Lust For Life

Album: Lust For Life (1977)
Charted: 26

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about Iggy Pop's lifestyle as a hard-living heroin addict. The title is taken from the 1956 film of the same name, which itself is an adaptation of Irving Stone's 1934 biographical novel about the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh.
  • The song makes several references to Johnny Yen, a character in American writer William S. Burroughs' 1962 novel The Ticket That Exploded. References to the novel also account for the lyrical preoccupation with stripteases, drugs, and hypnotizing chickens.
  • David Bowie co-wrote this song with Iggy Pop, with Bowie composing the music on a ukulele. Musically, it was inspired by the opening to the American Forces Network News, which the pair listened to in Berlin. Iggy recalled to Q magazine April 2013: "Once a week the Armed Forces Network would play Starsky & Hutch and that was our little ritual. AFN would broadcast an ID when they came on the air, a representation of a radio tower, and it made a signal sound, 'beep-beep-beep, beep-beep-ba-beep.' And we went, 'Aha we'll take that!'. David grabbed his ukulele, worked out the chords, and away we went."
  • Belying the drug references in this song, Iggy Pop was trying to get clean around this time, as was David Bowie - for both it was a relatively sober time in their lives. Pop still played up the image of a combustible addict, not only in his lyrics, but in his stage antics (although he cut his hair short around this time because that's what he thought "straight people" did). Being (somewhat) clean gave him the freedom to act out as if he wasn't, which he did on "Lust For Life."
  • The song was re-released as a single in 1996, featuring on the soundtrack for the British film Trainspotting (where drug abuse was a central theme). While the song didn't chart when it was first released, this reissue reached #26 in the UK. This success might explain the subsequent release in 1998 of "The Passenger," another song from the same album, which made #22 UK.

    A remix of the song by The Prodigy led off the soundtrack for the movie's sequel, T2 Trainspotting, which was released 20 years later.
  • Because of its chorus that can be interpreted as a message to live life to its fullest, this song is often used in commercials, including one for Royal Caribbean Cruises where the advertisement jumps from the opening line "Here comes Johnny Yen again" straight to the chorus "Lust for life," conveniently omitting all the interim references to liquor, drugs, "flesh machines," and stripteases. The campaign began in 2001 and ran for nearly a decade, befuddling fans who marveled at the incongruity, but effectively marketing the product, as Royal Caribbean was reaching out to a younger demographic and positioning their cruises as more of an adventure and less about the shuffleboard and buffets.

    Most viewers didn't make the heroin association, but that's true of the song in general, as the rousing chorus is what cuts through. And while some of Pop's fans were outraged, he loved it. Pop controlled the rights to his performance of the song, which is what Royal Caribbean used, but couldn't stop companies from using re-recorded versions which often appeared without his approval. With this campaign, he got paid, and not eager to bite the hand, said, "I actually enjoyed Royal Caribbean's usage. And to me, it's just great that it's out there in any form for someone to hear."
  • According to Iggy Pop, it was Bowie who came up with the title, which Pop didn't know was a reference to the film Lust For Life.
  • This is one of Iggy Pop's most popular songs; the vocal doesn't come in until 1:12, but the catchy chorus and driving beat give it plenty of pop appeal.
  • Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Pop explained how the song came together with David Bowie. "We were sitting around his digs on the floor, because it was a no-chairs kind of place. We had a production contract and a schedule and he had to get it out of the way, so he said, 'Let's get a song here.' He picked up a little ukulele he had - I think it might have been his son's - and just came up with that progression, which I thought was great."
  • The line "I've had it in the ear before" is an expression meaning you've been screwed over. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • The Lust For Life album was the second of two that David Bowie worked on with Iggy Pop, following The Idiot. They played up Pop as a character who was a savant like Fyodor Dostoevsky and a tortured genius like Vincent van Gogh.
  • The recognizable drum and guitar riffs are notably replicated in the Australian garage rock band Jet's 2003 single "Are You Gonna Be My Girl." The similarities were subject to media scrutiny, though both bands have admitted that the primary inspiration for their tracks were Motown hits, such as The Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love" and Martha & the Vandellas' "I'm Ready for Love."
  • In addition to Trainspotting, this song was used in the following movies:

    Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
    Basquiat (1996)
    A Guy Thing (2003)
    Rugrats Go Wild (2003)
    Just Like Heaven (2005)
    Elle (2016)

    It also appeared in the 2003 episode of The Simpsons "The Regina Monologues," and the 2007 episode of Chuck, "Chuck Versus the Helicopter."
  • The Welsh singer Tom Jones covered the song for his 1999 covers album Reload.
  • This is the opening theme to the syndicated sports talk program The Jim Rome Show, which has been on the air since 1996. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Glenn - Bandera, TX

Comments: 11

  • Homo Beatlecus from UkTravis sampled the drums for their song Selfish Jean.
  • Chris from South Surrey, BcQuite possibly the ultimate, never-gets-tired song.
  • Rick from Brooklyn, Ny, Ny"I've had it in the ear before" is a reference to the fact that Van Gogh supposedly cut off his ear as a tribute to a prostitute. There's also a story that it got cut off in a sword fight with the artist Paul Gaugin during said fight.
  • Joel from Columbia, ScI liked this song only because it was in Danny Boyle's Trainspotting. Interesting side note there is a movie that starred Kirk Douglas as Vincent VanGogh called Lust For Life.
  • Hannah from Hampshire, England, United KingdomSuch an exhilarating song! And, yes, it was Jet that did 'Are you gonna be my girl'.
  • Madison from Norway, MeI think that song "Are you gonna be my girl" sounds a lot like this song...Who sings that? Jet?
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI think this song was used in the Simpson's episode in which The Simpsons go to England.
  • Lyndon from Cork, IrelandBowie helped produce two of Iggy's albums in the late 70's - Lust For Life and the Idiot.
    China Girl appears on the Idiot album by Pop and then on Lets Dance by Bowie in 1983
  • Alwari from Porvoo, FinlandCovered by Mötley Crüe on their "3 Titres Raves France Promo 5" Single" from 1997.
  • Jeffrey from Dowagiac, MiThis was a fantastic song to be used in "Trainspotting". Iggy could have been a consultant for the movie.
  • Dylan from Perth, AustraliaAlot of people dont know that Iggy was David Bowies hero, and Bowie actually help with the production of the song.
see more comments

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