NPR logo
Old Music Tuesdays: The Lust for Life Beat
  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Old Music Tuesdays: The Lust for Life Beat

Old Music Tuesdays: The Lust for Life Beat

Thirty years ago, Iggy Pop put out Lust for Life, the second of two albums released in 1977 with David Bowie acting as producer. Lust for Life opens with one of the most infectious drum beats in rock.

Old Music Tuesdays: The Lust for Life Beat
  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Credit on Lust for Life goes to Hunt Sales for the drums and Tony Sales for the bass. The two brothers were the children of Soupy Sales, a comedian and host of a very silly kids show in the '50s and '60s. Soupy even had a few records out, and was ever so briefly a Motown recording artist.

Now, we've all heard this beat before. But what hadn't occured to me (until a recent shuffle of songs on my iPod) was that the "Lust for Life" beat, with its accent on the 2nd and 4th beat and its bouncy swing, was heard 11 years earlier on a Motown recording by The Supremes.

Old Music Tuesdays: The Lust for Life Beat
  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

This, of course, is the song "You Can't Hurry Love," the summer hit from 1966. Who played the drums? I'm not sure; my guess is either Benny Benjamin or Pistol Allen (somebody help me on this one, please). Jack Ashford, the only person I know who is famous for playing the tambourine, did just that on this song. James Jamerson played bass.

This "Lust for Life" beat reappeared in the drums and bass of this song by Jet.

Old Music Tuesdays: The Lust for Life Beat
  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

I know this beat is on many more songs, but that is all my little brain cares to remember. Can you think of any other songs that use it?



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

This beat also appears in the song "Sporting Life" by the Decemberists.

Sent by Aaron | 4:26 PM | 1-15-2008

Tons of songs stole that beat from "You Can't Hurry Love". "American Girl" by Tom Petty, "Town Called Malice" by the Jam, "Last Nite" by the Strokes, "Throwaway Style" by the Exploding Hearts - the list goes on.

Sent by Dylan Matthews | 6:58 PM | 1-15-2008

I feel like such a dumbass now, back when that Jet song came out me and some buddies were arguing over who we thought they sounded like. AC/DC came up, however I always insisted that there seemed to be an Iggy Pop influence in there as well. It all makes sense now. I didn't realize why I thought that till you put the two together here.

Sent by Oli | 8:31 PM | 1-15-2008

Also Elvis Costello's "Love For Tender"...

Sent by Eric from Y-Rock On XPN | 9:14 PM | 1-15-2008

"Selfish Jean", the second track on Travis' new record "The Boy With No Name". Video:

Sent by Kevin | 1:13 AM | 1-16-2008

touch me, the doors?

Sent by ge | 3:32 PM | 1-16-2008

Yes, many people gave that beat a spin but nobody did it quite like Iggy. Sometimes you'd be too tired to keep dancing before the vocals even kicked in. Thank you Iggy!

Sent by Phil Duarte | 8:51 PM | 1-16-2008

Good call on "Sporting Life." Whenever I listen to one, I'm thinking of the other.

Sent by Jesse M. | 9:28 AM | 1-17-2008

Every time I hear that beat, I think of Katrina and the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine."

Sent by Joel | 2:08 PM | 1-17-2008

The Arcade Fire's "Wake Up" uses the beat at very end of the song.

Sent by Neal | 9:35 AM | 1-18-2008

alongside the supremes and iggy, MY FAVORITE LUST FOR LIFE BEAT is by THE JAM. it's the groove that drives the tune "A TOWN CALLED MALICE" which appears closer to the end of their career, after the band has refined their punk edge. yes, many bands have used this beat but VERY FEW can pull it off as well as these, motown-inspired, english chaps!

Sent by charles barrows | 3:43 PM | 1-18-2008

What about Golden Earring, "Radar Love"?

Sent by Rob O | 11:26 PM | 1-19-2008

I think that all the above posters have provided some valid answers so i am not going to repeat those but add this:

Beyond the one E. Costello track listed above, the whole Get Happy album (being a Stax / Motown tribute of sorts) uses it several times.

