Released: 20 September 1999
Reeves Gabrels: guitar, synthesizer, drum programming
Mark Plati: bass guitar
Mike Levesque: drums
Holly Palmer: vocals
‘Thursday’s Child’ is the opening song and lead single from ‘…hours’, David Bowie’s 22nd studio album.
After the experimental art rock of 1.Outside and the electronic expeditions of Earthling, fans might have expected Bowie to have gone further on his next album. Instead he undertook a volte-face, returning with an introspective ballad which was unlike much else he recorded in the 1990s.
The song was not autobiographical or to be taken literally. For a start, Bowie was born on 8 January 1947, a Wednesday.
No, I don’t find it particularly hard – the guy in the song’s had a tough life, though. He’s a teeth-grinding, I’ll-get-this-job-done guy. But, right, it’s not a dogged labour for me: I do work hard, but it comes easily.”
Uncut, October 1999
As he explained on VH1 Storytellers, it was inspired by Eartha Kitt’s 1956 autobiography Thursday’s Child. It is worth mentioning that Kitt was born on 17 January 1927, a Monday, and ‘Thursday’s Child’ was also the name of a song and album released by her in 1956.
This little pretty ditty is from a new album that we’ve made called ‘…hours’. It’s called ‘Thursday’s Child’. It’s a title not imbued with arcane knowledge as you might think, but it was prompted by the memory of the autobiography of Eartha Kitt.
When I was about fourteen, Eartha Kitt and DH Lawrence were some of my favourite bedtime reading. Not just at my bedtimes, if the truth be known! I’d seen this paperback in WH Smith’s, the Eartha Kitt life story, and she was standing quite sexily by a tree with fields in the background, and it was called Thursday’s Child.
That stayed with me since I was fourteen, I don’t know why, but it just kind of bubbled up the other month when we wrote this. This song, I might point out, is not actually about Eartha Kitt!
Another influence – this time on the “Monday, Tuesday” backing vocals – was ‘The Inch Worm’, written by Frank Loesser and originally performed by Danny Kaye in the 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen. The song was a key influence on Bowie during childhood.
‘Inch Worm’ is a very important song to me… ‘Two and two are four, four and four are eight…” I love the effect of two melodies together. That nursery rhyme feeling shows itself in a lot of songs I’ve written, like ‘Ashes To Ashes’. And maybe on my new album, ‘Thursday’s Child’.
When Ziggy Played Guitar, Dylan Jones