Ghosts

Album: Intensive Care (2005)
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Songfacts®:

  • Robbie Williams revealed on his website that "Ghosts" was inspired by the song "Louise" by the British electronic-pop outfit The Human League. "Louise" tells the story of a man who sees a former lover at a bus stop and realizes he still has feelings for her. "It's one of my all-time favorite tracks," said Williams. "I liked the idea of writing from Louise's point of view." Williams later covered "Louise" for his seventh album, Rudebox.
  • This song appears to pay tribute to All Saints member Nicole Appleton, who was briefly engaged to Williams in the late '90s. The clue comes in the form of the line: "On the radio, she was that summer song." All Saints had a string of big hits in the UK, including the song "Pure Shores." Written for the Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach, it dominated the airwaves throughout the summer of 2000. Following her split from Williams, Appleton went on to marry Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher.
  • Before performing this song at a gig at The Roundhouse in London in October 2019, Williams explained that the infamous opening lyric was "written" by his bodyguard Duncan "Pompey" Wilkinson. While listening to "Majesty" by the Norwegian band Madrugada, Wilkinson misheard a line as, "Here I stand victorious, the only man who made you come." Williams liked this mondegreen so much, he decided to put it in his own song.
  • Fans have debated the identity of "Josephine," referenced in the lyric:

    Josephine, I follow your star tonight
    If not tonight then when will she say
    We're not ghosts


    This is highly likely a reference to the Napoleon quote, "Not tonight, Joséphine." It's rumored Napoleon said this to his first wife, Empress Joséphine, to turn down sex. Nowadays, the phrase is often used as a humorous spurn.
  • Williams wrote this song with Stephen Duffy after splitting with his long-term collaborator, Guy Chambers. Duffy was a founding member of Duran Duran but left before the British synth-pop band found success with "Girls On Film" in July 1981. He later founded the critically acclaimed folk outfit The Lilac Time prior to working with Williams on Intensive Care. Speaking about his time spent writing with Williams, Duffy said: "When you work with someone as big as Rob the music can be seen as secondary to the whole hoopla, but I'm very proud of that album – we came up with some absolutely bonkers songs and it went to #1."
  • This is the opening song on Williams' sixth album, Intensive Care, which was released in October 2005. The album spawned three singles: "Tripping"/"Make Me Pure," "Advertising Space," and "Sin Sin Sin." According to Williams' record label EMI, Intensive Care has sold 6.2 million copies worldwide.

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