11:26 pm #30

Look Back In Anger --> Look Back In Anger 88 --> Now --> Outside

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_x6JzOIRCA
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Joined: October 15th, 2003, 8:16 am

May 14th, 2017, 11:46 pm #31

It's No Game / Tired of My Life.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Suspected of being a shoulder surfer
But he didn't know from shit
About challenge response systems"

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Joined: September 14th, 2007, 8:06 pm

May 15th, 2017, 6:26 am #32

I take it people are mentioning ones said in the OP just to wind me up

Good post Bender, although I would also argue not strictly true? Rerecording - working version - different song?
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Joined: January 31st, 2013, 5:28 am

May 22nd, 2017, 4:01 am #33

"Self-kleptomania is the normal human condition: that's Dada."
Tristan Tzara
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Joined: March 6th, 2010, 9:13 pm

May 22nd, 2017, 8:18 am #34

Hangman, you're right. Look Back In Anger to Outside mutates along the way so that Outside has no similarities to Look Back in Anger, but each stage is connected. Look Back in Anger is reworked with Gabrels for the 1988 version, then that reworked version becomes the lengthy intro to Now, then that lengthy intro is chopped of to just leave the track Outside.


The "something happened on the day he died" section of Blackstar has a transposed descending 4 chord progression from the choruses of Ashes to Ashes ("I've never done good things...") that was also used quite differently in Oxford Town. Took me a while to figure out where I heard it before. Sounded familiar but couldn't place where.

Pug Nosed Face (co-write with Merchant and Gervais) is A --> Fmaj7 --> G --> G#dim
Similarly, the "do you like girls or boys?" section of Spaceboy is A--> Fmaj7 --> G --> Gb

FYI: Fmaj7 is A minor, but with F on the bass. It's quite distinctive sounding on the songs above cos it's preceded by a regular A. So it's like a major to minor. Fmaj7 is also the opening chord on both Space Oddity and Where Are We Now? I reckon that was intentional self referencing.
Last edited by BenderRodriguez on May 22nd, 2017, 1:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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