Released: 4th April 1984
Recorded: Rockfield Studios, Monmouth, Wales, Mar-Apr 1984. Mixed at Eel Pie, Twickenham, April 1984
Producer: John Brand
Label: Beggars Banquet
* UK promo poster
* UK press release sheet
* UK advert
IA: That’s paraphrasing a Native American prayer song that some anthropologist deciphered, a traditional song. I’d taken some of that and melded it with… maybe Buffy Sainte-Marie’s song “Starwalker.” That’s probably where the title came from, because I remember listening to Buffy Sainte-Marie at that time, and it was just so exotic and otherworldly. She was very present when she sang, and I felt very connected to her voice and her music. It had such incredible dignity, and it was so different from everything else we were hearing, where it was distorted and angular and violent and dark, and here was this voice with an angelic quality. I think that was part of the liberation and breaking through, and probably the optimism that went into things like “She Sells Sanctuary.” We found that optimism, but we had to dig for it. We had to dig for those jewels.
All around us, everybody seemed to be doing heroin if they could afford it, and if they couldn’t afford it, they’d be getting whatever they could get their hands on. It seemed like everybody I knew was high. But not in a very cool way. [Laughs.] Not in a bohemian manner. It was more like people wanted to disappear from the environment that we were surrounded by. But I went in a different direction. I went into books and music and film. I remember going to see American Indian Movement leader Russell Means speak on a lecture tour in the early ’80s. Twice, actually. When he came through the UK, he was trying to solicit support of European students for the American Indian Movement, and I found him to be an enigmatic speaker but very inspiring. Floyd Westerman was another guy who was an American Indian activist and folk singer. In fact, you’d probably recognize him from The Doors, where he played the shaman. It’s strange that he gave this dramatic portrayal as a shamanic influence in Oliver Stone’s film because he was a real mentor for me in my life. He was a holy man in real life. I had a sweat ceremony with him, which was very powerful, though that was a little bit later.
“Spiritwalker” really came out of a spiritual quest, although I wasn’t even really conscious of it. I wasn’t objectifying myself or thinking about what my process was. I just found myself being drawn toward certain energies and performers. I pulled information from them, and it came out in my writing. My writing at that time was just so naïve. I didn’t even finish school properly. I didn’t have a command of language. Sometimes my writing could be very simplistic. But I thought it was earnest, and it was authentic. I wasn’t trying to be clever or show off in any way. I was just being honest.
(from The AV Club interview w/ Ian Astbury - jun 7, 2012)
No "official" music video was recorded for the song "Spiritwalker". When the group released the music video collection Pure Cult: The Singles 1984-1995 (the companion to the Pure Cult: The Singles 1984–1995 album) their live performance of "Spiritwalker" on The Tube was included in place of a "proper" music video. The performance is one of notoriety as it was broadcast live on 13 January 1984 (Friday the 13th of all days) and announcer Jools Holland introduced the group as "...just now The Cult". The group, prior to the performance, had decided to change its name from Death Cult to simply The Cult.