David Bowie Producer Tony Visconti Recalls the Meeting That Killed Bowie’s Springsteen Cover
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It’s well-known among David Bowie fans that a cover of Bruce Springsteen‘s “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City” was among the tracks initially intended for Bowie’s 1975 Young Americans LP. In a new interview, producer Tony Visconti pinpoints a meeting between the two performers as the moment when Bowie abruptly abandoned plans.
“David was quite taken by meeting Bruce,” Visconti recalled in a feature published in the current issue of Uncut (via NME). “We played ‘Saint’ to him and he kept a poker face the whole time. He said nothing when it was finished. David took him into another room for a private chat. By the time Bruce left, he was more pleasant and said his goodbyes to the rest of us. David and I never worked on ‘Saint’ after that, although it was finished or re-recorded eventually with someone else.”
Visconti’s impression of the meeting confirms Bowie’s own version of events. “He was very shy,” he wrote years later. “I remember sitting in the corridor with him, talking about his lifestyle, which was a very Dylanesque — you know, moving from town to town with a guitar on his back, all that kind of thing. Anyway, he didn’t like what we were doing, I remember that. At least, he didn’t express much enthusiasm. I guess he must have thought it was all kind of odd. I was in another universe at the time. I’ve got this extraordinarily strange photograph of us all — I look like I’m made out of wax.”
Bowie’s cover of “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City,” which you can hear above, ultimately saw release as part of his Sound + Vision box. Springsteen returned the favor earlier this year, covering “Rebel Rebel” in concert as an act of tribute after Bowie’s death.
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