"Never Let Me Down" is the title track on David Bowie's album Never Let Me Down. It was issued as the third single from the album in August 1987, and would be Bowie's last solo single until 1992's "Real Cool World", barring a remix of "Fame" (1990). The least successful single from the album, it failed to enter the top 10 singles chart in any country in the world (its highest placement was number 15 in the US).

Bowie performed the song on BBC's Top of the Pops on 16 September 1987, and it was aired on the first broadcast of the American version of the show.[1]


 [hide*1 Song development

Song development[edit]Edit

Bowie described the song as a "pivotal" track for himself, calling it the most personal song he'd written for an album to that point in his career.[2] The song is about Bowie's long-time personal assistant, Coco Schwab. Bowie described their relationship, saying:

It's platonic. But there is a romance in it, I guess, inasmuch as it's hard for two people to feel totally at ease in each other's company for that period of time and not expect too much from each other. Always being prepared to be there if the other one needs someone, you know? There's not many people you find in life that you can do that with, or feel that way with.[3]

Bowie had started with his own chord structure for the song but wasn't happy with it, calling it "ponderous and funereal." Long-time collaborator and co-song writer Carlos Alomar reworked the chords for the song into the final version,[2] which was recorded in one day during the last week of mixing the album at New York's Power Station studios in early 1987.[4]

Music video[edit]Edit

Bowie put the video in the hands of French director Jean-Baptiste Mondino. Of the video, Bowie said it's "an experiment; I'm really putting myself in his [Jean-Baptiste's] hands. ... I think if I did it [the video myself], it would be very abrasive, and I’m not quite sure if that's how I want the song to come off visually. In concert it will be abrasive; it won’t have the sane quality as the video. But I really think Mondino is a fantastic video maker. He just knows that this is his genre. He’s like a craftsman and that’s what he’s trying to perfect, this craft of making his five minutes work."[4]

The video, described as a dream-like portrayal of a 1950s-style dance marathon, was described positively by one critic as "creative and engaging."[5] A review in the Los Angeles Times scores the video "excellent (85/100)"[6] and the newspaper later rated the video one of the Top 10 of 1987.[7]

The 7" picture disc cover shot is a still from the music video.

Track listing[edit]Edit

  • "Never Let Me Down" written by Bowie/Alomar, "'87 and Cry" written by Bowie
  • Some releases refer to a "'87 and Cry (Single Version)" while others refer to "'87 and Cry (Edit)"; these are the same version

7": EMI America / EA 239 / EAP 239 (UK)[edit]Edit

  1. "Never Let Me Down (Single Version)" – 3:58
  2. "'87 and Cry (Single Version)" – 3:53

MC: EMI America / TCEA 239 (UK)[edit]Edit

  1. "Never Let Me Down (Single Version)" – 3:58
  2. "Day-In Day-Out (Groucho Mix)" - 6:28
  3. "Time Will Crawl (Extended Dance Mix)" - 6:00
  4. "'87 and Cry (Edit)" – 3:53

12": EMI America / 12EA 239 (UK)[edit]Edit

  1. "Never Let Me Down (Extended Dance Mix)" – 7:00
  2. "'87 and Cry (Edit)" - 4:18
  3. "Never Let Me Down (Dub)" – 3:55
  4. "Never Let Me Down (A Cappella)" – 2:03
  • "'87 and Cry" was deleted from the 12" in some territories.

12": EMI / V-19255 (US)[edit]Edit

  1. "Never Let Me Down (Extended Dance Remix)" – 7:00
  2. "Never Let Me Down (7" Remix Edit)" - 3:58
  3. "Never Let Me Down (Dub)" - 3:55
  4. "Never Let Me Down (A Capella)" - 2:03
  5. "Never Let Me Down (Instrumental)" - 4:00
  6. "'87 and Cry (Edit)" - 3:53

CD: Toshiba-EMI / CP20-5520 (Japan)[edit]Edit

  1. "Never Let Me Down (Extended Dance mix)" - 7:01
  2. "Never Let Me Down (7" remix)" - 3:58
  3. "Never Let Me Down (Dub)" - 3:55
  4. "Never Let Me Down (A Cappella)" - 2:03
  5. "Never Let Me Down (Instrumental)" - 4:00
  6. "'87 and Cry (Edit)" - 3:53

CD: EMI America / DPRO-31352 (US)[edit]Edit

  1. "Never Let Me Down (Edit)"
  2. "Never Let Me Down (Extended Dance Mix)" - 7:01
  3. "Never Let Me Down (Dub)" - 3:55
  4. "Never Let Me Down (A Cappella)" - 2:03
  5. "Never Let Me Down (Instrumental)" - 4:03
  6. "Never Let Me Down (LP version)"
  • Promo CD

Download: EMI / iEA239 (UK)[edit]Edit

  1. "Never Let Me Down (Single Version)" – 3:58
  2. "'87 and Cry (Edit)" – 3:53
  3. "Never Let Me Down (Extended Dance mix)" - 6:11
  4. "Never Let Me Down (Dub / A Cappella)" - 5:57
  5. "Shining Star (12" Mix)" - 6:27
  • released 2007

Production credits[edit]Edit

Other releases and appearances[edit]Edit

Cover versions[edit]Edit

  • Birth Marc - Ashes to Ashes: A Tribute to David Bowie (1998)

Chart positions[edit]Edit

Chart Peak position
Canada Singles Chart 37[8]
Holland Singles Chart 70[9]
US Mainstream Rock Tracks 15[10]
US Hot Dance Music/Club Play 17[10]
US Billboard Hot 100 27[10]
UK Singles Chart 34[11]
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.