I've got the village I love I walk along beside the garbagemen and I dig everything I wave to the policemen, but they don't wave back They don't dig anything Ain't had a job for a year or more and I don't know a thing Everything's spent and I dig everything Everything's spent and I dig everything Dig I feed the lions in Trafalgar Square and I dig everything I've sit just behind my window, till my cigarettes were low and dug everything Got a backstreet room in the bad part of town and I dig everything I'd see people in the street below, who don't know where they're going They don't dig anything Everything's spent and I dig everything Everything's spent and I dig everything Dig I've got more friends than I've had had dinners Some of them were losers, but the rest of them are winners Rick, John, Sally, a connection named Paul Holy low on money, their intentions are tall We smoke and talk in my room and we dig everything Dig I've made myself at home I've made good friends which the time-check girl on the end of the phone All the movie shows I sunbathe for love Even when it's not too hot 'Cause I dig everything Oh yeah
‘I Dig Everything’, recorded on 5th July 1966 and released on 19th August 1966, was Bowie’s third and last single under the Pye label, backed by ‘I’m Not Losing Sleep’ as the B-Side.
Tony Hatch, producer of the previous two singles, had booked quite a number of gigs for Bowie and his band The Buzz throughout the spring of 1966. However, after ‘Do Anything You Say’ had flopped it was time for the band to get their act together and release another single to increase their popularity. According to Cann’s Any Day Now, Bowie and The Buzz already tried to record ‘I Dig Everything’ on 6th June at Pye Studios, Marble Arch, including a brass section with Moods trumpeter Andy Kirk. Also part of the arrangement on that day were Dusty Springfield’s backing singers Madeline Bell, Kiki Dee and Lesley Duncan. But the problem with this recording session was that the arrangement with the new brass section and backing singers had not rehearsed that song before – and Tony Hatch was not convinced that this recording would make for a good single.*
5th July, the day of the proper recording of ‘I Dig Everything’ and ‘I’m Not Losing Sleep’, was preceded by a radical change in the band structure of The Buzz: on 15th June the band’s guitarist John Hutchinson had to quit his membership in the band due to the lack a regular financial income. Hutchinson would work with Bowie again, and then more substantially, in late 1967 – but we’ll come to that later. Hutchinson’s departure worsenend not only the atmosphere in the band**, but might have also led to Tony Hatch’s decision to exclude the entire band from recording the new single with Bowie. For the recording, Hatch had booked a couple of session musicians instead of The Buzz. Unfortunately, these musicians are unknown today, they were not documented. Hatch recalled in 1990:
I couldn’t tell you for certain who played on the re-recording but in those days, for ‘rock’ sessions, I always hired great musicians like Jimmy Page, John McLaughlin, Jim Sullivan, Herbie Flowers, Clem Cattini, Tony from Sounds Incorporated, Roger Coulam and Alan Hawkshaw, the ‘hooligans’ of their time. Come to think of it – most of these people also featured on the Petula Clark sessions too.
So, the recording session was successful and ‘I Dig Everything’ was scheduled to be released a month later. In the meantime however, Kenneth Pitt (who had overseen David’s development for quite a while now) sent an advance copy to Vicky Wickhamd, the driving force behind Ready Steady Go!, on 18th July, but received the copy back shortly thereafter with a short comment reading: “Very many thanks for the David Bowie disc. I am sorry, but yet again I really do not think it is a hit. One day I am going to surprise you!”
The single itself was yet another flop in a series of flops David Bowie had witnessed already in his musical career until then. ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me’, released earlier in 1966, had perhaps come closest to a chart success (though it can be argued that the charting method was quite biased). Upon its release, the single was met relatively positive: “Another disc that’s perfect for dancing” (NME); David “wrote it himself and sings it, with his voice moving very well against the backing” (Disc & Music Echo).
Though The Buzz were not part of the actual recording of the single, they nonetheless continued to perform live with David Bowie in the coming months and played the new single among other songs***. According to the Kent Messenger, Bowie and his band used a “completely new act” on 26th August by using pre-recorded tapes in their live sets. For this new act they have supposedly rehearsed 8 hours per day. According to Cann, the performance was a disaster due to synchronisation problems between the tape and the songs sung live. The chart failure that ‘I Dig Everything’ was finally led to Pye’s decision to part ways with David Bowie, and hence his contract ended in September that year.
Ironically, from today’s point of view ‘I Dig Everything’ together with ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me’ can easily be called one of the best tracks Bowie had released until then. The song features a very playful side of the young mod Bowie that he presumably still was. While the song starts of with a dominant Hammond organ it later on develops into a memorisable tune using a Latin-flavoured percussion that gives the song a nice rounding.
Lyrically, the song can be aligned with ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me’, ‘The London Boys’ and ‘Join The Gang’ as a story of a young teenager in London leaving his family and old life behind. These songs resemble Bowie’s mod associations. In contrast to ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me’ the new single features a teenager not leaving but rather having arrived (notably in London as the lyrics suggest), a teenager who is delighted by everything and everyone that he sees: garbagemen, policemen, a bad room, not having had a job for years, his new friend circle. And so on. The song also hints at drug circulating among him and his friends (the “connection”).
This is a song that captures the spirit of Swinging London in 60s: groups of young teenagers hanging out together that do not follow the ordinary and responsible lifestyle as perhaps their parents did. The character in the song is described as a loser without a job and any money, but a sympathetic one. He finds pleasure in everything he sees, interestingly in the most normal things.
‘I Dig Everything’ was not performed anymore in the subsequent decades. Until the late 90s and early 00s when he began to revisit his old song material for some sporadic live performances and the Toy sessions (the album that never was) in 2000. ‘I Dig Everything’ was among those songs that Bowie picked. The song as performed in his summer 2000 concerts can be heard through the link below:
The Toy album version (as leaked onto the internet in 2011) can be heard here:
* Dek Fearnley, bassist for The Buzz, recalled: “The arrangement wasn’t up to it. The horn section were OK at playing soul music, but not what we wanted.”
** In fact, in the weeks after Hutchinson left the band they were forced to give a couple of gigs without a lead guitarist as they simply couldn’t find a suitable replacement on time. John Hutchinson would finally be replaced by former Anteeks guitarist Billy Gray (a more exuberant nature on stage).
*** Interestingly, among those other songs were ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, nowadays a well-known football anthem. Keep in mind that in the summer of 1966 England had won the World Cup beating West Germany at Wembley.
- Vinyl I Dig Everything (A-Side) / I’m Not Losing Sleep (B-Side) 8/1966
- CD Early On (1964-1966) 1991
- Vinyl I Dig Everything: The 1966 Pye Singles EP 1999
- Toy Sessions unreleased
- David Bowie (vocal)
- Session musicians unknown
- Produced by Tony Hatch