Released: 5 April 1993
Black Tie White Noise
David Bowie: vocals
Nile Rodgers: guitar
Barry Campbell/John Regan: bass guitar
Lester Bowie: trumpet
Richard Hilton, Dave Richards, Philippe Saisse, Richard Tee: keyboards
Poogie Bell/Sterling Campbell: drums
Gerardo Velez: percussion
Fonzi Thornton, Tawatha Agee, Curtis King Jr, Dennis Collins, Brenda White-King, Maryl Epps: backing vocals
‘Don’t Let Me Down & Down’ is the ninth song on David Bowie’s 18th studio album, 1993’s Black Tie White Noise.
Written by Tahra Mint Hembara, it appeared on her 1988 album Yamen Yamen, released in France by Pathé Marconi EMI, in two forms: ‘T Beyby’, with Arabic lyrics; and ‘Don’t Let Me Down And Down’, with lyrics translated into English by her producer Martine Valmont. Bowie became aware of the song through his wife Iman, who heard it in Paris in 1992.
I suppose one of the more agonising realities of life is the fact that all beauty decays in time, particularly when you reach my age and you realise that one actually does age.
When I first met Iman I would do what I always do when I’m in somebody else’s apartment: I go through their record collection. To see what they like, what kind of music they listen to. And she had some great Arabic things. Well I guess they weren’t Arabic, I guess they were probably Moroccan or Algerian but they were sung in Arabic anyway. And one of the pieces was so extraordinary, and just out of kilter with what should be western music. It was so strange, so odd.
It was in 3/4, and this extraordinarily plaintive little voice expressing this pidgin English lyric, called ‘Don’t Let Me Down And Down’. One of the lines that got me was “Jog, jog, jogging in my mind.” I wasn’t quite sure what it meant, but I knew what it meant.
Black Tie White Noise film
Bowie’s version was one of the slickest moments on Black Tie White Noise, a saccharine ballad which is saved by Bowie’s brilliantly emotive performance in the latter half.
I put it into 4/4. We tried it several ways, actually. We did it as a march, a waltz, tango. No, we did try it a couple of ways, anyway, and it came out to be a really quite delightful little love song. So it was just one of those tracks that sort of, in a diary-like way, records the beginnings of a relationship.
Black Tie White Noise film
‘Don’t Let Me Down & Down’ was considered as for release as a single in 1993, until Bowie’s label Savage Records filed for bankruptcy.
The Indonesian edition of Black Tie White Noise featured ‘Jangan Susahkan Hatiku’ – ‘Don’t Let Me Down & Down’ with the first half sung in Indonesian – in place of the original. ‘Don’t Let Me Down & Down (Indonesian Vocal Version) was also included on the bonus disc that came with the 2003 reissue of the album.