David Bowie – The Jean Genie

I love the rawness of this song and performance. I’m convinced there is no style that Bowie could not do.

The two main influences for this song were said to be Iggy Pop and Cyrinda Foxe. Many of the lyrics reflect Iggy Pop’s lifestyle and stage antics. Cyrinda Foxe was an actress who starred in commercials for Jean Genie jeans. Legend has it that Bowie wrote this in Foxe’s apartment in an effort to entertain her. Foxe would go on to appear in the song’s official video alongside Bowie.

Foxe has a sad ending. She married Steven Tyler and they had a child. They had a bitter divorce and she released a tell-all book on Tyler. She developed brain cancer and died in 2000.

This song was released in 1972 and peaked at #71 in the Billboard 100, #2 in the UK and #75 in Canada.

 

From Songfacts.

On the Santa Monica ’72 live album, Bowie says that this is about a “a New York lady and a guy who lives in New York and he’s called The Jean Genie” (referring to the rebellious French writer Jean Genet).

David Bowie added in his 2005 book Moonage Daydream: “Starting out as a lightweight riff thing I had written one evening in NY for Cyrinda’s enjoyment, I developed the lyric to the otherwise wordless pumper and it ultimately turned into a bit of a smorgasbord of imagined Americana … based on an Iggy-type persona. The title, of course, was a clumsy pun upon Jean Genet.”

This was one of the first tracks Bowie wrote in New York City. He loves the city and has written many of his songs there. In 2001, Bowie opened the “Concert For New York,” a tribute to the police, firemen, and rescue workers involved in the World Trade Center attacks.

In 1973, Bowie spoke to NME about this song: “I wanted to get the same sound the Stones had on their very first album on the harmonica. I didn’t get that near to it, but it had a feel that I wanted – that ’60s thing.”

The lyric, “He’s so simple minded, he can’t drive his module,” provided the inspiration for the remaining members of Johnny & The Self Abusers to become Simple Minds, who later scored a #1 US hit with “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”

In 2011, a cameraman named John Henshall found a tape of Bowie performing “The Jean Genie” live on the British music show, Top of the Pops, in 1973 – a performance that had thought to have been erased. In December 2011, the performance aired for the first time since January 1973. You can watch the footage – which was filmed using Telefex Fisheye lenses which Henshall himself designed.

 

The Jean Genie

A small Jean Genie snuck off to the city
Strung out on lasers and slash-back blazers
Ate all your razors while pulling the waiters
Talking ’bout Monroe and walking on Snow White
New York’s a go-go, and everything tastes right
Poor little Greenie, ooh-ooh

Keep her comin’
The Jean Genie lives on his back
The Jean Genie loves chimney stacks
He’s outrageous, he screams and he bawls (Jean Genie)
Jean Genie, let yourself go, whoah

Sits like a man but he smiles like a reptile
She love him, she love him but just for a short while
She’ll scratch in the sand, won’t let go his hand
He says he’s a beautician and sells you nutrition
And keeps all your dead hair for making up underwear
Poor little Greenie, ooh-ooh

The Jean Genie lives on his back
The Jean Genie loves chimney stacks
He’s outrageous, he screams and he bawls (Jean Genie)
Jean Genie, let yourself go, whoah

He’s so simple-minded, he can’t drive his module
He bites on the neon and sleeps in a capsule
Loves to be loved, loves to be loved

Oh, Jean Genie lives on his back
The Jean Genie loves chimney stacks
He’s outrageous, he screams and he bawls (Jean Genie)
Jean Genie, let yourself go, whoah

Go!
Go!

The Jean Genie lives on his back
The Jean Genie loves chimney stacks
He’s outrageous, he screams and he bawls (Jean Genie)
Jean Genie, let yourself go, whoah

Go, go go!

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

13 thoughts on “David Bowie – The Jean Genie”

  1. A great Bowie tune. I have always fell into the trap of thinking so many- Bowie songs- especially from the 70’s were big hits- that really weren’t- because I have heard them so often I guess.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. yeah, up until ‘Let’s Dance” he didn’t have too many really big hits… he had exceptionally loyal fans but only a medium-sized fanbase, I’d say. Sadly, as is usually the case, death has benefitted his career greatly. Like the song, really interesting story behind it by the way! thanks for sharing it

        Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s