"Panic in Detroit" as written by and David ...
He looked a lot like Che Guevara, drove a diesel van
Kept his gun in quiet seclusion, such a humble man
The only survivor of the National People's Gang
Panic in Detroit, I asked for an autograph
He wanted to stay home, I wish someone would phone
Panic in Detroit

He laughed at accidental sirens that broke the evening gloom
The police had warned of repercussions
They followed none too soon
A trickle of strangers were all that were left alive
Panic in Detroit, I asked for an autograph
He wanted to stay home, I wish someone would phone
Panic in Detroit

Putting on some clothes I made my way to school
And I found my teacher crouching in his overalls
I screamed and ran to smash my favorite slot machine
And jumped the silent cars that slept at traffic lights

Having scored a trillion dollars, made a run back home
Found him slumped across the table a gun and me alone
I ran to the window looked for a plane or two
Panic in Detroit he'd left me an autograph
Let me collect dust I wish someone would phone
Panic in Detroit
Panic in Detroit
Panic in Detroit

Lyrics submitted by saturnine

"Panic in Detroit" as written by David Bowie


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Panic in Detroit song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentI agree, a brilliant apocolypic song. Guitar and drums are relentless, and I love the imagery of the lyrics. Plus, Bowie follows Chekhov's dictum, that if you introduce a gun in the first act, you must fire it by the third act.
    joebarninon January 27, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe person that "looked a lot like Che Guevara" was based upon a real person.

    "I know why I associated with that character. It was somebody I used to go to school with who ended up as a very big drugs dealer down in South America and who flew to one of the shows and reintroduced himself. And I said 'I don't believe it. Is that who you are now?' "
    marquiceriseon February 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSo many images brought to mind by this. Drug dealers, riots, crime, people dying in the street. And Bowie makes it all sound so cool.
    Bonehead XLon June 02, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is great, I can listen to it all nite on repeat. and by the end I still don't have a headache and the words aren't just average mumbles as a song on repeat would usually come to my ears as.
    FastFallerSkyon December 14, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLike "Five Years", "Fiture Legend", "Diamond Dogs" another song that could've been part of the soundtrack for Omega Man.

    It R o c k s!
    coo2kachooon April 07, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWritten in early 1970's in Detroit about the 1967 riots. Take it from me, he saw the same burned out buildings along Grand River Ave. in Detroit as I saw in the early 70's. Aladdin Sane has a city associated with each song (check the CD or album liner) and this one was from Detroit. He captured the essence of the city after the riots very well. Great song.
    Motown1on August 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentchristian death made a great version of this song!
    ~Justine~on February 23, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm FROM the Detroit area, was vacationing in Canada during the riots-which the media acted like were only on Twelfth Street. Twelfth was a slum by then anyway, Grand River a major commerical district.
    drpoundsignon April 02, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI bet he was there in the winter and heard all the silent screams of the people dieing from exposure to the city its self.
    elwoood13on March 09, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe David Live version is straight Epic!
    ziggytwigon April 21, 2016   Link

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