Day-In Day-Out singleWritten by: David Bowie
Recorded: September-December 1986
Producers: David Bowie, David Richards

Released: 23 March 1987

Available on:
Never Let Me Down
Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87)


David Bowie: vocals, keyboards
Carlos Alomar, Sid McGinnis: guitar
Erdal Kızılçay: keyboards, bass guitar, drums
Laurie Frink: trumpet
Stan Harrison: alto saxophone
Steve Elson: baritone saxophone
Lenny Pickett: tenor saxophone
Errol ‘Crusher’ Bennett: percussion
Robin Clark, Loni Groves, Diva Gray, Gordon Grodie: backing vocals

David Bowie: vocals
Reeves Gabrels: lead guitar, rhythm guitar
Tim Lefebvre: bass guitar
Sterling Campbell: drums
Mario J McNulty: percussion
Laurie Frink: trumpet
Stan Harrison: alto saxophone
Steve Elson: baritone saxophone
Lenny Pickett: tenor saxophone

‘Day-In Day-Out’ is the opening song on Never Let Me Down, David Bowie’s seventeenth studio album, and its lead single.

Bowie was increasingly inserting social commentary in his mid-Eighties works, a theme which would increase further with Tin Machine and on Black Tie White Noise. His tendency to explore themes of homelessness, drug abuse, and urban deprivation may have been kickstarted after having recorded Iggy Pop’s ‘Tonight’ and ‘Neighborhood Threat’ on Tonight, and his involvement in the Live Aid charity campaigns.

I know, I’m rich and famous and out of touch. I supposed the majority of what I was writing about initially came from news coverage and media events. I’m like everyone else, I know what’s going on in the world basically through television and the newspaper – one for the pictures, the other for the truth.
David Bowie
New York Times, 26 April 1987

‘Day-In Day-Out’ is a tale of a woman trapped in drug addiction and poverty, controlled by her pimp, and teetering on the brink of homelessness. Her plight is dealt with compassion and sympathy by Bowie, who dropped in references to Oscar Wilde (“She was born in a handbag”) and the Beatles (“She’s got a ticket to nowhere/She’s gonna take a train ride”).

I guess it’s a reflection or indictment of the uncaring society. In the video it uses America as a focus, but you can take most affairs that happen in America as being of an international flavor anyway. I knew I was going to do something around that topic, but I had no idea it would focus itself around one particular area of Los Angeles, but quite obviously it is the situation there.
David Bowie
Music & Sound Output, June 1987

In 1987 Bowie also recorded a Spanish-language version of the song, known as ‘Al Alba’ or ‘Dia Tras Dia’. It was made to promote the Spanish leg of the Glass Spider tour, but received just one radio play.

‘Al Alba’ remained unreleased until 2007, when it was issued as a digital download.

The release

‘Day-In Day-Out’ was the first single released from Never Let Me Down. It was issued on 23 March 1987 on 7″ and 12″ vinyl.

It was the most successful single from Never Let Me Down, and went top 10 in Belgium, Finland, and Sweden.

In the UK it peaked at 17, and on the US Billboard Hot 100 it reached number 21. It was Bowie’s last chart hit in America until ‘I’m Afraid Of Americans’ in 1997.

‘Day-In Day-Out’ came in a range of formats. In the UK it was issued as a 7″, with ‘Day-In Day-Out’ edited from the album’s 5:35 to 4:14. The non-album song ‘Julie’ was on the b-side. A second 7″ single variant on red vinyl came in a numbered box with stickers and a photo booklet.

There were two 12″ singles released in the UK and worldwide. The first had the 7:15 ‘Day-In Day-Out’ (Extended Dance Mix); a 7:17 Extended Dub Mix; and ‘Julie’. The remixes were by Shep Pettibone.

The second 12″ single led with ‘Day-In Day-Out’ (Remix) lasting 6:30. This version, sometimes known as the Groucho Mix, was made by Paul ‘Groucho’ Smykle. The single also had the Extended Dub Mix, and ‘Julie’.

In the USA a 12″ single was issued with the Groucho Mix, Extended Dance Mix, single edit, and ‘Julie’.

A promo 12″ of ‘Day-In Day-Out’ was also made available, containing a 3:35 7″ Dance Edit; the Extended Dance Mix; and a 4:30 Edited Dance Mix.

Never Let Me Down followed the single on 20 April 1987.

On the original vinyl edition of the album, seven songs were edited for length, including ‘Day-In Day-Out’, which was reduced from 5:35 to 4:38.

The Groucho Mix of ‘Day-In Day-Out’ was included on Dance, a compilation of remixes included in the 2018 box set Loving The Alien (1983–1988).

The box set also included Never Let Me Down 2018, on which Bowie’s original vocals were given a new backing by guitarist Reeves Gabrels, bassist Tim Lefebvre, and drummer Sterling Campbell, with additional percussion by producer Mario J McNulty, who also retained the original horn section.

We didn’t really keep any of the original synth stuff from the album. A lot of those textures are guitar-played or stuff that Mario did after the fact. The part you’re talking about — it sounds like a baritone sax or a synth — that’s actually an Alexander Syntax Error pedal. That just came to me, and it sounded right.

You see, I didn’t listen to the original album before I went in the studio; I wanted to treat the whole thing like a demo. I didn’t want to be too married to what had been done before, because then I’d just try to re-create new versions of what had been done.

Reeves Gabrels
Guitar Player, 2 November 2018
Published: |