David Bowie explained to the Mail on Sunday June 29, 2008 that this medley of three songs was originally written for his aborted musical 1984: "I'd failed to obtain the theatrical rights from George Orwell's widow for the book 1984 and having written three or more songs for it already, I did a fast about-face and recobbled the idea into Diamond Dogs: teen punks on rusty skates living on the roofs of the dystopian Hunger City; a post-apocalyptic landscape.
A centrepiece for this would-be stage production was to be 'Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing,' which I wrote using William Burroughs's cut-up method. You write down a paragraph or two describing several different subjects creating a kind of story ingredients list, I suppose, and then cut the sentences into four or five-word sections; mix 'em up and reconnect them. You can get some pretty interesting idea combinations like this. You can use them as is or, if you have a craven need to not lose control, bounce off these ideas and write whole new sections.
I was looking to create a profligate world that could have been inhabited by characters from Kurt Weill or John Rechy - that sort of atmosphere. A bridge between Enid Blyton's Beckenham and The Velvet Underground's New York. Without Noddy, though.
I thought it evocative to wander between the melodramatic 'Sweet Thing' croon into the dirty sound of 'Candidate' and back again. For no clear reason (what's new?) I stopped singing this song around the mid-'70s. Though I've never had the patience or discipline to get down to finishing a musical theater idea other than the Rock shows I'm known for, I know what I'd try to produce if I did. I've never been keen on traditional musicals. I find it awfully hard to suspend my disbelief when dialogue is suddenly song. I suppose one of the few people who can make this work is Stephen Sondheim with works such as Assassins. I much prefer through-sung pieces where there is little if any dialogue at all. Sweeney Todd is a good example, of course. Peter Grimes and The Turn Of The Screw, both operas by Benjamin Britten, and The Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny by Weill. How fantastic to be able to create something like that."