Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy for the DFA) singleWritten by: David Bowie
Recorded: September-November 2011; 2013
Producers: David Bowie, Tony Visconti
Engineers: Mario McNulty, Tony Visconti

Released: 8 March 2013

Available on:
The Next Day
Nothing Has Changed

Personnel

David Bowie: vocals, keyboards
Gerry Leonard: guitar
Gail Ann Dorsey: bass guitar
Zachary Alford: drums
James Murphy, Matthew Thornley, Hisham Bharoocha, Jordan Hebert: handclaps (remix)

‘Love Is Lost’ was the fifth and final single released from David Bowie’s 24th studio album The Next Day.

Bowie gave no interviews to coincide with the album’s release, but did send novelist Rick Moody a list of 42 words to help elucidate its themes. Each song was given a corresponding three words – those for ‘Love Is Lost’ were: Hostage, Transference, Identity.

Clearly I thought of Dennis Davis and the Lodger sessions. On the demo it was the beat from ‘Ashes To Ashes’, and here I am trying to fill Dennis’s shoes. We didn’t know what that was gonna be about, but it was clearly a heavy song. By this time, even though I was trying to reference other Bowie classics, I also felt that I had something of my own identity with David, so anything I did I was going to do it my way.
Zachary Alford
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)

Love Is Lost was an early title for the album which became The Next Day.

We went through many different designs for the album cover, but the starting point was an image he had of this concert he did at Radio City. He was telling me about how isolated he felt at that time, and that was the basis of the feeling he wanted. We tried out every single Bowie cover there’s been, but it ended up as “Heroes” because it’s such an iconic album, and the image on the front has the right kind of distance. Originally the album was going to be called Love Is Lost, which is one of the other tracks. But The Next Day, in combination with the “Heroes” image, and what the album is saying about somebody who’s looking back at his age… it just felt appropriate.
Jonathan Barnbrook
NME

The song appeared in Bowie’s 2015 stage musical Lazarus. It was performed by Michael Esper, who also recorded it for the following year’s Original Cast Recording album:

In the studio

The backing track for the song was recorded at New York’s Magic Shop studio on 13 September 2011, the same day as ‘Where Are We Now?’.

They called me down to play and he said, ‘Just bring your favourite guitar. They’d rented this replica of a Mick Ronson rig, a 100-watt or 200-watt Marshall, an eight-by-ten cabinet and this pedal which some really clever guy had remade from the original Soul Bender [distortion pedal] that Mick used to use. They had me play through that and it’s on ‘Love Is Lost’. Marc Bolan’s Stratocaster comes out in some sections too, you got to have a go on it.
Gerry Leonard
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)

Further overdubs were added at a later date. Bowie’s lead vocals were laid down at Human World Wide, the New York studio owned by Tony Visconti’s son Morgan, on 19 November 2011.

I do remember a great moment – there are many with David – but there was one part he played on the bridge in, I believe, ‘Love Is Lost’ that made me shiver.

The chord progression came out of nowhere when David put it down on the Trinity, it was pure magic. It wasn’t so much an engineering moment, but a musical one. I did say ‘Holy sh*t’ to myself!

Mario McNulty
SonicScoop, 11 March 2013

James Murphy remix

A remix of ‘Love Is Lost’ by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy was included in The Next Day Extra, the expanded edition of the album.

I really enjoyed the remixes that James Murphy did, the hand-clapping and stuff. I thought it was very inventive and a very nice way to break open that song and make it less of a band track and more of a trance kind of thing.
Gerry Leonard
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)

Murphy had met Bowie while producing Arcade Fire’s Reflektor album, and the pair later collaborated on (Blackstar).

The remix included samples of Roy Bittan’s piano from ‘Ashes To Ashes’, and a new recording of Steve Reich’s 1972 work ‘Clapping Music’, performed by Murphy, Matthew Thornley, Hisham Bharoocha, and Jordan Hebert. The result was titled ‘Love Is Lost’ (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy for the DFA).

I was obsessed with Steve Reich’s ‘Clapping Music’, so I opened it with a phasing clapping piece. I had a couple people. I had Hisham Bharoocha, who’s this percussionist-artist. He used to be in Black Dice and he’s done stuff with the Boredoms and he’s a friend of mine. So he was in town and I hadn’t seen him. He was doing this [piece] over at the Gallery where he was smashing up a room with some other percussionist-artists and I hadn’t seen him in a long time, so I literally just wanted an opportunity to hang out with my friend and work on something (laughs) since I’m always working and they’re always working. Sometimes you just have to be, “let’s do this thing together,” so I had him come over and we just made this little clapping, phasing clapping piece, that began the track. It was originally going to be the whole remix, just clapping.

The videos

A video for ‘Love Is Lost’ was made at Bowie’s Manhattan offices, and contained an edit of the DFA remix lasting 4:11.

It was first shown at the Mercury Music Prize ceremony in London on 30 October 2013, and had been filmed and edited the previous weekend. It was conceived and directed by Bowie, with camera work by photographer Jimmy King and assistance from Bowie’s longtime PA Coco Schwab.

It also featured two life-sized mannequins, of the Thin White Duke and the ‘Ashes To Ashes’ Pierrot, which were made by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop for an abandoned video for the ‘hours…’ song ‘The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell’.

Bowie’s video was released online the day after the Mercurys, with a press release putting the total cost at $12.99:

Last week David Bowie had an idea. His new single, ‘LOVE IS LOST’, was to be released this week and a video clip was needed.

Eschewing both celebrity guests and splashy production, Bowie picked up his domestic camera from home, rescued a couple of puppets from his legendary archive and wrote, shot and edited the entire video over this last weekend in the darkened corridor of his office in Manhattan, New York.

With his assistant Jimmy King on camera and best friend Coco Schwab handling everything from continuity to sandwiches they worked through the evenings finishing on Monday morning, sending it out to the rest of the world.

The result of this speedy production is a strangely moving gothic inflected storyline perfect for Halloween. And the cost? Just $12.99 for the thumb drive to download the finished video on.

davidbowie.com

A second video, directed by Barnaby Roper, again featured the full James Murphy remix, and lasted the full 10:26 length. It was posted online on 14 November 2013.

The release

‘Love Is Lost’ is the fourth song on The Next Day, which was released worldwide on 8 March 2013.

The 10-minute remix was track two on the bonus CD that came with The Next Day Extra, the expanded edition released on 4 November.

On 16 December, a limited edition 12″ vinyl single was released, which included Murphy’s remix and the Venetian Mix of ‘I’d Rather Be High’.

The edit of James Murphy’s remix was released in November 2014 on the triple-CD edition of the Nothing Has Changed compilation.

Previous song: ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’
Next song: ‘Where Are We Now?’