Classic Rock Wiki

"Lust for Life" is a 1977 song performed by Iggy Pop and co-written by David Bowie, featured on the album Lust for Life. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked it #149 on their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".



  • 1 Music
  • 2 Track listing
    • 2.1 1996 UK single
  • 3 References
  • 4 In pop culture
  • 5 Cover versions
  • 6 Notes


Co-written by Iggy Pop and David Bowie, Bowie providing the music (written on a ukulele), and Pop the lyrics, the song is known for its opening drumbeat (played by Hunt Sales). The drumbeat has since been imitated in numerous songs, including "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" by Jet and "Selfish Jean" by Travis; however, Sales's use of the drumbeat was not original, as it was itself derived from "You Can't Hurry Love", released in July 1966 by The Supremes,[1] and "I'm Ready For Love", released in October 1966 by Martha and the Vandellas.

In 1977, the song reached number 3 in the Dutch Top 40. Its success was ignited by a legendary performance in the Dutch pop TV show TopPop, where Iggy Pop, shirtless, wrecked part of the stage set (which consisted of a couple of potted plants and some cardboard scenery).[2][3] Although many viewers and newspapers complained about the apparent damage, the director of TopPop later admitted that they knew beforehand what Iggy was going to do and that the damage was minimal.[citation needed]

Track listing[edit][]

1996 UK single[edit][]

  1. "Lust for Life" – 5:11
  2. "(Get Up I Feel Like a) Sex Machine" – 4:05
  3. "Lust for Life (Live at the Feile Festival, 1993)" – 5:35
  4. "I Wanna be Your Dog (Live at the Rock for Choice Benefit concert)" – 4:55


The song's lyrics contain a number of references to William S. Burroughs' experimental novel The Ticket That Exploded, most notably mentions of "Johnny Yen" (described by Burroughs as "The Boy-Girl Other Half strip tease God of sexual frustration") and "hypnotizing chickens".

In a 1995 interview, Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and manager Danny Sugerman stated that the opening lyrics were about their deceased heroin dealer, nicknamed "Gypsy Johnny", arriving at Wonderland Avenue, with his heroin and his "motorized dildos". Sugerman also claimed that the riff was a rip-off of "Touch Me" by the Doors.[citation needed]

In pop culture[edit][]

In 1996, the song gained a new audience when it was used in the introduction of the film Trainspotting. Indeed, this usage made UGO's list of Top 11 Uses of Classic Rock in Cinema

Since then, the song has appeared in a number of other movies and commercials, though sometimes with edits to the lyrics; the version of the song in the film Rugrats Go Wild changes "here comes Johnny Yen again" to "here comes Spike The Dog again." In a commercial for Royal Caribbean, "with liquor and drugs," for instance, was replaced by "looks so fine."[citation needed] The song's use in commercial contexts was satirized by the newspaper The Onion in the article "Song About Heroin Used to Advertise Bank".[4] For his part, Iggy Pop has mentioned that he has no problem with his song being used in this manner considering it was previously getting little radio play and the commercials have sparked listener interest.[5]

The instrumental opening of the song is used as the de facto 'theme' of the The Jim Rome Show on radio. It is played at the top of each hour of the show, and is also used as the song to end the show.

The live version of Lust for Life from the 1996 UK single appears as a playable song in the video game Guitar Hero 5 (2009).

In the Simpsons episode "The Regina Monologues," the song is played as Bart and Lisa become hyperactive after tasting British candy.

The song along with "Success" were featured in the documentary Warren Miller's Impact.

Cover versions[edit][]

  • Manic Street Preachers covered part of the song as a coda in the 1991 single You Love Us (Heavenly Version) with alternative lyrics.
  • Mötley Crüe covered the song in 1997 on the B-side of "Afraid."
  • Tom Jones covered the song with The Pretenders on his 1999 album Reload.
  • Bruce Willis covered the song for the soundtrack of the 2003 film Rugrats Go Wild.
  • Kay Hanley covered the song for the soundtrack of the 2005 film Just Like Heaven.
  • The Smiths' Johnny Marr and Oasis' Noel Gallagher performed the song together live at the Brixton Academy in 2014 on Marr's Playland tour.