Nirvana - The Man Who Sold The World

About "The Man Who Sold The World"

"The Man Who Sold the World" is a song by the English singer-songwriter David Bowie. The title track of Bowie's third studio album, it was released in November 1970 in the US and in April 1971 in the UK by Mercury Records. Produced by Tony Visconti, it was recorded at Trident and Advision Studios in London in May 1970, towards the end of the album's sessions; Bowie recorded his vocal on the final day of mixing for the album, reflecting his generally dismissive attitude during the sessions. Musically, it is based around a "circular" guitar riff from Mick Ronson. Its lyrics are cryptic and evocative, being inspired by numerous poems including the 1899 "Antigonish" by William Hughes Mearns. Bowie's vocals are heavily "phased" throughout and have been described as "haunting".

"The Man Who Sold the World" went relatively unnoticed upon initial release in 1970. It was not released as a single by Bowie, though appeared as a B-side on the 1973 reissues of "Space Oddity" in the US and "Life on Mars?" in the UK by RCA Records. It was not until it was covered by the Scottish singer Lulu, whose 1974 recording, produced by Bowie and Ronson, peaked at No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart, that the song gained mainstream attention. In subsequent decades, the song has been covered by Scottish musician Midge Ure in 1982, and the American rock band Nirvana in 1993, whose performance of the song for the television programme MTV Unplugged introduced it to a new audience.

Retrospectively, Bowie's original recording has been named one of his best songs, with reviewers praising its haunting and unsettling atmosphere. Bowie performed the track live later in his career in different renditions than the original, including in a darker style during 1995's Outside Tour; a studio recording of the tour's arrangement appeared as a B-side of "Strangers When We Meet" in 1995. He again rerecorded the song in an acoustic arrangement in 1996 for the documentary ChangesNowBowie; this version was released in 2020 on the digital version of the EP Is It Any Wonder? and on the album ChangesNowBowie. The original recording has appeared on multiple compilation albums and has been remastered multiple times, including in 2015 as part of the box set Five Years (1969–1973).

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