Cat People (Putting Out Fire)

Album: Let's Dance (1982)
Charted: 26 67

Songfacts®:

  • This was originally recorded as the theme song for director Paul Shrader's remake of the 1942 horror film Cat People. German producer Giorgio Moroder had already recorded most of the music and Shrader asked Bowie to write the words and record the main theme. The movie is about a family with a tendency to turn into panthers.
  • The single became Bowie's biggest solo hit in America since "Golden Years" six years previously in 1976. It peaked at #1 in New Zealand, remaining there for three weeks and was also #1 in Sweden.

    Buoyed by it's success, Bowie re-recorded the song for his Let's Dance album the following year. The second verse, which begins "Feel my blood enraged" was left off his updated version. Most people prefer his stronger, atmospheric original version, which was included on his 1993 American greatest hits release Bowie: The Singles (1969-1993) but not on the UK equivalent - The Singles Collection.
  • According to Giorgio Moroder, even though he can seem like he's from outer space, Bowie was a consummate professional when they recorded this. Moroder met him in Switzerland, where they had breakfast, went to the studio, and recorded the song in two or three takes.
  • Quentin Tarantino used this song in his World War II movie Inglorious Basterds during a scene when a character is contemplating arson. He told Rolling Stone: "I've always really loved that song. It's one of my favorite David Bowie songs of the '80s but I never liked the way it was used in the movie [Cat People] because Paul Schrader didn't really use it in the movie. He just threw it in the closing credits and I remember me and all the other guys at Video Archives were very disappointed by that. We'd go, 'Man, if we had a song like that written for our movie, we'd build a 20 minute sequence around it!' So I did."

    In 2017 the song was used in the film Atomic Blonde, which also takes place in Germany.
  • Shooter Jennings and Marilyn Manson recorded this song for Jennings' 2016 album Countach, which is a tribute to Giorgio Moroder. In our interview with Jennings, he explained how it came together. "Manson and I had been friends for several years, and I had invited him out to this party at this club I was at. He came to meet me and I was like, 'Hey, I'm doing this Giorgio record and he did this 'Cat People' song with Bowie. Do you like that song?' And he started singing it right there and he was telling me he had a list of songs that he warmed up with every night before shows and that was the primary one.

    Then I went and cut a track, sent it to him and he liked it. I brought all my s--t to his house at like three in the morning and he cut the thing in one take basically. He did a couple more takes but I didn't even use them. So it was one of those things where it just kind of came together. I probably wouldn't have done that song had he not said he would do it. "
  • In The Office episode "Cafe Disco" from season 5, Michael and Erin dance to this.

Comments: 2

  • Lester from New York City, NyHaven't seen Tina Turner in quite awhile (20 years minimum), but she did a great version of this song at The Pier in NYC all those many years ago.

    Watch 'Cat People' for the longer, slower, but just as great film-ending version.
  • Jessica from Tulsa, OkThis song is used in Inglourious Basterds where Melanie Laurent's character Shosanna is looking out the window wanting revenge.
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