1. Outside album coverWritten by: David Bowie, Brian Eno
Recorded: January 1995
Producers: David Bowie, Brian Eno, David Richards

Released: 25 September 1995

Available on:


David Bowie: vocals
Brian Eno: keyboards, synthesizer
Carlos Alomar, Reeves Gabrels: guitar
Yossi Fine: bass guitar
Joey Baron: drums

‘No Control’ is the ninth track on David Bowie’s 1.Outside album. It is sung from the perspective of detective Nathan Adler.

The song was recorded on 20 January 1995, Brian Eno’s final day working at New York’s Hit Factory studios.

David appeared and on first hearing had the body of a great song. It was effectively finished in the hour, making five bull’s-eyes in five days. The song ‘No Control’ – gorgeous, mature. There’s a stunning section in it where he alludes to that style of singing you get in Broadway musicals, when the hero looks up into the sun, one arm extended to the future, and sings in this gloriously open-throated, honest, touchingly trusting way. It’s a style of singing that belongs to the middle of this century, the time of great dreams for the future. It manifested itself in totalitarian theatre (e.g. Chinese revolutionary opera) and Broadway musicals. Watching him tune it to just the right pitch of sincerity and parody was one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen in a studio. I wonder if he realizes how good an artist he is at that kind of thing. People often take their own talents for granted. It’s funny that the song is called ‘No Control’, because this performance by him is a paradigm of control.
Brian Eno, 20 January 1995
A Year with Swollen Appendices

When referencing Broadway musicals, Eno may have had High Society in mind; the song ‘Well Did You Evah’, written by Cole Porter for the 1939 musical DuBarry Was a Lady, which also appeared in the 1956 film High Society. The two songs share a melodic similarity during the verses.

Along with ‘Wishful Beginnings’ and the spoken-word segues, ‘No Control’ was never performed live by Bowie. The song was, however, included in The SpongeBob Musical, with new lyrics by Jonathan Coulton. The musical opened in Chicago in June 2016 before transferring to Broadway. Eno was correct in his assessment.

The vinyl edition of the album was titled Excerpts From 1.Outside. In addition to shorter edits of ‘Leon Takes Us Outside’ and ‘The Motel’, it omitted the songs ‘No Control’, ‘Wishful Beginnings’, ‘Thru’ These Architects Eyes’, and ‘Strangers When We Meet’, as well as the Algeria Touchshriek and second Nathan Adler segues.

Previous song: ‘I Have Not Been To Oxford Town’
Next song: ‘(Segue) – Algeria Touchshriek’
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