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"I'm Afraid of Americans" is a song and single by David Bowie from the 1997 album Earthling. The song, co-written by Bowie and Brian Eno, originally appeared as a rough mix on the soundtrack to the film Showgirls and was subsequently remade for Earthling.

Background

Bowie describes the feelings behind the song:
It's not as truly hostile about Americansmarker as say "Born in the U.S.A.": it's merely sardonic.
I was traveling in Javamarker when [its] first McDonald's went up: it was like, "for fuck's sake."
The invasion by any homogenised culture is so depressing, the erection of another Disney World in, say, Umbria, Italymarker, more so.
It strangles the indigenous culture and narrows expression of life.


The working title for the song was "Dummy".

Releases

"I'm Afraid of Americans" originally appeared as a rough mix on the soundtrack to the film Showgirls (in which the chorus is "I'm afraid of the animals" instead of the later "I'm afraid of Americans") and was subsequently remade for Earthling. This version and two of the Nine Inch Nails remixes were released on the bonus disc of the Digibook Expanded Edition of Earthling in 2004. The song is sampled for a remix of Company Flow's "Patriotism" when El-P performs it.

A CD single for "I'm Afraid of Americans" was released in the United Statesmarker. The single did not include the album version of the song; instead, it featured remixes of the track performed by Bowie's former tourmates, Nine Inch Nails, and drum and bass artist Photek. The (V1) mix became more popular than the original version, largely in part of the accompanying video, leading to its appearance on the retrospective Best of Bowie.

Tracklistings

CD/vinyl: Virgin / 8 38618 2 (US)
  1. I'm Afraid of Americans (V1) — 5:31
  2. I'm Afraid of Americans (V2) — 5:51
  3. I'm Afraid of Americans (V3) — 6:18
  4. I'm Afraid of Americans (V4) — 5:25
  5. I'm Afraid of Americans (V5) — 5:38
  6. I'm Afraid of Americans (V6) — 11:18


CD promo: Virgin / DPRO-12749 (US)
  1. "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V1 Edit)- 4:30
  2. "I'm Afraid of Americans" (Original Edit) - 4:12
  3. "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V3) - 6:06
  4. "I'm Afraid of Americans" (V1 Clean Edit) - 4:30


Personnel



Music video

A Taxi Driver-influenced music video was produced for the "I'm Afraid of Americans (V1)" remix, starring David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor. Directed by Dom and Nic, it features Bowie being stalked through New York Citymarker by Jonny, a hostile American, played by Reznor. As Bowie continues to be harassed and becomes more and more paranoid, he witnesses (or imagines he witnesses) random acts of violence perpetrated by citizens on one another — but their hands are empty, as if holding invisible guns. The video ends with Bowie ducking behind a taxi while Reznor fires an imaginary assault rifle that inflicts severe damage on a vehicle. Bowie awakens later, only to witness Reznor carrying a crucifix in a parade reminiscent of Day of the Dead celebrations or the movie Something Wicked This Way Comes. The music video premiered on MTV Live, and later received a MTV Video Music Award nomination in 1998 for Best Male Video.

Live versions and covers

Sonic Youth performed the song together with Bowie at his 50th Birthday Bash in New York City in January 1997. A version recorded at GQ Awards, New York City, 15 October 1997, was released on LiveAndWell.com in 2000. Another version recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre, London, June 27 2000, was released on the bonus disc following the first releases of Bowie at the Beeb in 2000. A version performed in Dublinmarker, Irelandmarker was recorded for the DVD A Reality Tour in 2003.

The American techno band Q covered the song for the 2003 compilation Spiders from Venus: Indie Women Artists and Female-Fronted Bands Cover David Bowie, a version which also featured on Hero: The Main Man Records Tribute to David Bowie (2007). The American metal band Fashion Bomb likewise covered it for the 2006 album .2 Contamination: A Tribute to David Bowie.

Swiss band MIZAN covered "I'm Afraid of Americans" on their second album, AVRASYA. Nine Inch Nails covered the song live in their 2009 Wave Goodbye Tour.

Notes




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