This acoustic song is about the artist Andy Warhol, who was one of Bowie's greatest inspirations. In his 2003 interview with Performing Songwriter magazine, Bowie explained that he had not met Warhol when he wrote this song and he got an interesting reaction when he played it for him. Said Bowie: "I took the song to The Factory when I first came to America and played it to him, and he hated it. Loathed it. He went [imitates Warhol's blasé manner] 'Oh, uh-huh, okay...' then just walked away (laughs). I was left there. Somebody came over and said, 'Gee, Andy hated it.' I said, 'Sorry, it was meant to be a compliment.' 'Yeah, but you said things about him looking weird. Don't you know that Andy has such a thing about how he looks? He's got a skin disease and he really thinks that people kind of see that.' I was like, 'Oh, no.' It didn't go down very well, but I got to know him after that. It was my shoes that got him. That's where we found something to talk about. They were these little yellow things with a strap across them, like girls' shoes. He absolutely adored them. Then I found out that he used to do a lot of shoe designing when he was younger. He had a bit of a shoe fetishism. That kind of broke the ice. He was an odd guy."
Andy Warhol (1931-1987) was an American pop artist whose pictures of soup tins and celebrities were often produced by silk-screen in multiple images. He also made films, such as Sheep (1963), and Chelsea Girls (1967), in a rambling documentary style. His best known contribution in the music world was managing the New York band The Velvet Underground between 1965 and 1967 and designing the cover for their debut album. Warhol's flair for self-publicity made him a household name in the late 1960s and it was he who coined the phrase "15 minutes of fame."
Bowie would go on to play Andy Warhol in the 1996 film, Basquiat, which is based on the life of the American artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Bowie originally wrote the song for actress and singer Dana Gillespie whom he first met at London's Marquee Club in 1963 or 1964. Gillespie performed backing vocals on the Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars track "It Ain't Easy." In 1973 she recorded an album, Weren't Born a Man, produced by Bowie and Mick Ronson , which included a version of this song.
Gillespie recalled to Mojo her early days with Bowie in the mid 1960s: "I was already in a band - I was the drummer - and he was very encouraging of my songwriting. He'd show me guitar licks and he took me down to Ready Steady Go!, where I met the producer. A bit later, I had a spot after Donovan, and it was David who suggested I do 'Love Is Strange,' the old Mickey & Sylvia hit from the '50s. He showed me the bassline, and everything. We had a bit of a fling but we were all really young -me especially."