Released: 5 April 1993
Black Tie White Noise
David Bowie: vocals
Wild T Springer: guitar
Richard Hilton/Philippe Saisse/Richard Tee: piano
Barry Campbell/John Regan: bass guitar
Poogie Bell/Sterling Campbell: drums
Fonzi Thornton, Tawatha Agee, Curtis King Jr, Dennis Collins, Brenda White-King, Maryl Epps, Frank Simms, George Simms, David Spinner, Lamya Al-Mughiery, Connie Petruk, Nile Rodgers: backing vocals
The penultimate track on David Bowie’s 18th studio album Black Tie White Noise is a cover version of Morrissey’s ‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday’.
I must say I found him charming the couple of times I met him. When he heard my version of ‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen’ it brought a tear to his eye and he said, ‘Oooh, it’s so-o-o grand!’
NME, 20 March 1993
Bowie and Morrissey first met on 7 August 1990, backstage at Bowie’s concert at Manchester’s Maine Road stadium. On 2 June the following year they duetted onstage a version of Marc Bolan’s ‘Cosmic Dancer’ – the recording was released as a single in 2021.
‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday’ first appeared Your Arsenal, Morrissey’s third solo album. Released in 1992 and produced by Mick Ronson, formerly of the Spiders From Mars, it harked back at various times to the glam rock era, most notably on the T.Rex-esque ‘Certain People I Know’.
‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday’ ended on a cycle of C/C#/D/E♭ chords, a clear echo of the B♭/B/C/D♭ vamp at the close of Bowie’s ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’. Upon hearing Morrissey’s song, Bowie decided to record his own version to reclaim a part of his history.
I always thought of the English singer-songwriter Morrissey as a sort of sexual Alan Bennett, British playwright, because of his attention to detail. He’ll take a small subject matter and make a very grandiose statement of it. Which is really a reverse of what most of us do, which is take a very big subject, grand subject, and reduce it down to something rather trivial. He is very singular, a very talented writer.
His last album, Your Arsenal, was produced, ironically, by Mick Ronson. Mick sent me a copy of the tape, and I couldn’t help notice that one of the songs on the album, ‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday’, was kind of a parody of one of my earlier songs, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’. And so I sort of thought it would be fun to take that song and do it the way I would have done it in 1974ish.
Black Tie White Noise film
Bowie’s grandiose version fades out before the ending, a decision made after Morrissey expressed reservations over its length. The fade meant that the ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’ section was excised altogether.
He came to the studio, Morrissey, and he heard the song, and he said, ‘It’s very grand. Was it really as long as that when I wrote it?’ So I knew that I’d over-recorded. It induced me to edit it down to a shorter version, because he was obviously getting quite bored with it by the end.
I think if I had to have an apartment redesigned I’d have Morrissey do it, because I know that he would pay special attention to things like skirting boards and the paintwork. Detail work. A detail man.
Black Tie White Noise film