David Bowie is one of those artists who has taken on as many covers as he has written his own songs. Among the plethora of original songs the Thin White Duke took on, including The Velvet Underground, The Stooges and many more. One other song Bowie found himself at the helm of was that of another singer with a penchant for the dramatic: Morrissey and his song ‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday’. However, there was one differing factor in this cover as Bowie often showed disdain towards The Smiths leading man.
The pair first met in 1990 backstage at the Sound + Vision tour stop in Manchester where Morrissey, following his adoration of the great Bowie from afar, met one of his idols in the flesh. Of course, by that time, Morrissey himself had become a teen idol and Bowie seemingly was willing to anoint the singer as his heir to the glam crown when he joined him on stage in Los Angeles in 1991 to perform a duet on ‘Cosmic Dancer’ to a fervorous crowd.
This relationship was then further bonded in 1993 when Bowie took on Morrissey’s own song ‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday’ on Bowie’s Black Tie White Noise. But while the idea of covering a song is often centred around a great deal of respect, Bowie chose this song as a slight dig at Morrissey. The dig came as Bowie realised that the coda saxophone arrangement on ‘Someday’ was incredibly similar to that of ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’. “It occurred to me that he was spoofing one of my earlier songs, and I thought, I’m not going to let him get away with that,” Bowie later said.
This was enough to set Bowie on a path to satirise the Smiths singer and, in a bold move, tried to replicate the sound of Ziggy Stardust to highlight the song’s similarities. However, what transpired was a somewhat weak effort at a joke, a strained vocal and a moment in Bowie’s career we’d all probably like to breeze past.
Morrissey though said he loved the cover and the pair kept good communications for the few years following the cover until, in 1995, Morrissey was invited to be a part of Bowie’s tour on some UK and European dates. Right from the start, Morrissey’s nose was put out of shape after being put on the tour announcements as a “special guest” and it got worse as Morrissey would occasionally open proceedings with “Good evening, we are your support group”.
However, the breaking point would come according to Morrissey when Bowie would slowly replace Morrissey’s band throughout the last few songs of the set before Morrissey would be joined by Bowie for a rendition of one of Bowie’s own songs. David thought it would make for great theatre while Morrissey was left implying that Bowie had become a diva.
As is his way so often these days, Morrissey would leave the tour only (after only nine dates) and spend much the rest of his time lamenting Bowie. He recalled in one interview: “You have to worship at the temple of David when you become involved with him” and, n another interview, he said Bowie “is no longer David Bowie at all. Now he gives people what he thinks will make them happy, and they’re yawning their heads off. And by doing that, he is not relevant. He was only relevant by accident.”
It’s a sad state which even continued following Bowie’s death in 2016 with Morrissey deliberately failed to mention the star when performing a memorium song. David Bowie, though, kept quiet on his relationship with The Smiths singer, maintaining a professional stance in front of the media at least.
A sad ending to what seemed like it could have been an incredibly fruitful creative partnership. But many believe the sourness between the two resonated from Bowie’s cover of ‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Sunday’. So without further ado, listen to tat very cover below.