Written by: David Bowie, Reeves Gabrels
Producers: David Bowie, Reeves Gabrels
Released: 20 September 1999
David Bowie: vocals, guitar, keyboards, synthesizer
Reeves Gabrels: guitar, keyboards, synthesizer
Mark Plati: bass guitar
Mike Levesque: drums
Recorded during sessions for the ‘hours…’ album, ‘We Shall Go To Town’ was a b-side on some formats of David Bowie’s ‘Thursday’s Child’ single.
‘We Shall Go To Town’ is the song we wrote and recorded for ‘hours…’ that epitomized the emotional tone I hoped the album would have – yet it didn’t make it onto the album. Instead, it was the b-side to a single release of ‘Thursday’s Child’. To my mind ‘We Shall Go To Town’ would have been a linchpin track on the album, adding heavier meaning to even the lighter songs. The story has a sci-fi quality: Two people, madly in love, are so grotesque in appearance that in the past, when they went out in public, people tried to kill them. Almost like stoning in Biblical stories. One night, weary of living in shadows, the pair put on their best clothes, go to a fine restaurant, and have a night on the town despite knowing it would likely end horribly. That’s love, and that’s courage. .
Brilliant Adventure (1992-2001) book
‘hours…’ was the last studio collaboration between Bowie and guitarist Reeves Gabrels, who had worked together since 1998. Gabrels was already considering parting company with Bowie, but later cited the decision to omit ‘We Shall Go To Town’ from the album as a key factor.
There’s a track from the hours… era that was a b-side called ‘And We Shall Go To Town’ that I thought was a key track for that album and it ended up being taken off the album, and that was part of the final straw for me. It was a very dark track. Because every song was co-written, it wasn’t like I was trying to get a song on the record because I wrote it. I felt like the mood on the record shifted. The song was about two people who were so grotesque, horribly disfigured, and people would stone them on the street, and they grew tired of having to live in the shadows, it’s like an ‘Elephant Man’ thing. And they think “Tonight’s the night we go to town. This might be our last night on earth because people will probably kill us.” That was a little less jolly than ‘Thursday’s Child’.
radio.com, February 2017
The song was incorrectly named ‘We Shall All Go To Town’ on the ‘Thursday’s Child’ CD, perhaps due to the similarly-titled ‘We All Go Through’.
‘We Shall Go To Town’ was one of the tracks on Re:Call 5, a compilation of his non-album singles, single versions, remixes and b-sides included in the 2021 box set Brilliant Adventure (1992-2001).