Wild Is The Wind was the title song from the 1957 film of the same name starring Anthony Quinn, Anna Magnini and Anthony Franciosa. It was written by composer Dimitri Tomkin and lyricist Ned Washington. Washington wrote the words for Jazz Vocal classics such as Stella By Starlight, I’m Getting Sentimental Over You, The Nearness Of You and On Green Dolphin Street. All of these were recorded by Ella Fitzgerald (amongst others) the latter with Louis Armstrong. Washington also wrote the words for Gene Pitney’s hit, Town Without Pity from the film of the same name. He was nominated more than ten times for an Academy Award, he won twice, once for the classic When You Wish Upon A Star from Pinocchio and the other for High Noon’s Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darlin’ – lyrics you know but didn’t know were his.
Dimitri Tomkin wrote the score for a slew of classic westerns, High Noon, Gunfight At The O.K. Corral, The Alamo and The Old Man And The Sea, nominated more than 20 times for Oscars and winning four times, three for the scores for High Noon, The Old Man And The Sea and The High And The Mighty and once with Washington for Best Song on High Noon. Unsurprisingly Wild Is The Wind is one of a long list of their classic repertoire.
The song was originally sung by Johnny Mathis for the film but it has been recorded many times. Nina Simone recorded it in 1959 on Live At Town Hall, Shirley Horn recorded a Julie London like version in 1961, Simone recorded it again in 1966 and it’s this incredible version that inspired Bowie to record it.
Many versions have appeared over the years. Torchy Nancy Wilson recorded it in 1963 on her album Hollywood – My Way and more recently, diverse acts from Dutch Dark Wave eighties moodsters, Clan Of Xymox, although their version doesn’t quite make it in my humble opinion. George Michael recorded a super slick vocal version in 1999 on his cover’s album, lacking in that something that all mainstream acts seem to miss. Cat Power on Chan Marshall’s cover’s record where she loses the urgency half way though, a standard version by Amel Larrieux on Lovely Standards in 2008, cellist and Jazz bassist Eperanza Spalding’s intellectual version. Then there’s the tragic and the great Billy Mckenzie singing an amazing version on the posthumous Transmission Impossible released in 2005 seven years after his death. Bat For Lashes released an eerie version as a record store day 7 inch and there’s even a truly awful version by Barbra Streisand on The Movies Album.
The song’s power is in a passionate lyric with a complex and stirring melody evoking the electricity and longing of inseparable secret lovers.
The song comes from the album, Station To Station, released in 1976. I’ve always loved Bowie’s version – how it builds, and that drum roll!!!!
In Bowie’s version the line up is:
David Bowie: Vocals, Guitar
Carlos Alomar, Earl Slick: Guitar
George Murray: Bass
Dennis Davis: Drums
Roy Bittan: Piano
There seems to be different versions of the lyrics, this is the Bowie version:
Love me, love me, love me, say you do
Let me fly away with you
For my love is like the wind, and wild is the wind
Wild is the wind
Give me more than one caress, satisfy this hungriness
Let the wind blow through your heart
For wild is the wind, wild is the wind
You touch me,
I hear the sound of mandolins
You kiss me
With your kiss my life begins
You’re spring to me, all things to me
Don’t you know, you’re life itself!
Like the leaf clings to the tree,
Oh, my darling, cling to me
For we’re like creatures of the wind, and wild is the wind
Wild is the wind