Tin Machine II album coverWritten by: David Bowie, Hunt Sales, Tony Sales
Recorded: September – November 1989; April, September – October 1990; March 1991
Producers: Tin Machine, Tim Palmer

Released: 2 September 1991

Available on:
Tin Machine II
Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby



David Bowie: vocals, guitar
Reeves Gabrels: guitar
Tony Sales: bass guitar
Hunt Sales: drums

One of the rare highlights on Tin Machine II, ‘Goodbye Mr Ed’ contains some of David Bowie’s most arresting and effective lyrics.

The song contrasts the fate of the Weckquaesgeek, the pre-colonial Native American occupants of southernmost Manhattan, with New York’s modern-day shopping malls and skyscrapers. “The ghost of Manhattoe” cry as they fall from AT&T, victims of rampant commercialism and modern day ‘progress’.

The effect is a slideshow of victims and unfortunates, from Andy Warhol’s skull “in a shopping mall near Queens” to the washed up punks who “laid the Golem eggs”, Icarus to Breughel. Gone is the triumphalism of Halloween Jack surveying Hunger City from atop Manhattan Chase in 1974, and in its place is empathy and regret.

It is very much juxtaposing lines which really shouldn’t fit, free-association around the idea of ‘bye-bye, ’50s America.’ New York once belonged to the Manahattos – a tribe that used to have that bit of land before it became Manhattan. That was the first real, solid image I had… I thought, ‘That’s what this song’s about.’
David Bowie
Musician, September 1991

‘Goodbye Mr Ed’ originated as a jam from Tin Machine’s Sydney recording sessions at the end of 1989.

We all came back from lunch and David had written a whole sheet of lyrics for it, and then he put the vocal on later with the melody.
Tony Sales
Musician, September 1991

Parts of the recording of Tin Machine II took place in breaks in Bowie’s Sound + Vision Tour in 1990. ‘Goodbye Mr Ed’ was worked on during a few days’ break ahead of his show in Miami on 27 April 1990.

David would call up and say, ‘I’m going to have a week off in Miami in a month, if you want to meet me there, we can do more stuff.’ For example, ‘Goodbye Mr Ed’ was just a rhythm track until we got to Miami.
Reeves Gabrels, 1991
Typhe magazine

Tin Machine performed ‘Goodbye Mr Ed’ throughout the It’s My Life Tour in 1991-2. A recording from Tokyo on 17 February 1992 was released on the album Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby.

Previous song: ‘Sorry’
Next song: ‘Hammerhead’
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