Private Life

Album: Warm Leatherette (1980)
Charted: 17

Songfacts®:

  • On this song Grace Jones dismisses another person's life dramas with an nonchalant sneer.
  • This was written by Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, as "like all the other London punks, I wanted to do reggae." It was included on The Pretenders 1980 self-titled debut album but when the singer heard Jones' version she conceded, "That's how it's supposed to be done."
  • Jamaican musical legends Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare supplied the backing to this track. They were session musicians for years, providing reggae rhythms for Bob Dylan ("Jokerman") and Maxi Priest ("Wide World") among others. Meanwhile, their production skills have been used by such artists as No Doubt ("Hey Baby") and Chaka Demus & Pliers ("Twist And Shout"). The duo are arguably the most prolific recording artists ever, having according to allmusic.com played on or produced close to 200,000 songs.
  • Dunbar recalled to Mojo magazine December 2008 that the template for Grace Jones' innovative early 1980s new wave/urban/club hybrid originated on this song. He recalled: "It came from Peter (Tosh) at that time, and we were doing gigs with the Stones and with Santana, so we used to sit and listen. This is when we start opening the snare to get more 'crack' on the back beat and more 'choof' with the foot drum.
    So we get to Nassau. Chris (Blackwell, founder of Island Records) say, 'We're just gonna make some music.' They thought that we should rehearse first, and then go into the studio and cut it, but Robbie said, 'No mon, we should rehearse in the studio and cut what we have immediately to get a groove. So Alex Sadkin set up everything, put the drums up, clean the skins, and the first song was 'Warm Leatherette,' the second was 'Private Life.' Those two songs, we nail them to the bone, man, and from there, the sound just develop, and everything was smooth."
  • The song's music video features Grace Jones wearing a mask for the first time. It was filmed in one take without any cuts.

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