Sorrow (The McCoys song)

"Sorrow" is a song first recorded by the McCoys in 1965 and released as the B-side to their cover of "Fever". It became a big hit in the United Kingdom in a version by the Merseys, reaching number 4 on the UK chart on 28 April 1966.[1] A version by David Bowie charted worldwide in 1973.

Sorrow by the McCoys US vinyl single.png
Single by The McCoys
from the album Hang On Sloopy
ReleasedOctober 1965
GenreFolk rock
LabelBang 511
Songwriter(s)Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, Richard Gottehrer
Producer(s)Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, Richard Gottehrer
The McCoys singles chronology
"Hang On Sloopy"
"Sorrow" / "Fever"
"Up and Down"

A line from the song – "With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue" – is used in the Beatles song "It's All Too Much" which was featured on their 1969 album Yellow Submarine.

The Merseys versionEdit

Single by The Merseys
B-side"Some Other Day"
ReleasedApril 1966
GenrePop rock
LabelFontana 694
Songwriter(s)Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, Richard Gottehrer
Producer(s)Kit Lambert
The Merseys singles chronology
"So Sad About Us"

The Merseys' version is more up-tempo than the McCoys' folk-rock original. Propelled by Clem Cattini's drumming it features a powerful horn arrangement (most probably the work of John Paul Jones[citation needed]). The horns also take the solo which, on the McCoys version, is performed on harmonica. As the number and quality of subsequent covers demonstrate, the Merseys' single was highly regarded among British musicians.


Chart (1966) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[2] 7
UK Singles (OCC)[3] 4

David Bowie versionEdit

Single by David Bowie
from the album Pin Ups
B-side"Amsterdam" (Brel, Shuman)
Released28 September 1973
RecordedJuly 1973
StudioChâteau d'Hérouville, Hérouville, France
Songwriter(s)Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, Richard Gottehrer
Producer(s)Ken Scott, David Bowie
David Bowie singles chronology
"Life on Mars?"
"Rebel Rebel"
Official audio"Sorrow" (2015 Remaster) on YouTube

David Bowie's remake of "Sorrow", recorded in July 1973 at Château d'Hérouville, Hérouville, France, was the only single released in the UK from his Pin Ups covers album, reaching No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart, and staying in the charts for 15 weeks.[4] It was also Bowie's first number one hit single in Australia, where it topped the charts for two weeks in February 1974.[5]

The B-side, “Amsterdam”, was a cover of a Jacques Brel song, that had been performed live by Bowie since 1968. The song may have been recorded by Bowie in the summer 1973 sessions for Pin Ups[6] or in late 1971[7] for the album Ziggy Stardust. Never selected as an album track, it was used as the single B-side as it fitted with "Sorrow". In France, it was billed as the A-side of the single.

"Sorrow" was featured in the 2008 John Cusack film War, Inc. In 2017 Paul Shaffer and Jenny Lewis released a cover version based mainly on Bowie's version.[8]

Track listingEdit

  1. "Sorrow" (Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, Richard Gottehrer) – 2:53
  2. "Amsterdam" (Jacques Brel, Mort Shuman) – 2:39

The Spanish release of the single had "Lady Grinning Soul" as the B-side.



Chart (1973–74) Peak
Australia (Go-Set)[9] 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[10] 7
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[11] 77
French Singles Chart[citation needed] 7
Ireland (IRMA)[12] 2
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[13] 29
New Zealand (Listener Chart)[14] 1
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[15] 1
UK Singles (OCC)[16] 3
West Germany (Official German Charts)[17] 39

Other releasesEdit


  1. ^ The Merseys, "Sorrow" chart position Retrieved 20 June 2015
  2. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Merseys". Irish Singles Chart.
  3. ^ "Merseys: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  4. ^ David Bowie, "Sorrow" chart position Retrieved 20 June 2015
  5. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  6. ^ Kevin Cann (2010). Any Day Now – David Bowie: The London Years: 1947–1974: p. 311
  7. ^ Chris O'Leary (2015). Rebel Rebel: p.496
  8. ^ "New Music: Jenny Lewis and Paul Shaffer Cover David Bowie’s Version of the McCoys’ 'Sorrow'", Spin, 6 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Go-Set Australian charts - 23 February 1974".
  10. ^ "David Bowie – Sorrow" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  11. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4944." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  12. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Sorrow". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  13. ^ "David Bowie – Sorrow" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  14. ^ "David Bowie (search)". Flavour of New Zealand.
  15. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989".
  16. ^ "David Bowie: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  17. ^ " – David Bowie – Sorrow". GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 12 September 2020.

Pegg, Nicholas, The Complete David Bowie, Reynolds & Hearn Ltd, 2000, ISBN 1-903111-14-5