Released: 10 June 2002
David Bowie: vocals, keyboards
Carlos Alomar, Gary Miller: guitar
John Read: bass guitar
Dave Clayton: keyboards
Philip Sheppard: electric cello
Tony Visconti: vocals
Solá Ákingbolá: percussion
The second single released from David Bowie’s Heathen album, ‘Everyone Says ‘Hi” was written for his late father, Haywood Stenton ‘John’ Jones.
When my father died in 1969, I couldn’t actually believe that he was not going to come back again. I kind of thought that he’d just put his raincoat and his cap on, and that he’d be back in a few weeks or something. And I felt like that for years. It really took a long time for me to be able to take in the fact that I wouldn’t see him again. So this one was just a little simplistic reference to that, about how it always feels like somebody has gone on a holiday of some kind. And there’s something sad about ships as well. That’s why this person in this song doesn’t go on a plane. A ship took them away – I guess that’s the boat that took people over the river Styx, isn’t it?
The Complete David Bowie, Nicholas Pegg
The song was widely misinterpreted upon its release, with many assuming it was about Bowie’s adult son Duncan. This incorrect assumption led to its reputation as a somewhat slight piece, belying its true nature as a treatise on bereavement.
Bowie’s former guitarist, Reeves Gabrels, was led to believe that the song was written about him.
I’ve got to say the only track I’ve listened to, other than ‘Blackstar’ is ‘Everyone Says ‘Hi” because someone told me that David wrote that for me. That made me cry.
Radio.com, February 2017
In the studio
‘Everyone Says ‘Hi” was co-produced by Brian Rawling and Gary Miller, with Bowie and Tony Visconti credited with vocal production.
The basis of the song was recorded by Bowie and Visconti at New York’s Looking Glass Studios in 2001. This included, in October, an overdub session in which Carlos Alomar – a key figure in work from Young Americans to Scary Monsters – reunited with Bowie to overdub a rhythm guitar part.
The recordings were then sent to Rawling and Miller at their Sub Urban Studios in London, where they constructed a new backing track with more guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, electric cello, and percussion.
I’ve just done what’s supposed to be the second single off David Bowie’s new album. Tony Visconti had done the vocals with him in America, so we got them over and recorded the track here. It was a song that Bowie had written himself, and I just worked from the vocals. It started off like a remix, but ended up as a fully-fledged production.
Sound On Sound, August 2002