100 Greatest Songs of the 70’s #58 Iggy Pop – The Passenger

Released: 1977

“I think I am a little different upstairs, yeah. But so are a lot of people,” Iggy Pop admitted to Chris Roberts during an interview for Sounds in 1986. Conducted in a period of stability – probably the first of his life since joining The Stooges in 1967 – the singer seemed then to be at peace with himself. But it wasn’t always that way even back during the period of his early solo material, a process undertaken with David Bowie in a then very much still divided Berlin a decade before.

With Bowie himself in an imperial period during which he would create arguably his finest work, the two collaborated first on The Idiot and then Lust For Life, the latter a musical watershed for his cohort as the excesses of the past were supposedly consigned to history. The Passenger has self evidently long since been overshadowed by the album’s title track, a song given a shot of ultra cinematic adrenaline by Danny Boyle’s 1996 film Trainspotting. However for many years previously this was very much the token by which this period of the Godfather of Punk’s career was most recognised.

The song’s musical inspiration – via the ultra distinctive guitar riff – presented itself to co-writer Ricky Gardiner as he wandered round beneath the April blossom in the garden of his rural home. Inspired by a Jim Morrison poem, attempts have been made since to interpret the words as a sideways commentary on Bowie, but more simply, the themes of feeling simultaneously both secure but powerless are familiar to many humans. Iggy Pop may have been a little different upstairs to most other people yes, but even godfathers need a lift sometimes.

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