The Next Day album coverWritten by: David Bowie
Recorded: 3 May 2011; 2 March 2012
Producers: David Bowie, Tony Visconti
Engineers: Mario McNulty, Tony Visconti

Released: 8 March 2013

Available on:
The Next Day


David Bowie: vocals, acoustic guitar
Gerry Leonard, David Torn, Tony Visconti: guitar
Gail Ann Dorsey: bass guitar, vocals
Zachary Alford: drums
Henry Hey: piano
Antoine Silverman, Maxim Moston, Hiroko Taguchi, Anja Wood: strings
Janice Pendarvis: vocals

‘You Feel So Lonely You Could Die’ is the penultimate song on The Next Day, David Bowie’s penultimate studio album.

It’s about Russian history, from the time of the Cold War and espionage and about an ugly demise. It sounds like an R&B song.
Tony Visconti
The Times, 12 January 2013

The song is the longest on The Next Day. It is one of five to break the four-minute mark, the others being ‘Where Are We Now?’, ‘Boss Of Me’, ‘How Does The Grass Grow’, and ‘Heat’.

Bowie often dropped in references to favourite songs, books, films and other creative works. The title ‘You Feel So Lonely You Could Die’ paraphrases ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, while the 6/8 meter and building arrangement recalls the Ziggy Stardust denouement ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’. Yet while the earlier song was a clarion call for solidarity and fraternity, 2013’s Bowie could find little in the way of sympathy.

The Next Day is one of Bowie’s darkest albums, its lyrics telling of slaughter, fire and fury, of funerals and isolation, with little reprieve or redemption. ‘You Feel So Lonely You Could Die’ finds Bowie at his most vengeful and vindictive – his very own ‘Positively 4th Street’ – mercilessly willing misery and suicide on a hapless unidentified foe.

In Bowie’s list of 42 words to elucidate the themes of The Next Day, the three for ‘You Feel So Lonely You Could Die’ were: Traitor, Urban, Comeuppance.

The song ends with another Ziggy reference. Zach Alford played the distinctive beat from ‘Five Years’ at the close, at Bowie’s request.

I assumed it [The Next Day] was a retrospective record in a way, because he’s not coming here with Pro Tools tracks ready to overdub, he’s working things up with an acoustic and his keyboard. A lot of the songs were evocative of either Lodger or Let’s Dance-era stuff, or even older, Diamond Dogs. There’s a moment when he told me to play the beat for ‘Five Years’ on the outro of a song. There were lots of little coded references.
Zachary Alford
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)

In the studio

The backing track for ‘You Feel So Lonely You Could Die’ was recorded at New York’s Magic Shop studio on 3 May 2011, the second day of sessions for The Next Day. ‘How Does The Grass Grow?’ and was laid down on the same day.

On 2 March 2012 Bowie added lead vocals to ‘You Feel So Lonely You Could Die’, ‘Like A Rocket Man’, and part of ‘I’ll Take You There’.

Previous song: ‘(You Will) Set The World On Fire’
Next song: ‘Heat’
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