Being There

Ruminations on Music, Film and Culture


Cover-to-Cover: “Penny Lane” by David Bowie

\”Penny Lane\” as performed by David Bowie

I don’t have to tell you that David Bowie is a rock ‘n’ roll icon, known for dozens of original compositions in an array of styles – from “Space Oddity” and “Ziggy Stardust” to “Ashes to Ashes” and “I’m Afraid of Americans.”  The list is endless.

Most prolific songwriters wouldn’t bother with covering other people’s songs, let alone frequently; but Bowie has always made a point of it, looking to sources like George Harrison, Jonathan Richman and even Bruce Springsteen and Nina Simone to mix things up a little bit.

From deep in the Bowie archives comes this 1967 version of The Beatles’ “Penny Lane.”  It wasn’t uncommon at the time for emerging British pop stars to tackle songs that were already popular (people like Chris Farlowe pretty much made a point of it).

That’s where this track comes in. Up until this morning, I had no idea this cover version existed – some even deny its authenticity – but to me it sounds pretty much like you’d expect from ’67-era Bowie, when he was still trying to find his footing and hadn’t quite hit it big yet. I’ll let you be the judge.

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3 Responses to “Cover-to-Cover: “Penny Lane” by David Bowie”

  1. June 15th, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    delfuller1 says:

    Come on people, please research the dates before you make rash comments! Penny Lane is definitely NOT Bowie. Another urban myth perpetuated by greedy dealers to hike up the price of a 50p LP found in most charity shops. It’s a track on Hits 67, (Music For Pleasure 1967), a covers LP similar to the Top Of The Pops series of LPs. For one thing the voice is older than the then 20 year old Bowie sounded. Patrickpatterson credits session singer Alan Johnson and he’s no doubt correct but what is important to note is The Beatles released Penny Lane 13/2/67 so the MFP compilation with this cover would have been made later. Bowie was in Decca studios London recording his own debut album, entitled David Bowie, between 11/11/66 -25/2/67 which was released June 1967. Wake up people.

  2. July 29th, 2010 at 7:42 am

    delfuller1 says:

    Just seen the Hits 67 LP on ebay, again with the erroneous reference to Bowie. I emailed the seller with all the known facts and he removed the listing

  3. August 30th, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    JJ Woods says:

    I have penny lane sung by bowie both on a CD and also I have the original combilation album,

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