David Bowie – Deram debut album cover, 1967Written by: David Bowie
Recorded: 25 February; 3 June 1967
Producer: Mike Vernon
Engineer: Gus Dudgeon

Released: 1 June 1967

Available on:
David Bowie
The Width Of A Circle


David Bowie: vocals
John Renbourn: guitar
Dek Fearnley: bass guitar
Derek Boyes: organ
John Eager: drums
Unknown session musicians

First recorded for David Bowie’s 1967 debut album, ‘When I Live My Dream’ was subsequently remade as a potential single, and featured as the final song in the Love You Till Tuesday film.

Bowie reportedly thought highly of the song, and he and his manager Kenneth Pitt hoped that it would become the breakthrough song that led to stardom. Although this was not to be, it remains one of the highlights of the David Bowie album.

Bowie recorded a version of ‘When I Live My Dream’ during his first BBC radio session, for the Top Gear show on 18 December 1967. It was produced by Bernie Andrews, and had Bowie on acoustic guitar, with accompaniment from the Arthur Greenslade Orchestra.

The other songs recorded for the session, which was first broadcast on 24 December, were ‘Love You Till Tuesday’, ‘In The Heat Of The Morning’, ‘Silly Boy Blue’, and ‘Little Bombardier’. All of the recordings were included on the deluxe reissue of David Bowie in 2010.

‘When I Live My Dream’ was also included in Lindsay Kemp’s mime stage production Pierrot In Turquoise, which opened at Oxford’s New Theatre on 28 December 1967.

In 1967, a mutual friend told me about David and gave me his first album. I fell in love with his plaintive voice. I played ‘When I Live My Dream’ before a show in London, and David was flattered, came backstage and fell in love with my world. He started dance classes with me the next day.
Lindsday Kemp
The Guardian, 23 February 2013

Bowie often performed ‘When I Lived My Dream’ during live shows in the late Sixties. A notable instance was at the Malta International Song Festival. On 26 July 1969, the opening night of the festival, Bowie sang the song with an orchestral backing, conducted by Norrie Paramour.

Six days later, on 1 August, he performed ‘When I Live My Dream’ at the Festival Internazionale del Disco in Monsummano Terme, Tuscany, Italy, where he sang to a backing tape.

In the studio

‘When I Live My Dream’ was first recorded at Decca’s Studio Two on Saturday 25 February 1967.

Three songs for Bowie’s debut album were recorded during the session: a remake of ‘Rubber Band’, ‘Love You Till Tuesday’, and ‘When I Live My Dream’. Also planned but not recorded was a new stereo version of ‘The London Boys’.

The session was produced by Mike Vernon, and was arranged by an uncredited Arthur Greenslade. The three songs were recorded and mixed in stereo between 10am and 6pm.

A second recording of ‘When I Live My Dream’ was taped on 3 June 1967, two days after the release of Bowie’s debut album. Arranged by Ivor Raymonde, it was intended for release as a single in October that year, but was rejected by Decca.

The re-recording was subsequently included as the closing song in the Love You Till Tuesday film. It was also included on the Bowie compilation The Deram Anthology 1966-1968 and on the 2010 deluxe edition of David Bowie.

Bowie recorded a German language vocal part for the song on 24 and 29 January 1969, with the lyrics translated by Lisa Busch. Titled ‘Mit Mir In Deinem Traum’ (‘With Me In Your Dream’), this was intended for a German version of Love You Till Tuesday, but remained unused.

Two versions of ‘When I Live My Dream’ have appeared on bootlegs, the first of which is a different vocal take sung over the June 1967 Decca re-recording.

The second features Bowie on plaintive vocals, with an electric organ accompaniment by Michael Garrett. It was recorded on 1 February 1970 at the Gateway Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland, for Lindsay Kemp’s show, now renamed Pierre In Turquoise or The Looking Glass Murders. It was filmed by Brian Mahoney for Scottish TV series Gateway, in which Bowie lip-synced to the new recording.

The 2021 album The Width Of A Circle contained ‘When I Live My Dream’ and ‘When I Live My Dream’ (Reprise) from Pierre In Turquoise.

Previous song: ‘We Are Hungry Men’
Next song: ‘Little Bombardier’
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