Play It Safe

Album: Soldier (1980)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • David Bowie and Iggy Pop were working on a song at Rockfield Studios in Wales that needed a football terrace chorus. Bowie asked the then little-known Simple Minds, who were working in an adjoining studio, if they'd care to help out. Bowie handed out some beer and arranged the Scottish rockers around a microphone. Their big line was the refrain - "I wanna be a criminal, play it safe" - though not before Iggy had paid tribute to his new pals in the preceding verse: "You're too simple minded…"

    "It was fairly easy to song," recalled their lead singer Jim Kerr to Mojo April 2012. "In his diplomatic way, Bowie said, 'Why don't the people who sing professionally step nearer the microphone, and those who don't step well back? That's how I came to find myself sandwiched between David Bowie and Iggy Pop, singing that song. Astonishing."
  • So, what kind of hell and unrest went down with Iggy Pop, David Bowie and Simple Minds when they recorded this song? Not as much as you might think. In a Songfacts interview with Jim Kerr, he said: "In the Welsh countryside there's not a lot of stuff you can get up to. But there was plenty of cans of beer. And at the end of the night, everyone had the munchies. I remember David Bowie eating a lot of cheese and thinking, I didn't think David Bowie would be a cheese-eating guy. I don't know why I thought that. But he was enjoying himself."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Holly Knight ("The Best," "Love Is A Battlefield")

Holly Knight ("The Best," "Love Is A Battlefield")Songwriter Interviews

Holly Knight talks about some of the hit songs she wrote, including "The Warrior," "Never" and "The Best," and explains some songwriting philosophy, including how to think of a bridge.

Trucking Songs That Were #1 Hits

Trucking Songs That Were #1 HitsSong Writing

The stories behind the biggest hit songs about trucking.

John Waite

John WaiteSongwriter Interviews

"Missing You" was a spontaneous outpouring of emotion triggered by a phone call. John tells that story and explains what MTV meant to his career.

Strange Magnetics

Strange MagneticsSong Writing

How Bing Crosby, Les Paul, a US Army Signal Corps Officer, and the Nazis helped shape rock and Roll.

Spooner Oldham

Spooner OldhamSongwriter Interviews

His keyboard work helped define the Muscle Shoals sound and make him an integral part of many Neil Young recordings. Spooner is also an accomplished songwriter, whose hits include "I'm Your Puppet" and "Cry Like A Baby."

Philip Cody

Philip CodySongwriter Interviews

A talented lyricist, Philip helped revive Neil Sedaka's career with the words to "Laughter In The Rain" and "Bad Blood."