Diamond Dogs

Album: Diamond Dogs (1974)
Charted: 21
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Songfacts®:

  • This song introduces us to Bowie's post-Ziggy Stardust persona, Halloween Jack: "The Halloween Jack is a real cool cat and he lives on top of Manhattan Chase." It has also been suggested this song was influenced by Dhalgren, a science fiction novel by Samuel R. Delany.
  • The line, "Tod Browning's freak you was" refers to the film Freaks, which was produced and directed by Tod Browning.
  • Coveted session musician, Herbie Flowers, played bass guitar on this track. Flowers is best known for co-founding the early '70s group, Blue Mink, playing the bass line on Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side" and penning Clive Dunn's 1970 UK novelty chart-topper "Grandad." In 2008, Flowers spoke to Uncut magazine about his time spent working on the Diamond Dogs album: "We did Diamond Dogs very fast, doing basic tracks in three days in the little studio at Olympic. Bowie was writing a lot of the stuff as we were going. I think it was a semi-rescue attempt from his proposed George Orwell musical. The music was weird. I have to say I found it mildly unattractive at the time, but it was interesting stuff. Touring Diamond Dogs across America afterwards, it felt like those new songs were anarchic, all about tearing things down. It was prophetic in many ways. And the music was so loud and angry. Those shows were well organized. Strange things were going on, too. There was some in-fighting and maybe a lot of other things going on. But the band stuck together."
  • The crowd noise at the beginning of the album was sampled from studio tapes of Rod Stewart's early '70s band, The Faces. The tapes were of their live album, Coast To Coast/Overture And Beginners and if you listen close enough, you may pick up Stewart shout "Oy-oy!" as the riff starts.
  • The album cover was a painting of Bowie as half man, half dog. His back half was the dog, and he was very clearly a male dog, which prompted RCA Records to airbrush the painting and make the dog gender neutral.
  • Beck recorded this song for the 2001 movie Moulin Rouge!, where the dancers are known as the Diamond Dogs.

Comments: 9

  • Jay from Nieuwegein - NetherlandsBoth this song and the album with a similar name have a strong background in....the Netherlands. Part of the song and the album have been recorded @ Luc Ludolph Studios in Nederhorst den Berg. In January 1974 Bowie visited this studio quite unexpectedly and worked for a couple of days. Bowie stayed at the famous Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam. This song is inspired by the view he enjoyed (at least according to Dutch "Toppop" presenter Ad Visser who was there as well). Opposite the hotel is the...diamant museum (diamond museum).
  • Dylan from ForresThe character of Halloween Jack (the real cool cat) was originally intended to have a more fleshed out backstory. He lived alone at the very top of a Manhatten apartment complex and would go around the town in roller skates with a gang.
  • Hersch from Montreal, QcFor Nathan Defiance OH: a Dali Brooch is a piece of jewellry designed by Salvadore Dali.
  • David from Youngstown, OhAfter using the great (and now late) Mick Ronson on Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane, Bowie took over lead guitar duties on the Diamond Dogs record. He does a great job on this song and, of course, Rebel, Rebel, with one of the most famous guitar bits in rock music history.
  • Jessy from Greensboro, NcHas anyone else noticed the instrumental similarities between this and The Stones' "Brown Sugar"? Does anybody know if this was intentional?
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhThis song was written in the cut-up writing style similiar to William S. Burroughs. This lead to many of the bizarre disjointed lyrics. I still haven't figured out what the hell a Dali brooch is.
  • Jeremy from Warren, RiBeck's version is the worst cover I ever heard in my life, and im surprised Bowie allowed him to ruin such a classic song like Diamond Dogs! No kudos for Beck or Bowie on the cover!
  • Laura from Eatontown, NjThis song was often covered live by New Jersey's own Dramarama, who are connected to Bowie through Uncle Floyd, a NJ-based TV personality who had his own local-access cable show for 20+ years through the late 1990s. Dramarama was one of the earliest musical acts to appear on The Uncle Floyd Show (circa 1981), and one of their songs, "Work For Food," pays homage to this. It turns out that Bowie, also a Floyd fan, has chosen to honor Floyd in song as well. If you check the lyrics to Bowie's song "Slip Away," you'll hear Bowie mention two puppets from Floyd's show, Bones Boy, and Floyd's erstwhile sidekick Oogie. It also mentions Uncle Floyd himself.
  • Rachel from South Point, OhMmm... great song. I like the Beck cover for Moulin Rouge as well.
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