Iggy Pop

The Passenger

Composed by Iggy Pop / Ricky Gardiner

Song Review by

"The Passenger" first rode into view on Iggy Pop's third solo effort, Lust for Life, the follow-up album coming quickly on the heels of his first real musical collaboration with David Bowie, The Idiot LP released earlier that same year. "The Passenger" is a voyeuristic homage to the nocturnal wanderings of life lived after hours. Many of the tracks on Lust for Life are co-written with Bowie, but the music on "The Passenger" was provided by session guitarist Rick Gardiner. The tune is based on a laid-back four-chord progression, where the end of each chord is clipped, giving buoyancy to the mid-tempo rhythm. Seriously rock-solid support from brothers Tony and Hunt Sales on bass and drums nails down a springy groove. "The Passenger" was written during a self-imposed "exile" in Berlin, Germany, where Pop and Bowie undertook to distance themselves from their drug connections, a move they later admitted was only moderately successful, as they could not resist the hedonistic nightlife the city had to offer. The lyrics, written around this time, make it easy to imagine the singer as the "passenger" safely viewing the "city's ripped backsides," protected as "he sees things from under glass," cruising the streets, taking in the sights. There is a sense of decadence as Pop delivers the lines in a relaxed, almost baritone croon while he invites listeners into his late-night world: "Get into the car/We'll be the passenger/We'll see the stars that shine so bright/Stars made for us tonight/And everything is made for you and me/'Cause it just belongs to you and me/So let's take a ride and see what's mine." This is the artists' domain, where they are most comfortable, where they live and work, while most of the world sleeps. "The Passenger" seems to personify the rather romantic and popular image of two musicians escaping to a foreign land, feeding one another inspiration, creating some of their best work while unable to fully pull themselves away from the rock & roll world that is a part of them. Several attempts to cover the song by the likes of Siouxsie & the Banshees and Bauhaus proved unable to quite capture the spirit of the original.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Lust for Life 1977 4 Men with Beards
Virgin Value Collector Series 9 1990
Various Artists
Virgin
Mahner Rock 1994
Various Artists
ZYX Music 4:41
Absolute Party [Eva] 1994
Various Artists
Eva 4:40
Devolution One 1995
Various Artists
Big Life
Nude & Rude: The Best of Iggy Pop 1996 Virgin 4:43
The Best of Iggy Pop Live 1996 MCA
Trainspotting, Vol. 2 1997
Original Soundtrack
Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 4:38
Cult Rockers: Rebels 1998
Various Artists
Beloved Records 4:42
Hippodrome - Paris 77 1998 Revenge Records 8:11
The Best Album in the World...Ever! Vol. 7 1998
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:40
The Best Glam Rock Album in the World Ever 1998
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:40
First Generation: Virgin 25 Years 1998
Various Artists
Virgin 4:41
WBCN Naked Too 1998
Various Artists
Wicked Disc 8:41
Nights of the Iguana 1999 Remedy Records 8:11
Best TV Ads...Ever! 2000
Various Artists
Virgin
No Image 2000
Various Artists
WEA International
Random Noise 2000
Various Artists
Thunderbolt (UK) 4:42
23 2000
Original Soundtrack
23
EMI Music Distribution 4:42
The Best Pub Jukebox in the World...Ever! 2000
Various Artists
Virgin 4:41
Classic Rock Hits [Dead Line] 2001
Various Artists
Dead Line Music 4:45
Party Explosion!!! 2001
Various Artists
Columbia 4:40
Complete Punk Collection: Cash from Chaos 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:41
Pop Classics [Disky] 2002
Various Artists
Disky
Rock Classics: The Heavyweights 2002
Various Artists
Repertoire
Best of Driving Rock 2002
Various Artists
EMI
Punk: The Jubilee 2002
Various Artists
Phantom Import Distribution
High Voltage 2004
Various Artists
Disky 4:40
Iggy in Paris 2004 Immortal
No Image 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Platinum & Gold Collection 2004 BMG / Sony Music
Ultimate Live 2004 EMI Music Distribution 5:58
Full Speed 2005
Various Artists
Disky
Live at the Avenue B 2005 Virgin
Full Throttle 2005
Various Artists
Disky
The Rock 'N' Roll Rider: Jack Lives Here 2005
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 4:42
Nick Rhodes and John Taylor Present Only After Dark 2006
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Lust for Live 1977 2006 Phantom Records (England) / Ozit 8:28
Driving Songs 2006
Various Artists
Virgin 4:40
No Image 2006
Various Artists
EMI 4:40
101 Jukebox Classics 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:39
Kurt Cobain: About a Son [Soundtrack] 2007
Original Soundtrack
Barsuk 4:40
Holiday Gift Pack 2007 Virgin 4:40
No Image 2008 Euro Trend / MCP
101 Driving Songs 2008
Various Artists
Virgin 4:39
No Image 2008
Various Artists
EMI / EMI Music Distribution 4:40
Where the Faces Shine, Vol. 2: The Official Live Experience 2008 Easy Action Records / Cadiz 4:58
Dad Rocks! 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:39
101 Running Songs, Lap 2 2010
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:39
Roadkill Rising: The Bootleg Collection 1977-2009 2011 Shout! Records 6:13
I Used to Be a Stooge, But Now I'm a Real Wild Child 2011 The Store for Music 4:47
Essential 2011 Virgin 4:41
Ultimate Driving Rock Hits 2012
Various Artists
EMI Gold 4:42
Love Songs: Dad Rocks (Fathers Day) 2012
Various Artists
Bellevue Publishing 4:07
Playlist: The Very Best of Iggy Pop 2013 Columbia / Legacy 4:43
300 Hits: Beach Party 2014
Various Artists
Bellevue Publishing / Wienerworld 3:46
Icon 2014 Virgin 4:40
Now That's What I Call Classic Rock [2015] 2015
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:39
Search and Destroy: Live in Chicago, 1988 2015 Echoes
Post Pop Depression 2016 Eagle Rock / Eagle Vision 5:41
Post Pop Depression: Live from Royal Albert Hall 2016 Loma Vista 5:50
American Road Trip 2017
Various Artists
UMOD
101 70s Rock Anthems
Various Artists
Spectrum Music
70s Mixtape
Various Artists
UMe / Universal 4:42
Absolute Rock Anthems II
Various Artists
2009 Eva / Eva
Classic Rock [Rhino]
Various Artists
Rhino
Greatest Ever Indie Disco: The Definitive Collection
Various Artists
Greatest Ever
Massive Hits!: Rock
Various Artists
EMI Gold 4:43
Original Hits: All American
Various Artists
EMI Gold 4:41
Original Hits: Drivetime
Various Artists
EMI / EMI Gold 4:42
The Best Rock Anthems ...Ever!
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:39
blue highlight denotes editor's pick