David Bowie – Modern Love

This was my favorite song off of the Lets Dance album released in 1983.

Stevie Ray Vaughan played guitar on this song. Bowie asked him to play on the Let’s Dance album after seeing him perform at a music festival.

David Bowie and Nile Rodgers wrote this song.  Modern Love peaked at #14 in the Billboard 100, #2 in Canada, #2 in the UK, and #6 in New Zealand in 1983. The album was also produced by Bowie and Rodgers.

Nile Rodgers said that Bowie came into his apartment one day and showed him a photograph of Little Richard in a red suit getting into a bright red Cadillac, saying “Nile, darling, that’s what I want my album to sound like.”

How cool is that?

From Songfacts

This is about the struggle to find solace in love and religion. It has also been suggested this song contemplates the old adage “The more things change the more they stay the same.” Explaining how he remained a force in pop music for so many years, Bowie sings, “It’s not really work it’s just a power to charm.” 

Bowie said this song’s call-and-response vocal arrangement “all comes from Little Richard.” A defining moment in Bowie’s childhood was when his dad came home with a copy of “Tutti Frutti.”

This sounds very similar to Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing.” They were both recorded around the same time and Bowie nor John were aware of each other’s song.

In 1987, Bowie re-recorded this with Tina Turner for a Pepsi commercial where he plays a scientist who creates the perfect woman (Turner), with a little help from Pepsi. The storyline is cribbed from the 1985 movie Weird Science.

Modern Love

I know when to go out 
Know when to stay in 
Get things done 

I catch a paper boy
But things don’t really change
I’m standing in the wind
But I never wave bye-bye
But I try, I try
There’s no sign of life
It’s just the power to charm
I’m lying in the rain
But I never wave bye-bye
But I try, I try
Never gonna fall for

(Modern love) walks beside me
(Modern love) walks on by
(Modern love) gets me to the church on time
(Church on time) terrifies me
(Church on time) makes me party
(Church on time) puts my trust in God and man
(God and man) no confession
(God and man) no religion
(God and man) don’t believe in modern love

It’s not really work
It’s just the power to charm
I’m still standing in the wind
But I never wave bye bye
But I try, I try
Never gonna fall for

(Modern love) walks beside me
(Modern love) walks on by
(Modern love) gets me to the church on time
(Church on time) terrifies me
(Church on time) makes me party
(Church on time) puts my trust in God and man
(God and man) no confession
(God and man) no religion
(God and man) I don’t believe in modern love

Modern love (modern love) 
Modern love (modern love) 
Modern love (modern love) 
Modern love (modern love) 
Modern love (modern love) 
Modern love (modern love) 
Modern love (modern love) 
Modern love (modern love) 
(Modern love) 
(Modern love) 
(Modern love) 
(Modern love)
Modern love, walks beside me 
(Modern love) 
Modern love, walks on by 
(Modern love)
Modern love, walks beside me 
Modern love
Modern love, walks on by
Modern love
Never gonna fall for
Modern love
Modern love

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

59 thoughts on “David Bowie – Modern Love”

    1. Yes I am thank you…I live in a county beside Davidson County which holds Nashville.
      I was on my way to work this morning knowing nothing…I get a call from the Mother In Law telling me what happened. I just got to work because of traffic.
      It hit around 2-3 miles from where I work. Everything here is ok though.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you again. I’m just finding out. There are 40,000 people without power around where I am now. I’m just now looking at the news.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. You are completely right. I was going to do Let’s Dance…I’m an idiot…I couldn’t decide which one to do…damn it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think I felt the indecision — I brought up let’s dance in apple music first because of the solo, then checked your post again and switched to modern love…thinking hmmmm, I can’t remember much of a guitar solo on this one lol

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Not at all. Yep that is the only thing that I started…about Stevie and that was it thankfully. That is what I get for doing a post at midnight.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Usually around 20-30 minutes…depends on if it’s a rare song…when you see a hit song like this one…I needed to get it finished lol.
        I still can’t believe I did that…but sometimes I do two at once and save the other for a future date.

        Like

      5. I really enjoy the Star Trek things…not Star Trek but different items. It’s fun venturing out of music. I didn’t start with just music everyday…but it’s too hard to come up with a pop culture item a day.
        I like your blog because you never know what is going to be there…I like the unexpected.

        Like

      6. Dude… Stevie DID play guitar on this song. I went to a few more places and all said Stevie.

        David Bowie – vocals
        Stevie Ray Vaughan – guitar[6]
        Nile Rodgers – guitar
        Carmine Rojas – bass guitar
        Omar Hakim – drums[24]
        Robert Sabino – keyboards; piano[5]
        Robert Aaron – saxophone
        Stan Harrison – saxophone
        Steve Elson – saxophone
        Sam Figueroa – percussion

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Yep absolutely SRV. Just listening is enough. I just always thought it was Pete frampton. You know I can’t quite imagine srv and Bowie in the same room — they seem like they were from different galaxies

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Two different worlds and philosophies… Bowie though looked past that and got one of the best. At that time…it had to be a big break for SRV.

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      9. I’ve seen that Austin City Limits video of him…my jaw dropped with his guitar playing. Aggressive as hell but precise.

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      10. YES on Modern love lol…it wasn’t much but he is listed.
        Man you talked me out of it. I changed it and then someone said…hey I read where it was SRV…I checked again…and sure enough it was him. No solo or anything but him.

        Like

      11. Yes you got me thinking that…there wasn’t one on here. His playing was pretty much wasted…being him and all.

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      12. I corrected it…Thanks Jeremy. I was stuck between the two and working on both of them…bad choice!

        Like

      13. I just checked a few more places…not a solo but guitar on the song…and much of the Let’s Dance album. I thought I got it confused but I didn’t

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      1. You pinpointed the reason I didn’t like some of the music I grew up with in the 80s…They loved production in the 80s

        Like

  1. I read that Stevie Ray Vaughan played guitar on the song. Bowie starts out saying not singing the first three lines of this song. I think he is saying that it is good to party, but if you need to get things done, it is better to stay home. He likes to keep up with current events (catch a paper boy), but it seems like “things don’t really change”. Things are tough “I’m standing in the wind”, however he doesn’t quit “But I never wave bye-bye”. His life seems empty, “There’s no sign of life”, although he is not upset by this as he sees that, “It’s just the power to charm”. He is “lying in the rain”, but he is still going to try and he is “Never gonna fall for” Modern Love.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had him first but Jeremy swore it’s Peter Frampton… I was doing Let’s Dance and this one at the same time…stupid thing to do…but I was right to begin with. Thanks Jim…I’ll change it back to what I had

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you…yes it was pretty bad. I live around 20 miles from Nashville in a place like Mayberry lol. I’m finding out more about it now…it was 2 miles from where I work.

      Like

  2. This is a brilliant song every which way. The lyrics are melancholy to me and remind me of a starving person looking longingly into the shop window of a bakery for just a morsel. It’s a brave and honest song and shines for what it doesn’t say as much as for what it does. The musical arrangement with the answering chorus is musical genius. I also love what Bowie says about him wanting to sound like the picture of Little Richard. Great choice today, Max.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great song. And… it’s weird but I thought this was on the Glass Spider tour DVD (which is great and which I have), but is seems it isn’t! What the heck am I thinking of? I must’ve been watching youtube too much!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a great video of him. I really regret never seeing him. Life On Mars is in my top 10 favorite songs ever. I always thought he would revisit Ziggy one time…but true to his nature…he never did.

      Liked by 1 person

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