David Bowie - Young Americans - 1975


David Bowie's "Young Americans," released in 1975, marks a significant shift in the musical style of the iconic artist. This song, characterized by its blend of funk, soul, and a hint of British pop, is often regarded as a milestone in Bowie's career, signifying his chameleon-like ability to adapt and reinvent his musical persona. The track is notable for its smooth, soulful sound, a departure from the glam rock for which Bowie was previously known. Let's dive into the details of this fascinating song.


"Young Americans" was recorded in 1975 at the Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia. It was a part of David Bowie's ninth studio album, also titled "Young Americans." The song symbolized Bowie's foray into what he called "plastic soul," his take on contemporary soul and R&B music influenced heavily by American artists. The recording process was unique, with Bowie embracing a more collaborative and spontaneous approach, which was a stark contrast to his previous albums.

Musical Style and Influence

The song's style is heavily influenced by soul and R&B, with a clear nod to the Philadelphia soul sound. Bowie's vocals are smooth and delivered with a distinct rhythmical pattern, adding a unique texture to the song. The saxophone plays a prominent role, contributing to the track's soulful vibe. Background vocals were provided by a young Luther Vandross, who later became a renowned R&B artist himself.

Lyrics and Themes

Lyrically, "Young Americans" is a complex tapestry, weaving themes of identity, youth, and the American cultural landscape of the 1970s. Bowie's lyrics often touch upon the disillusionment and confusion faced by the younger generation, set against the backdrop of American politics and societal changes. The song's chorus, with its repetitive questioning "Ain't there one damn song that can make me break down and cry?", reflects a sense of longing and the search for meaning in a rapidly changing world.

Reception and Legacy

Upon its release, "Young Americans" received critical acclaim and was a commercial success. It signified a pivotal point in Bowie's career, showcasing his versatility as an artist and his ability to seamlessly transition into different musical genres. The song remains a classic, often cited as an influential track that bridged rock and soul music in the 1970s.

Further Reading

  1. David Bowie's Career
  2. Soul Music in the 1970s
  3. R&B and its Evolution
  4. Transition from Glam Rock
  5. American Culture in the 1970s


Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

What studio was "Young Americans" recorded in? (Sigma Sound Studios) (!Abbey Road Studios) (!Electric Lady Studios) (!Sunset Sound Recorders)

Which genre does David Bowie describe "Young Americans" as? (Plastic soul) (!Psychedelic rock) (!Progressive rock) (!Glam rock)

What year was "Young Americans" released? (1975) (!1972) (!1977) (!1980)

Who provided background vocals for "Young Americans"? (Luther Vandross) (!Stevie Wonder) (!Marvin Gaye) (!David Sanborn)

What is a prominent instrument in "Young Americans"? (Saxophone) (!Guitar) (!Piano) (!Drums)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

What was David Bowie's real name? (David Robert Jones) (!David Edward Smith) (!Robert David Wilson) (!Edward Robert Bowie)

In which city was David Bowie born? (London) (!New York) (!Los Angeles) (!Berlin)

Which of these personas is associated with David Bowie? (Ziggy Stardust) (!The Thin White Duke) (!Aladdin Sane) (!Major Tom)

Which other genre was David Bowie known for before "Young Americans"? (Glam rock) (!Jazz) (!Blues) (!Country)

In which decade did David Bowie start his music career? (1960s) (!1950s) (!1970s) (!1980s)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

What do the lyrics of "Young Americans" predominantly explore? (Youth and American culture) (!Space and science fiction) (!Love and relationships) (!War and peace)

Which of the following lines is from "Young Americans"? ("Ain't there one damn song that can make me break down and cry?") (!"Ground Control to Major Tom") (!"There's a starman waiting in the sky") (!"Let's dance, put on your red shoes and dance the blues")

The song's chorus includes a repeated question. What is it? ("Ain't there one damn song that can make me break down and cry?") (!"Do you remember a guy that's been in such an early song?") (!"Can you hear me, Major Tom?") (!"Is there life on Mars?")

Which theme is NOT directly addressed in "Young Americans"? (Space exploration) (!Disillusionment of youth) (!American politics) (!Search for meaning)

How does Bowie describe the soul genre in "Young Americans"? (Plastic soul) (!Pure soul) (!Deep soul) (!Retro soul)


Sigma Sound Studios Place where "Young Americans" was recorded
1975 Year "Young Americans" was released
Luther Vandross Provided background vocals for the song
Saxophone Prominent instrument in "Young Americans"
Plastic soul Genre David Bowie described "Young Americans" as

Open Tasks


  1. Explore different genres: Listen to other songs by David Bowie and compare their genres to "Young Americans".
  2. Create a Playlist: Make a playlist of songs from the 1970s that share a similar style to "Young Americans".
  3. Research American Culture in the 1970s: Write a short essay on how the 1970s American culture influenced music.


  1. Analyze Lyrics: Analyze the lyrics of "Young Americans" and discuss its themes in a 500-word essay.
  2. Music and Identity: Create a presentation on how David Bowie's changing musical styles reflect his artistic identity.
  3. Soul Music Study: Research the history of soul music and how it influenced artists in the 1970s.


  1. Song Composition: Compose your own song inspired by the musical style of "Young Americans".
  2. Interview Project: Interview people who were teenagers in the 1970s about their memories of "Young Americans".
  3. Critical Analysis: Write a detailed critical analysis comparing "Young Americans" to another David Bowie album from a different era.

Text bearbeiten Bild einfügen Video einbetten Interaktive Aufgaben erstellen

Oral Exam

  1. Impact of 'Young Americans' Describe how "Young Americans" represented a shift in David Bowie's musical style and its impact on his career.
  2. Music and Social Commentary Discuss how music can be used as a form of social commentary, using "Young Americans" as an example.
  3. Evolution of Music Genres Explain how genres like soul and R&B have evolved over the decades, using "Young Americans" as a reference point.
  4. Influence of Cultural Context Analyze how the cultural context of the 1970s influenced the themes and style of "Young Americans".
  5. Artist Identity Discuss the concept of artist identity in music, using David Bowie's career as an example.

OERs on the Topic


Share - Discuss - Rate


Text bearbeiten Bild einfügen Video einbetten Interaktive Aufgaben erstellen

Teilen Facebook Twitter Google Mail an MOOCit Missbrauch melden Zertifikat beantragen

(0 Stimmen)