Released: 20 April 1987
Never Let Me Down
David Bowie: vocals, guitar, keyboards
Carlos Alomar, Peter Frampton: guitar
Erdal Kızılçay: keyboards, synthesizer, bass guitar, drums
Philippe Saisse: piano
Crusher Bennett: percussion
Robin Clark, Loni Groves, Diva Gray, Gordon Grodie: backing vocals
Reeves Gabrels: lead guitar, rhythm guitar
Sterling Campbell: drums
Mario J McNulty: percussion
‘New York’s In Love’ was David Bowie’s anthropomorphic tribute to the American city he would later call home. It was released on his 1987 album Never Let Me Down.
A rather sarcastic song about New York [laughs], that real vain aspect of big cities. They’re so pompous and big and in love with themselves.
Music & Sound Output, June 1987
The Big Apple had figured in a handful previous Bowie songs, from ‘The Jean Genie’ in the 1970s to the following decade’s ‘Shake It’ and ‘Don’t Look Down’, but his 2003 album Reality was his most New York-centred work.
Bowie and Iman bought their first home in New York in 1992, a ninth-floor apartment at the Essex House Hotel on Central Park South, and he remained a resident in the city until the end of his life.
On the original vinyl edition of Never Let Me Down, seven songs were edited for length. ‘New York’s In Love’ was reduced from 4:32 to 3:55. The ‘Vinyl Album Edit’ was included on Re:Call 4 in the 2018 box set Loving The Alien (1983-1988).
Bowie performed ‘New York’s In Love’ live in the opening seven concerts of 1987’s Glass Spider Tour, after which it was dropped.
Loving The Alien (1983-1988) contained Never Let Me Down (2018), in which Bowie’s vocals were retained but the backing tracks were mostly re-recorded. Produced by Mario J McNulty, it fulfilled Bowie’s wish for the album to be reworked, fixing the production which he always thought portrayed the songs badly.
That one was interesting. Peter Frampton’s playing on the track had a certain pentatonic blues foundation. Now, I love Frampton. His live album with Humble Pie is one of my all-time favorites. But when I listened to what he did with the song, it got me thinking about how New York isn’t really about the blues anymore. It’s more multicultural, and there’s a definite Asian and Middle Eastern thing going on. You walk down the street on a Saturday night, and you see this new wave of immigrants, and you hear sirens going by.
I wanted to reflect that change with what I did. I wanted police sirens to come out of the guitar. I told Mario, “Put up that song and let me see what happens.” I figured out where the harmony was, and I just stretched it. I soloed through the whole song and tried different things, and I reacted to what was going on. When the song ended, Mario looked at me and said, “Well, that one’s done then.” [laughs]
Guitar Player, 2 November 2018