The ZIGGY STARDUST Companion

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John, I'm Only Dancing  

Bonus track on
Rykodisc/EMI releases (1990 & 1994) & EMI (2002)

Albums:  The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars (1972) (Rykodisc bonus track), The Best of David Bowie 1969/1974 (1997)

Singles: John, I'm Only Dancing

Background

John, I'm Only Dancing was recorded at London's Trident Studios in June 1972 and released as the follow-up single to Starman in September 1972, two months after the Ziggy album was released. RCA considered it too daring for the US market and it remained unreleased there until the ChangesOneBowie (1976) album. 

It was performed live on the 1st and 2nd US Ziggy Stardust Tours, the 2nd UK Tour and the Japanese Tour after which it was dropped. It was later performed on the 1990 Sound + Vision Tour.

The promotional video JOHN, I'M ONLY DANCING was filmed by Mick Rock (his first for Bowie) during the afternoon rehearsal for the Rainbow Theatre concert on 19 August 1972.

There are a number of versions and the track on the 1990 CD re-issue is #5 below. In chronological order, the versions are as follows:

  1. The original single - "John, I'm Only Dancing/Hang Onto Yourself" (RCA 2263 - 1 September 1972) recorded in June 1972 at Trident Studios.
  2. A live version from the US Ziggy Stardust concert at the Boston Music Hall on the 1st October 1972 which can found on the CD video SOUND + VISION PLUS (1989).
  3. The "sax mix" version - "John, I'm Only Dancing/Hang Onto Yourself" (RCA 2263 - 14 April 1973) recorded in January 1973 at Trident Studios for possible inclusion on the Aladdin Sane (1973) album (but not used) and generally regarded as the best version of this song. While this version has the exact same catalogue number as #1 above, it is a totally different song - featuring tighter guitar and the inclusion of saxophone by Ken Fordham.  It was later mistakenly included in the first 1,000 copies of the LP ChangesOneBowie (1976) before the original single replaced it as intended.
  4. A studio disco version called "John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)" was recorded during the YOUNG AMERICANS (1975) sessions.
  5. A 1979 remix of the original 1 September 1972 single was made which is four seconds longer and in which the echo on Bowie's vocal was reduced resulting in it being placed higher in the mix. It was released by RCA as the A-side on "John, I'm Only Dancing/John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)" (RCA BOW 4 - December 1979) and as noted included as a bonus track on the 1990 Rykodisc CD re-issue.

In 1981 the Polecats released a version which became a minor UK hit.

Review

David Bowie: "John, I'm Only Dancing" (RCA)
What's going on over there? "That's Morris dancing" Yes, I am getting rather worried about Morris." And we're getting a bit worried about David.  What is the poor chap on about now?  He is a great song writer, a fine singer, and one of nature's gentlemen.  But this somewhat strangled vocal style sounds a bit of a put on. Over to Rachael Hartesbeeste for a fans eye view: "Nobody expects YOU to understand.  This is a MARVELOUS song from David, with a terrific boogie shuffle beat.  And the echo on his voice shows sheer mastery of production." Quite so, I merely said that... "Well don't.  This will be a massive hit, and I won't hear a word of criticism." Oh, very well.  Yes the guitar is quite good.  John, I'm Only Dancing la la la. I am already beginning to enjoy it already. - Melody Maker   - 2 September, 1972

 

John, I'm Only Dancing (Bowie)

Well, Annie's pretty neat, she always eats her meat
Joe is awful strong, bet your life he's putting us on
Hello there, hello there, you know I need some loving
I'm moving, touch me

John, I'm only dancing
She turns me on, but I'm only dancing
She turns me on, don't get me wrong
I'm only dancing

Oh shadow love was quick and clean, life's a well-thumbed machine
I saw you watching from the stairs, you're everyone that ever cared
Hello there, hello there, you know I need some loving
I'm moving, touch me

John, I'm only dancing
She turns me on, but I'm only dancing
She turns me on, but don't get me wrong
I'm only dancing

John, I'm only dancing
She turns me on, but I'm only dancing
She turns me on, but don't get me wrong
I'm only dancing

Dancing, won't someone dance with me?
Touch me, Ohhh!

 

---This page last modified: 28 Jun 2002---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)