The Man Who Sold the World: Rolling Stones Readers Poll 10th Greatest Bowie Album (2013)

The Man Who Sold the World
By: David Bowie
Album: The Man Who Sold the World
Released: November 4, 1970
Songwriter: David Bowie

David Bowie shifted on his third album, The Man Who Sold the World from the "acoustic/folk rock" of 1969's self-titled album towards "hard rock/blues rock"...with dark lyrics.

Guitarist Mick Ronson and drummer Mick Woodmansey made their first appearance on a Bowie record. They became Ziggy Stardust's backing band, Spiders from Mars. In a 2013 readers' poll for Rolling Stone, The Man Who Sold the World was voted Bowie's tenth greatest album.

Most critics consider this a transitional album. There's no hit like
the last LP's "Space Oddity " or the following record's "Changes." 
Album review at Ultimate Classic Rock

David Bowie

The title track, "A Man Who Sold the World," tells of a man who no longer recognizes himself. Some of the lyrics are based on a poem by Hugh Mearns called The Psychoed:

The Man Who Sold the World album cover David Bowie
The Man Who Sold the World UK LP cover

As I was going up the stair
I met a man who was not there
He wasn't there again today
I wish that man would go away
John Mendelssohn wrote in Rolling Stone magazine in 1971: "Bowie's music offers an experience that is as intriguing as it is chilling, but only to the listener sufficiently together to withstand the schizophrenia."


The Scottish-born singer Lulu recorded a cover of "A Man Who Sold the World."  She's best known in the United States for the song "To Sir With Love" from the 1967 film starring Sidney Poitier.  

Lulu & David Bowie

Bowie produced her version and played saxophone on the track. It went to Number 4 in the UK. She spoke to Uncut magazine in June 2008 about her recording: 

"I first met David on tour in the early '70s when he invited me to his concert. And back at the hotel, he said, in very heated language, 'I want to make an MF of a record with you. You're a great singer.'

I didn't think 'The Man Who Sold The World' was the most excellent song for my voice, but it was such a strong song. In the studio, he kept telling me to smoke more cigarettes, to give my voice a certain quality."


Nirvana recorded this for their 1993 MTV Unplugged performance. Months after the MTV show, Kurt Cobain was found dead. The acoustic set was released as an album in late 1994.


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