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Unreleased David Bowie Song From 1970, ‘To Be Love,’ Available for Download

Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

A song that David Bowie cut in 1970, “To Be Love,” but never released has surfaced. The song’s writer, Ron de Strulle, who also engineered the recording, has made the song available for free as a tribute to the rock legend, who died on Jan. 10, 2016.

“To Be Love” can be streamed and downloaded over at Mind Body Network, but Huffington Post has the story. In 1970, Bowie came to Los Angeles while his manager was shopping him around to various labels. As part of the negotiations with United Artists, he wound up taking up residency in 8233 Roxbury Road in West Hollywood, where de Strulle had built a studio in the garage, and they went to work creating demos for some of the songs Bowie had written.

Together, they recorded five songs in the first session. “He was looking to create a couple of signature styles to promote to the record companies,” de Strulle said. “David brought ideas and lyrics and we cut some rough tracks. If I played a few bars on the keyboard, he could see the whole picture and he could integrate it into his own work.”

While Bowie was impressed by the vast array of effects de Strulle had in the studio, the engineer was stunned at the budding star’s musical ability. “David could pick up an instrument and play anything,” de Strulle continued. “He would say ‘I never played this instrument before,’ and then he would cut loose and play. Pure genius.”

That even extended to the drum kit. Bowie had come up with a particular rhythm and connected it to de Strulle’s song. “He said it was perfect for ‘To Be Love,’” de Strulle said. “David loved that song and wanted to do harmony. He said its simple chords and simple melodies were ‘like bringing Billie Holiday into the 1970s.’ … At RR Studios, he developed his signature heavy back beat and double bass. Ten years later, everyone would refer to David’s rhythm as new disco.”

While on that trip, Bowie signed with RCA, and his time at Roxbury Road Studios came to an end. Those days are remembered fondly by de Strulle, who noted that Bowie “taught me so much, especially about vocal harmonies for different genres. He told me not to listen to other people. He said, ‘Just rely on yourself. Don’t listen to what other people are saying. What you have is unique.’”

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