Iggy Pop

The Passenger

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 Virgin 4:44
Livin' on the Edge of the Night 1990 Atlantic 4:41
Passenger 1990 Virgin 4:45
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
Trainspotting, Vol. 2 1997
Original Soundtrack
Capitol / EMI Records 4:38
Cult Rockers: Rebels 1998
Various Artists
Beloved Records 4:42
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
The Best Pub Jukebox in the World...Ever! 2000
Various Artists
Virgin 4:41
Party Explosion!!! 2001
Various Artists
Columbia 4:40
Complete Punk Collection: Cash from Chaos 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:41
Platinum & Gold Collection 2004 BMG Heritage / Arista 4:43
Dad Rocks! [Virgin UK 2005] 2005
Various Artists
Virgin 4:40
The Rock 'N' Roll Rider: Jack Lives Here 2005
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 4:42
Driving Songs 2006
Various Artists
Virgin 4:40
Kurt Cobain: About a Son [Soundtrack] 2007
Original Soundtrack
Barsuk 4:40
101 Driving Songs 2008
Various Artists
Virgin 4:39
No Image 2008
Various Artists
EMI / EMI Music Distribution 4:40
Dad Rocks! 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:39
101 Running Songs, Lap 2 2010
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:39
Essential 2011 EMI / EMI Gold 4:41
Playlist: The Very Best of Iggy Pop 2013 Columbia / Legacy 4:43
Massive Hits!: Rock
Various Artists
EMI Gold 4:43
Rock Icons
Various Artists
Universal 4:42
The Best Rock Anthems ...Ever!
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:39