Written by: George Harrison
Recorded: January-May 2003
Producers: David Bowie, Tony Visconti
Engineers: Mario McNulty, Tony Visconti
Released: 15 September 2003
David Bowie: vocals, guitar, synthesizer, baritone saxophone
Earl Slick/David Torn/Gerry Leonard: guitar
Tony Visconti: bass guitar
Sterling Campbell: drums
David Bowie recorded a version of George Harrison’s ‘Try Some, Buy Some’ for his 2003 album Reality.
The song itself, I think, is really good. It’s so simple yet so complicated. It was the sort of thing I found myself playing over and over again and being amazed by the simplicity of the movement of the bass lines.
Record Mirror, 15 April 1972
Harrison gave the song to Ronnie Spector, for a planned comeback album to be released by Apple Records. A handful of songs were produced by her husband Phil Spector before the project ended.
‘Try Some, Buy Some’ was released as a single in April 1971, although it was not a commercial success. Harrison reused the backing track and added new lead vocals before releasing it on his 1973 album Living In The Material World.
The song, written in 1970, revealed Harrison’s disillusionment with drug taking, and his salvation in finding God. It was a theme to which Bowie, a former addict, could relate.
George’s song, ‘Try Some, Buy Some’, means a lot to me now. When I first heard that song it had a very different narrative to it. Now my connection to the song is about leaving a way of life behind me and finding something new. It’s overstated about most rock artists leaving drugs, it’s such a bore to read about it. But when I first heard the song in ’74 I was yet to go through my heavy drug period. And now it’s about the consolation of having kicked all that and turning your life around.
The Word, October 2003
In 1979 Bowie played some of his favourite records on the BBC Radio 1 show Star Special, which included ‘Try Some, Buy Some’.
This is a song that made me fall in love with the singer. Absolutely incredible, my heart went straight out to her. It was produced by Phil Spector. I may be wrong but I think it’s the last single that he ever made, because he was so depressed that it didn’t do anything, that nobody bought it. Which is quite ironic really, because the title was ‘Try Some, Buy Some’, and it’s by his ex-wife Ronnie Spector.
Star Special, BBC Radio 1
Bowie discussed his admiration for Ronnie Spector again the following year. Speaking about Tom Verlaine’s ‘Kingdom Come’, which Bowie covered on Scary Monsters… And Super Creeps, he said:
This was one of my favourite things that he put on the last album that he had out. And Carlos Alomar and myself decided it would be a great piece of music to do our own version of. So I did it as sort of a nod of the head to Ronnie Spector, really. Very slightly. Somebody else that I admire tremendously.
The David Bowie Interview promo album
Bowie’s handwritten lyrics for the same album’s ‘It’s No Game’ and ‘Up The Hill Backwards’ contain notes which mention ‘Try Some Buy Some’, suggesting that he was striving for a similar sound on the album.
During various dates of the Sound + Vision Tour in 1990, David Bowie incorporated a number of other songs into performances of ‘The Jean Genie’. These included ‘Try Some, Buy Some’, more than a decade before the recording of Reality.
‘Try Some, Buy Some’ was performed by Bowie on just nine occasions. The first was on 8 September 2003 at London’s Riverside Studios, a filmed performance before BowieNet members which was also broadcast online.
I’m looking forward to doing this one, but well it’s kind of, it’s not my song so I don’t know… I love this song so much, and I hope I do it justice tonight. This one is written by George Harrison, it’s called ‘Try Some, Buy Some’.
Riverside Studios, London
I remember playing this song live with David – I played a harpsichord sound. There’s some dark, circusy sounds going on here. It’s very infectious with a great bass line. #TimsTwitterListeningParty
— Mike Garson (@mikegarson) August 2, 2020
Bowie’s final performance of the song was on 25 April 2004 at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado.