Single Stories: INXS, “Original Sin”
Some bands become overnight sensations. Other bands have to work their way up to superstardom. In the case of INXS, it was definitely the latter situation, but although it may technically have been among the minor hits that served as a rung on their ladder to chart-topping success, “Original Sin” is still remembered as one of their greatest singles.
INXS started their recording sessions for THE SWING – the album on which “Original Sin” appears – in September 1983 at Nile Rodgers’ Power Station studio in New York City. It was the first time the band had ever recorded outside of Australia, but it proved to be a memorable experience as well as a successful one. When putting together “Original Sin,” Rodgers called up his friend Daryl Hall and asked him to contribute backing vocals to the chorus of the song, a decision which flummoxed Hall slightly.
“[The band] wanted me to sing on it for some reason,” said Hall, in a 1984 interview on the Australian TV show Sounds. “I don’t know why, because they’re good singers. They didn’t need me. But I did it anyway!”
In a 2012 interview with Adelaide Now, Rodgers discussed the song and how it went through some lyrical changes before they laid it down in the studio…changes which, he suspects, could have cost it some chart success.
“The original lyrics were, 'Dream on white boy / Dream on white girl,’” said Rodgers. “I said, 'Why not make it 'black boy / white girl?' I come from an interracial couple. Psychologically that makes it a bigger statement. Even when I rang up Daryl Hall to sing on it his manager thought it was too controversial. But I think the record would have been bigger had I not talked them into changing the lyrics."
Still, “Original Sin” was hardly a flop: although it only hit #58 on the Billboard Hot 100, it topped the magazine’s Hot Dance Club Songs chart and – shocker! – it topped the charts in Australia.