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Can't Help Thinking About Me
Can't Help Thinking About Me

"Can't Help Thinking About Me" is a song written by David Bowie in 1965 and released as a single under the name David Bowie with The Lower Third and was written about his time living in Sydenham. This was the first single released after he changed his name from David (also Davie) Jones to David Bowie.

It was the first David Bowie record to be released in the US as well as the first time the name "Bowie" appeared under the songwriters credit.

The song was recorded within 15 days of the 18-year-old Bowie signing to the Pye Records label as "David Bowie with the Lower Third" on 25 November 1965 through successful producer and songwriter Tony Hatch. Hatch signed Bowie to the label based on two demos (this song and "Now You've Met The London Boys", as it was originally titled) proffered by Bowie's (then) manager Ralph Horton. The single and B-side were both recorded in the basement of Pye's offices in Great Cumberland Place (near Marble Arch, Central London) on 10 December 1965. Hatch also played piano on the single and provided backing vocals along with the rest of the group.

The single was "promo launched" by Pye on 6 January 1966 at The Gaiety Bar, Bayswater. The launch party (for Pye records staff and music journalists) was paid for by a loan from businessman Raymond Cook, an agreement which took several years to untangle and eventually pay back. Among those who attended the launch party that evening was John Lennon's father Alfred Lennon, who was also signed to the Pye label as an artist. Lennon Senior's presence was recalled as him being "highly inebriated" and asking the attendees "Do you know who I am?"

"Can't help thinking about me" was officially released on Friday 14 January (and later released in the US by Warner Bros. in May 1966), however, the Lower Third split from Bowie on 28 January over financial disagreements regarding "who was being paid what" with manager Ralph Horton. Believing Bowie was not supporting their side of the argument, Graham Rivens, Phil Lancaster and Dennis Taylor ended their short-lived collaboration and reluctantly walked away, literally weeks after their record deal with Pye Records. A strikingly similar manipulation of "divide and rule" about money between Bowie and his band by the incumbent manager (Tony DeFries) occurred 7 years later with the Spiders from Mars.

The single failed to make either the UK or the US charts despite being reasonably well received by the critics at the time.

After dropping the song from his gigs after mid 1966 (he played it several times with new band Buzz at The Marquee due to it being released in May in the USA), "Can't Help Thinking About Me" was eventually resurrected 31 years later and played live regularly in 1999, as well as on the Bowie VH1 Storytellers programme. Prior to singing it, he explained that it was "a beautiful piece of solipsism" then told the audience that the song featured two of the worst lines he felt he had ever written. "I actually have to sing this....'My girl calls my name "Hi Dave", Drop in, Come back, See you around if you're this way again...."

A key collector's item today because of its rarity, the UK vinyl release averages over £600 per copy with the UK and the US "Demonstration Only" copies achieving in excess of £1000. The single has been re-released many times (on EP's, 10" singles and compilation CD's) from 1973 onwards following Bowie's Ziggy commercial success.

Track listing

Written by David Bowie.

Production credits

  • Producer: Tony Hatch
  • Musicians: David Bowie: Vocals Dennis Taylor: Guitar Graham Rivens: Bass Phil Lancaster: Drums Tony Hatch: Piano and background vocals

Live versions

  • Bowie performed the song at VH1 Storytellers in 1999, for the first time in more than 30 years.

Other releases

  • The song was re-released by Pye in the UK as part of a 4-track E.P in September 1972. The reissue was an effort by Pye to cash in on Bowie's newfound popularity, and came in a picture sleeve with the legend "For the collector, early David Bowie". It did not make the charts.
  • Pye also released the single with a picture sleeve in Spain in September 1972, but this version had "I Dig Everything" as the B-side.
  • It also appeared on the following compilations: Don't Be Fooled by the Name "The Days of Wine and Vinyl" (1972), Warner / Reprise Sampler The Collection (1985) 1966 (1988) Introspective (1990) Early On (1964–1966) (1991) I Dig Everything EP (1999) Nothing Has Changed (2014)

Cover versions

  • The Great Imposters - Dollars in Drag: A Tribute to David Bowie
  • Davy Jones' Mannish Ideals - Only Bowie (1995)
  • Purple Hearts - Beat That!
  • Love Messengers - We Said! We Said!
  • Mark Stewart - Shame - Metatron (1990)
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