The Man Who Sold the World

Lulu, David Bowie

About The Man Who Sold the World

"The Man Who Sold the World" is a song written and performed by David Bowie. The title track of Bowie's third album, it was released in the U. S. in November 1970 and in the UK in April 1971. The song has been covered by a number of other artists, notably by Lulu, who had a UK No. 3 hit with her version in 1974; by Nirvana, whose 1993 performance of the song for the television program MTV Unplugged introduced it to a new audience; and by Midge Ure, whose 1982 cover of the song was featured in the 2015 video game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The song was reworked by Bowie, featuring atmospheric synths, a new bassline, techno-style drums and a notably darker mood, for performances in concerts from 1995 to 1997, including the 1995 MTV Europe Music Awards. Bowie later returned to playing the original version in the 2000s.  


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We passed upon the stair, we spoke of was and when
Although I wasn't there, he said I was his friend
Which came as some surprise I spoke into his eyes
I thought you died alone, a long long time ago

Oh no, not me
I never lost control
You're face to face
With The Man Who Sold The World

I laughed and shook his hand, and made my way back home
I searched for form and land, for years and years I roamed
I gazed a gazely stare at all the millions here
We must have died along, a long long time ago

Who knows? Not me
We never lost control
You're face to face
With the Man who Sold the World

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David Bowie

David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 - 10 January 2016), known by his stage name David Bowie ( /ˈboʊ.i/ BOH-ee), was an English musician, actor, record producer and arranger. A major figure for over four decades in the world of popular music, Bowie is widely regarded as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. He is known for his distinctive voice as well as the intellectual depth and considerable eclecticism of his work. more »

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Written by: David Bowie

Lyrics © TINTORETTO MUSIC, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

4 facts about this song

David Bowie Version
1. "The Man Who Sold the World" was the title track of David Bowie's third album released in November 1970 by Mercury Records. 2. The song is noted for its distinctive acoustic guitar opening. 3. The lyrics contain references to multiple identities which often surprised Bowie’s audience. 4. It is often interpreted as being about insanity, possibly caused by schizophrenia, dissociation, or multiple personality disorder.
Lulu Version
1. Scottish singer Lulu covered "The Man Who Sold the World" in 1974 and it reached No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart. 2. Bowie played saxophone on Lulu's version and also produced the track. 3. Bowie later commented that he was "impressed with her singing ability" and expressed regret not having her cover more of his songs.
Midge Ure Version
1. The Scottish musician, Midge Ure, covered "The Man Who Sold the World" in 1982. 2. Ure's version was a UK top 40 hit, reaching No. 35 in the charts. 3. His synth-pop version differed greatly from the original and other covers, offering a new rendition of the classic.
Nirvana Version
1. American rock band Nirvana covered "The Man Who Sold the World" for their MTV Unplugged session in 1993. 2. This version introduced the song to a new generation, many of whom were unaware it was a Bowie song. 3. The MTV Unplugged version was so popular that it ultimately was released as a single in 1995. 4. Its haunting rendition was well-received, with people noting Kurt Cobain's emotional delivery of the song. 5. The iconic acoustic guitar that Kurt Cobain played during this performance was sold at auction for a record-breaking $6 million.

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