Bohemian Like You is a song by American alternative rock band The Dandy Warhols. It was released as a single from the band’s third studio album, Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, in August 2000. On its original release, it failed to reach the Top 40 in the UK, peaking at # 42, even after a year long tour. However, it was re-released in 2001 and, after featuring in a popular Vodafone advertisement, peaked at a much more prominent # 5.
The music video (see above) for the song is controversial and is rarely broadcast on television during the day, since it contains full-frontal male and topless female nudity. However, when played on some music channels, these areas are pixelated.
The video shows the band playing in a karaoke bar while many different people mime to the lyrics of the song. This is intercut with a video accompanying the lyrics on the TV screen at the bar. In this video the scenes correspond with the lyrics.
In the first verse, a guy approaches a young woman who is fixing a car with her friends. They both flirtaously sing the lyrics to each other as a sign of attraction. The guy is so attracted to the woman that he stares at her lower body and then visualizes her naked.
Then the video switches to a waiter while he is serving a group of customers at a table. One of the girls in the group is attracted to the waiter and the two begin to flirt and mime the lyrics to the second verse. She visualizes him naked.
It then turns out that the waiter and the mechanic who was fixing the car live in the same “pad“.
From the lyrics in the third verse, it is likely that the waiter is the mechanic’s ex-boyfriend as the guy she was flirting with earlier is also with her. While the mechanic and her love interest exchange a look, the girl from the restaurant emerges from a curtain wearing a nightgown. She then takes the waiter’s hand and pulls him away.
The video ends with the characters from the video miming the lyrics in the karoke bar along with many other people including a man spinning a hula hoop around his waist.
The song has been featured in movies such as The Replacements, Igby Goes Down, Clockstoppers, Flushed Away, Little Nicky,Foolproof, Delirious, and Man of the Year.
Among the television series it has been featured on are Numb3rs, Six Feet Under, Daria, Fresh Meat, and Chuck.
A very obvious variation of the song is used as the opening theme song for the American version of the game show Cash Cab.
The song was also featured in season 7 of Dancing with the Stars for Cody Linley and Julianne Hough’s tango performance.
For many years it has been the theme music for the BBC Radio phone-in show 6-0-6.
It has also been featured in the PC game Le Mans 24 hours by Infogrames in 2002.
In 2006, a mashup between the song and Horny by Mousse T. was released as the single Horny as a Dandy. It reached # 17 in the UK charts.
Horny as a Dandy :: Mousse T/Dandy Warhols Mash-Up
The song was the subject of a minor controversy in 2011 when British conservative politician Theresa May played the song as she walked from a conference speech. It was initially speculated that the track was Rocks by Primal Scream, who posted a statement on their website condemning her “inappropriate” use of their song, calling her a “legalized bully” and “the enemy”. After discovering the track was his, Dandy Warhols frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor posted a tirade on the band’s official website, writing,
“Why don’t these assholes have right-wing bands make them some right-wing music for their right-wing jerkoff politics? Oh, because right-wing people aren’t creative, visionary, or any fun to be around.”
For many years, the song was also played when a noted Dublin football club, Bohemian F.C., took to the field for matches.
According to the Independent newspaper July 22, 2011, the song was inspired by a girl that Courtney Taylor-Taylor, the Dandy Warhols’ guitarist and principal songwriter, found himself fantasizing about. He recalled how he was idly looking out of his apartment window watching traffic pull up at the lights below.
“An early Eighties BMW 320i with a primer-grey front-left quarter panel stops there with an amazing looking young woman behind the wheel,”
Taylor Taylor said.
“Her elbow was hangin’ out the window at a jaunty angle and her roots were showing. She had a cool tattoo for that time and her face was exquisite.”
A one time car mechanic, the Dandy Warhol found himself desperately daydreaming her car might break down and he could spring to the rescue.
“I sat there willing steam to pour from the hood of her car. I almost gave myself a hernia I was willing so hard.”
As the lights changed and she pulled away, Taylor-Taylor started strumming some chords on his guitar. Then he began to fantasize about what a relationship would be like with the mystery girl, in the shape of a one-sided conversation.
“My silly little brain ran amok with the dream of love and vintage motor malfunctions,” he recalled. “It was only natural to weave it into a song on the spot. I was overwhelmed, ya know?”
His fantasy about the vision of loveliness at the traffic lights became Bohemian Like You.
So, did he ever find out who the car girl was?
“Sadly I never saw her again, although I asked around a lot with my German-car buddies,” said Taylor-Taylor. “One dude told me she was a pastry chef. Needless to say I ate a lot of pastries that week.”
Editor’s Note: My first thought, every single time I hear this song, is “turn it up!” It then starts to remind me of my own early 90’s years living a “bohemian life“, spent around fellow writers, artists, actors, and musicians, in a handful of coffee houses and dive bars with stellar jukeboxes, and too much cigarette smoke. We were all broke, but we thought that all of it, all of what we did with our time, was really living.