1. Outside album coverWritten by: David Bowie, Brian Eno
Recorded: 13-16 January 1995
Producers: David Bowie, Brian Eno, David Richards

Released: 25 September 1995

Available on:
Ouvrez Le Chien (Live Dallas 95)
No Trendy Réchauffé (Live Birmingham 95)


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

‘We Prick You’ is the fifteenth track on David Bowie’s 1995 album 1.Outside.

With a handful of exceptions, the 1.Outside songs are sung from the perspective of selected characters in the murder mystery. ‘We Prick You’ is, according to the Outside Tour programme, “To be sung by Members of the Court of Justice”.

David was a king of hooks and catchy. Hear that phrase repeating in the background here.

Do you think the hook “tell the truth” we’re listening to right now applies today, my friends? #winkwink

Mike Garson
Twitter, 5 July 2020

The loop of Bowie saying “You show respect, even if you disagree” was originally to have been a sample of Camille Paglia. The academic and social critic missed out on appearing on a Bowie album after failing to grant permission.

Actually, it is likely. I nearly sampled Camille Paglia on this album, but she never returned my calls! She kept sending messages through her assistant saying, ‘Is this really David Bowie, and if it is, is it important?’ (laughs), and I just gave up! So I replaced her line with me.
David Bowie
Time Out, 23-30 August 1995

In the studio

‘We Prick You’ was recorded in January 1995 at New York’s Hit Factory studios. The sessions were planned for overdubs and final additions to the album, although several new songs were recorded that month.

The basis of the track was ‘I’m Afraid Of Americans’, the Earthling song which started life as ‘Dummy’ in late 1994 or early 1995. Eno took the drums from ‘Dummy’ and helped the other studio musicians – guitarist Carlos Alomar and drummer Joey Baron – fashion something new.

We didn’t do anything interesting until about 3.30. Then I started a new track based on my drums from ‘Dummy’. It’s a beginning, though the current vocal (‘We fuck you, we fuck you’) leaves something to be desired.
Brian Eno, 13 January 1995
A Year with Swollen Appendices

The bulk of the recording took place the following day, during which the final title emerged.

But what a wonderful day – such a glorious weather – soft and warm and with a sheeny mist on the highest peaks (such as 666 5th, which was just fading away into the cloud). Then a fabulous day in the studio doing ‘We Prick You’, which fell together faultlessly. Whatever strange thing it is that the two of us are good at (three including Dave Richards) is so well manifest here. The deal is simple: I start on a musical landscape to develop a sense of emotional place; D. B. does all the singing and thus discovers the voice in the wilderness. Meanwhile D. R. pays attention and facilitates. The result sounds like something no one else would have done.
Brian Eno, 14 January 1995
A Year with Swollen Appendices

The song was completed on 16 January, although Eno noted that it had been given the working title ‘Robot Punk’.

At work we pretty well finished ‘Robot Punk’ – or whatever we’ll finally call it – thanks to Carlos’s amazing contribution. He plays like a kind of liquid – always making lovely melodies within his rhythm lines, and rhythms within his melody lines. What a good team we three make. Joey Baron’s idea: to charge such a lot for sessions that you don’t get booked too often. That way you get to do your own work.
Brian Eno, 16 January 1995
A Year with Swollen Appendices

Live performances

David Bowie performed ‘We Prick You’ throughout the Outside Tour in 1995 and 1996.

The first performance was on 12 September 1995 at the Meadows Music Theater in Hartford, CT.

Recordings from October and December 1995 can be heard on the 2020 live albums Ouvrez Le Chien (Live Dallas 95) and No Trendy Réchauffé (Live Birmingham 95).

Bowie’s final performance ‘We Prick You’ was on 16 July 1996 at the Ahoy in Rotterdam, Netherlands, one of the later shows in the Outside Summer Festivals Tour.

Previous song: ‘Wishful Beginnings’
Next song: ‘(Segue) – Nathan Adler (1)’
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