David Bowie – Deram debut album cover, 1967Written by: David Bowie
Recorded: 8, 9 December 1966, 25 January 1969
Producer: Mike Vernon
Engineer: Gus Dudgeon

Released: 1 June 1967

David Bowie: vocals
John Renbourn: guitar
Dek Fearnley: bass guitar
John Eager: drums
Unknown session musicians

Available on:
David Bowie

Initially considered as the follow-up to David Bowie’s ‘Rubber Band’ single, ‘Sell Me A Coat’ was instead released as the second song on his self-titled debut album.

Although uptempo and with a jaunty melody, the lyrics to ‘Sell Me A Coat’ depict a failed love affair in which the protagonist has been left by his summer lover.

The seasonal differences represent the changes in their relationship, and Jack Frost – signifying winter – is blamed for taking away his love.

A winter’s day, a bitter snowflake on my face
My summer girl takes little backward steps away
Jack Frost took her hand and left me
Jack Frost ain’t so cool…

Bowie performed ‘Sell Me A Coat’ in Lindsay Kemp’s theatrical show Pierrot In Turquoise (also known as The Looking Glass Murders). The play opened in December 1967 at Oxford’s New Theatre before touring in 1968.

In 1968 the song was offered separately to Judy Collins and Peter, Paul and Mary, both of whom turned it down.

It was, however, recorded in 1967 by no-hit wonders The Pudding, a short-lived UK psychedelic band. The Pudding’s version was discovered in 2010 on an acetate disc with their cover of The Who’s ‘Magic Bus’ on the a-side. Interestingly, their rendition of ‘Sell Me A Coat’ is believed to have been taped prior to Bowie’s own, making it one of the earliest Bowie cover versions.

‘Sell Me A Coat’ was one of three songs from the David Bowie album which were included in the Love You Till Tuesday film; the others were ‘Rubber Band’ and ‘When I Live My Dream’.

During the sequence for ‘Sell Me A Coat’, Bowie’s girlfriend and bandmate Hermione Farthingale was required to stare into the eyes of John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson, Bowie’s songwriting partner and fellow member of Feathers.

Our noses were almost touching and she said something naughty to me. I realised she wasn’t just a straight lady as I had thought.
John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson
Alias David Bowie, Peter and Leni Gillman

The song was treated with new overdubs for the film, which were recorded on 25 January 1969. These included additional instrumentation, new backing vocals by Bowie, Farthingale and Hutchinson.

Lyrics

La la la la la la
La la la la la la la

A winter’s day
A bitter snowflake on my face
My summer girl
Takes little backward steps away

Jack Frost took her hand and left me
Jack frost ain’t so cool

Sell me a coat with buttons of silver
Sell me a coat that’s red or gold
Sell me a coat with little patch pockets
Sell me a coat ’cause I feel cold

And when she smiles
The ice forgets to melt away
Not like before
Her smile was warm in yesterday

See the trees like silver candy
Feel my icy hand

Sell me a coat with buttons of silver
Sell me a coat that’s red or gold
Sell me a coat with little patch pockets
Sell me a coat ’cause I feel cold

See my eyes, my window pane
See my tears like gentle rain
That’s the memory of a summer day

Sell me a coat with buttons of silver
Sell me a coat that’s red or gold
Sell me a coat with little patch pockets
Sell me a coat ’cause I feel cold

Sell me a coat with buttons of silver
Sell me a coat that’s red or gold
Sell me a coat with little patch pockets
Sell me a coat ’cause I feel cold

La la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la la la