Written by: David Bowie
Recorded: July, October 2000
Producers: David Bowie, Mark Plati
Released: 15 September 2003
Nothing Has Changed
David Bowie: vocals, Stylophone
Earl Slick: guitar
Mark Plati: guitar, keyboards
Mike Garson: piano
Lisa Germano: violin
Cuong Vu: trumpet
Gail Ann Dorsey: bass guitar
Sterling Campbell: drums
Holly Palmer, Emm Gryner: vocals
David Bowie recorded ‘Toy (Your Turn To Drive)’ as the title track of the abandoned Toy album in 2000.
The Toy project was shelved in 2001 and Bowie moved on to record Heathen and Reality, although he allowed several of its songs to be released as bonus tracks, downloads, b-sides, and on compilations.
The retitled ‘Your Turn To Drive’ was released in September 2003 as a digital download, for customers who bought Reality from HMV’s website. It later became Bowie’s first song to be made available via the iTunes Music Store.
Most of the Toy album leaked online in 2011, with a different mix from the 2003 download. The album was officially released in November 2021.
The first physical release of ‘Toy (Your Turn To Drive)’ was on the triple-CD edition of the Nothing Has Changed compilation in November 2014.
‘Toy’ was the one song not from the 60s – it was constructed from a jam at the end of one of the takes of ‘I Dig Everything’. Much as ‘You’ve Got A Habit’ has a coda where everybody comes back in and it all ramps up again, sometimes we would spontaneously start jamming once we’d come to the proper end of a song. As happened on more than a few occasions, David would hear a snippet of something and off we’d go. ‘Toy’ is based around rearranged sections of Sterling’s drums and Gail’s bass; a couple of sections of Mike’s piano were looped in different spots; next we worked in electric guitars from Slick and I. There was a guitar lick of Slick’s that David had me sample and time stretch, and then use as a repeating figure. Lastly, some of Holly and Emm’s backing vocals from the body of ‘I Dig Everything’ were cut up and reassembled. Once the new form was completed, Emm came in and added additional backing vocals and Lisa Germano played violin.
Around this time Holly had a show at Brownies, a live venue in the East Village. We all went to the show and David was immediately taken with Cuong Vu on trumpet; in typical fashion, within a few days he was with us at Looking Glass and improvised over the long ending. Finally, I added acoustic guitar and David added scratch vocals to sketch out the melody, which he later replaced once he’d written lyrics around the time of the mix. ‘Toy’ had been the working title of the song; that was kept in place until it was retitled ‘Your Turn To Drive’ some five months later.
‘Toy’ harkened back to Outside in the sense that we fashioned a song from an improvisation; it was also a return to the Earthling process where the composite was assembled in the computer, opening the door to another level of editing not possible with tape. It was also a nod to al the remixing we did around the time of Earthling. As it was culled from ‘I Dig Everything’ it makes sense to bookend the album with this track – though it’s also a fitting postscript to 2000 and the Toy era. The long, lonely fadeout, with Cuong Vu’s hazy trumpet alongside David and Emm’s mournful sounding vocals, was almost prescient of a darkness to come.
Brilliant Adventure (1992-2001) book