David Bowie refused to contribute song to infamous ‘Trainspotting’ toilet scene
If we’ve learned anything since the death of cultural icon David Bowie, it’s that when he wasn’t making music, he was saying “no” to stuff. He just loved saying “no.” He said “no” to Coldplay. He said “no” to the Chili Peppers more than once. He told Dave Grohl to “fuck off.”
Granted, a lot of people loved Bowie, and when you’ve got a lot of fans, you’ve probably also got a lot of offers to be a part of every other dumbnut’s pet project. Turns out one such project was Danny Boyle’s breakout hit “Trainspotting,” which turns 20 this year.
Boyle, like every other thing on this planet that breathes oxygen, adored Bowie, and had hoped to use his song “Golden Years” for the scene where Ewan McGregor dives into The Worst Toilet in Scotland to retrieve some opium suppositories. But according to EMI A&R Tristram Penna, who helped compile the film’s soundtrack, the Thin White Duke was having none of it. As reported by Dazed:
Boyle and his producer Andrew Macdonald “(told) me of the difficulties they were having in clearing tracks for the film – David Bowie had turned them, down for example… Andrew and Danny were desperate for Bowie – if memory serves, (they wanted) ‘Golden Years’ for the toilet scene (Brian Eno’s ‘Deep Blue Day’ was ultimately used).”
Instead, Penna suggested using Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life”, which was produced by Bowie, for the film’s famous ‘Choose Life’ opening sequence. Boyle was thrilled with the results, and Penna went on to suggest other soundtrack inclusions for the film, including Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” for the scene where Ewan McGregor’s character, Renton, overdoses on heroin.
Renton added that he had purposefully suggested “Lust for Life” because Boyle and Macdonald “were continually upset that Bowie had turned them down.” He also told Dazed that while his work on the soundtrack was “most important cultural thing I’ve done,” he wished he hadn’t suggested “Perfect Day” for the overdose scene.
“The irony and the beauty of the song worked in a sublime fashion,” Renton said. “(But) every time I hear that fucking awful BBC single with Heather Small in foghorn mode, I kick and blame myself. I’m really happy about Iggy, (though) I will regret putting ‘Perfect Day’ forward to my dying day.”
As for Bowie, it wouldn’t be the last time Boyle bugged him. In 2012, the director asked the singer to perform as part of the opening London Olympics ceremony, and also pursued making a Bowie musical biopic.
Bowie said “no.”