In the studio

The short break between ‘Diamond Dogs’ and ‘Sweet Thing’ is the only moment of silence in the entire first half of Diamond Dogs. ‘Sweet Thing’ then begins with a reversed piano chord played by Mike Garson, with some additional guitar and Mellotron.

He probably even played some piano because he always plays a little piano on everything, you know? But anything that sounded like me was me. Especially ‘Sweet Thing’, which is one of my big contributions to him.

Oh, it’s tremendous. I hadn’t heard it for 20-some odd years, and then somebody turned me on to it a few years ago because I didn’t even remember playing it.

Mike Garson, June 2004

The backwards chord was an idea which Bowie would repeat with John Lennon the following year on ‘Fame’. Here is Garson’s introduction as it was originally played:

Live performances

‘Sweet Thing’/‘Candidate’/‘Sweet Thing (Reprise)’ was performed throughout the Diamond Dogs Tour in 1974, but was dropped when it became the Soul Tour later in the year. Bowie never again performed it live.

For no clear reason (what’s new?) I stopped singing this song around the mid-Seventies.
David Bowie
Mail Online

A performance of the medley from July 1974, recorded at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia, is on David Live.

Another, from 5 September 1974, was released on the 2017 album Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles ’74).

A rare filmed performance of the medley, from Los Angeles on 2 September 1974, can be seen in the 1975 BBC television documentary Cracked Actor.

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Next song: ‘Candidate’