There's also a song on the last Camera Obscura record (can't think of the title, sorry) that uses it as well.

The Iggy thing i find interesting above all because the Stooges from Detroit (i know, i know Ann Arbor) - so it is as if they were reaching back to a sound that was after all their city's beat.


Sent by juepucta | 5:04 AM | 1-20-2008

That last 'graph made no sense.

It should read:

"... Iggy is from Detroit (...) so it is as if he was reaching back to the sound of his city".


Sent by juepucta | 2:47 AM | 1-21-2008

The Strokes' "New York City Cops"...

BTW, keep up the great work!

Sent by Carlos R. Pastrana | 4:17 PM | 1-21-2008

I'm was born in 1943 and grew up in the south. The clearest memory I have of that backbeat is the 'girlie' shows at the state fairs of that time. "Boom, chicka..." But now as I write this, I am also reminded of the processional and gradual music of the African-American evangelical churches, say Bishop Daddy Grace and the Universal House of Prayer for All People. It was definitely in my head before 1966, to the point that Iggy's use of it I would have characterized as "retro."

Sent by William Reid | 7:31 PM | 1-21-2008

How about "Ballroom Blitz" by Sweet?

Sent by Jim | 1:23 AM | 1-22-2008

@juepucta -- Are you thinking of Camera Obscura's "If Looks Could Kill"?

Sent by Aly | 1:06 AM | 1-24-2008

So, shouldn't this blog entry be titled, "Old Music Tuesdays: The You Can't Hurry Love Beat"?

You're right, but it was years after loving Lust for Life and hearing copies of that beat till I realized that it was The Supremes song that first had it that signature beat.

Bob Boilen

Sent by wilbur | 10:05 PM | 1-24-2008

The beat is definitely infectious. When you mentioned this topic on the 1/17/08 show, the first 3 songs I recognized right away. I really liked the 4th clip, but couldn't identify it. Can you tell me what it was?

was it the Travis song Selfish Jean?

Sent by Nirupa | 10:14 PM | 1-25-2008

What a weird coincidence. Just yesterday I downloaded from iTunes songs from my "Mitsubishi Mix", songs I liked from the car commercials. On the mix I had Iggy's "Lust for Life", Jet's 'Are You Gonna Be my Girl', and Sweet's 'Ballroom Blitz.' In listening to the mix I noticed the similarity in intro beats. Then just this morning I'm on the bus listening to my "All Songs Considered" podcast which referenced this blog posting. Right on serendipitous coincidences!

god I love this, and i love your Mitsubishi Mix tape idea

Sent by Kris | 11:32 AM | 1-28-2008

Maneater - Hall & Oates

Sent by Dave Edney | 3:28 PM | 1-29-2008

Hey from
Love this thread!

Sent by cb | 8:20 AM | 1-30-2008

The song Darling on the new Sons & Daughters disc "This Gift" has got the beat.

Sent by jsky | 5:12 PM | 2-9-2008

To the Travis comment - They're a bit notorious for punning on book titles and other works for album names and song titles. The beat itself, then seems like a musical "pun" - taking the original, upbeat track Motown/Stooges track and making twisting it into more of a downer of a song.

To that same end, Iggy & the Stooges and a lot of early punk were doing the same by incorporating the Motown sound. Just look at the Motown influence on those other Detroit rockers: the MC5.

Interesting stuff - everything old is new again.

Sent by Andrew | 1:51 PM | 2-15-2008

I think the cartoon intro music to George of the jungle also has that beat if my childhood memory serves me well

Sent by terry | 10:26 AM | 2-17-2008

Part-Time Lover by Stevie Wonder

Sent by will | 6:01 PM | 2-21-2008

Valerie - Mark Ronson (feat Amy Winehouse)
Don't Get Me Wrong - The Pretenders
This Charming Man - The Smiths
Tiger Feet - Mud

Sent by Steve Berry | 6:38 AM | 4-29-2008

This is a mashup waiting to happen.

Sent by Stirling | 12:20 PM | 8-5-2008