Friday, October 27, 2017

"This Is Not America" by David Bowie/Pat Metheny Group

Song#:  2205
Date:  02/02/1985
Debut:  65
Peak:  32
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Jazz musician Pat Metheny and his band, which featured his frequent collaborator pianist Lyle Mays, were already two-time Grammy winners when an offer came in for them to do the score for the upcoming film The Falcon and the Snowman. Metheny and Mays composed the score, but it seems that a more pop-oriented song was wanted to help promote the film and soundtrack. The pair had come up with a theme for one part of the film and decided to expand upon it to make the tune more mainstream. They needed a collaborator to help finish the song and somewhere along the way David Bowie was suggested, most likely due to the artists being on the same label. Bowie agreed to work with Metheny and wrote a set of lyrics. The pair then produced the final version with Bowie supplying the vocals. The single was issued ahead of the film and it did well at Rock getting to #7. It was also able to crack the Pop Top 40. It did better in the UK reaching #14. It would be Metheny's only song to hit the Pop chart. The movie, which starred Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton, was well-received critically and did respectable at the box office.

ReduxReview:  This dark and atmospheric song was perfect for Bowie. Metheny and Mays reeled in their jazz/improv tendencies and created a solid structure that could hold Bowie's lyrics and voice. The resulting recording was terrific and better than most of the tracks on Bowie's recent album Tonight. Rock embraced the tune and it made the Top 10 there, but the song may have been a bit too dark and serious for Pop to really catch on. However, the Top 40 showing was positive and it has become an essential part of Bowie's 80s catalog.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Pat Metheny began his recording career with a solo effort in 1976 titled Bright Size Life. He formed his group two years later and several popular jazz albums would follow. His brand of progressive jazz/jazz fusion mixed with ambient and new age sounds attracted a big audience and his albums would frequently do well on the Pop chart. The Grammy folks took notice and began rewarding Metheny in 1983 with the Group's first win in the Best Jazz Fusion Performance category for their album Offramp. Over the years, the Group would win 11 Grammys. Metheny himself would take home another 9. Metheny is the only artist to have won Grammys in 10 different categories. He has also won a Grammy in every decade since the 1980's. The height of his popularity came in the late 80s/early 90s when three of his albums would become gold records.



  1. 8/10 as well. Really good tune. Also, besides Yellow Magic Orchestra and Yoko Ono, are there any other Asian musicians who made the Hot 100 charts in the 80's? The Japanese duo Pink Lady just missed out on this site because their single "Kiss in the Dark" was released in 1979, not 1980. It was their only U.S. hit, peaking at No. 37 on the Hot 100.

    1. Good question. I can't recall any. It's funny - I have that Pink Lady album! I even have digitized it to iTunes. As a kid I used to watch the variety show Pink Lady and Jeff and I was at a record show years ago and found a really nice copy of the Pink Lady album. It's a gatefold too! Oddly, I just played the album last week on a lark. So funny you mention them!