This Unreleased Demo of ‘Let’s Dance’ Might Be More Timeless Than the Album Version; Hear the recently released track with Nile Rodgers.
When David Bowie first played an early version of “Let’s Dance” for Nile Rodgers in 1982, the Chic guitarist was not impressed. “I come from dance music,” Rodgers told Bowie at the time. “You can’t call that thing you just played ‘Let’s Dance.'”
So Rodgers tinkered with the structure and the chords and turned the song into one of Bowie’s biggest hits. They recorded the whole album in 17 days—start to finish with mastering—and Rodgers later called it, “the easiest record I’ve ever made in my whole life.”
Somewhere in those 17 days, Bowie and Rodgers recorded a demo version of “Let’s Dance,” which has never been properly released until today. It’s a stripped-down take on the song, missing many of the effects, synths, backing vocals, and horns. It’s just guitar, drums, bass, and Bowie.
What’s interesting is that this stripped down version takes away much of that ’80s edge of the original, making this demo feel even more timeless. It also highlights Bowie and Rodgers’s songwriting ability, focusing on the song’s beautiful structure and chord progression. Along with that, it’s easier to hear the dynamics of Bowie’s vocal performance, with some of the incredible bends and and notes he hits. In fact, this version seems even more like an intimate love song than one for a dance party. But that’s David Bowie for you—the ever-changing chameleon. Even almost two years after his death, he’s still full of surprises.