Shake The Disease

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Shake The Disease
Song Shake The Disease
By Depeche Mode
Songwriter Martin L. Gore
Produced by Depeche Mode
Daniel Miller
Gareth Jones
Recorded at Hansa Mischraum (Berlin)
Length (mm:ss) 4:48 (7"/single/album version)
3:59 (fade)
8:45 (12" version)
Tempo 116 BPM
Time signature 4
Key D Minor
Recorded March 1985
Originally released 29 April 1985
Live performances as Depeche Mode 385 times *
Total live performances 393 times *

"Shake The Disease" is a song from the 1985 compilation album The Singles 81→85 by Depeche Mode. It was released as a single on 29 April 1985.


"I can't work in England anymore. It's funny. [Hansa studio] is right next to the Berlin Wall but none of us has ever been to the East. Martin tried once but they refused him entry. Didn't like the way he was dressed. Thought he was a hooligan. People imagine we work here because it's wow, you know, really heavy, but I don't feel that. The place is quite suburban. Berlin's like Brixton. [...] Oh, yeah. [The cellar] is a bit weird, innit? I was down here doing the vocals for ‘Shake The Disease’ in the dark, last time we were here, and I was terrified. I had all noises in me headphones like whispers, and apparently sometimes you can see the shadow of a projectionist. It's a bit haunted, this studio."[1]

Dave Gahan - No. 1, February 1986.

Martin Gore in the 1985-08-17 issue of Hitkrant (translated from Dutch):

"The song tells the story of a one-sided relationship between a girl and a boy. They realize that it is as good as over for them. So it's a poignant song, but not real life. Christine [Friedrich, girlfriend] and I are still doing very well. A breakup is definitely out of the question."

Gore explained in the 1989-04-15 issue of Melody Maker:

"Sometimes [the links between songs] are very obvious, there are things like references cos I really like references to other songs. In 'Shake The Disease' there’s a reference to another song. You know it says, Now I've got things to do // and I've said before that I know you have too. And in another song [Stories Of Old] it said, Now I've got things to do // you have too. I really like those kind of references."

Dave Gahan on ITV's show 'No. 73':

"It's basically a love song, and it's really about the problems of not being able to get across what you really mean, in love, when you're actually trying to talk to someone that you, let's say, fancy, you know, you fancy someone at school or whatever and you're trying to talk to them. Sometimes it's very difficult, you know, and that's what it's basically about. And he's trying to shake that disease of not being able to talk to people."

Andrew Fletcher in the July 1985 issue of Popcorn magazine (translated from German):

"We are all in happy relationships, and this song is our thank you to our women, who must not have always had it easy with us. The text deals with the problem of how difficult is to keep a relationship in our situation, because we are so often separated. But we can't write it without a shot of egoism, in our opinion. It is important that you openly state the things that bother you - and that's what 'Shake The Disease' is mostly about."

1985 photograph of Martin Gore with the EMU Emulator II sampler keyboard during the recording of 'Shake The Disease'. Photo by eBay seller magicmomentsug4u, retrieved via Facebook group “Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos”.

Gore says in the commentary track on the DVD of '101' in 2003:

"We really struggled with a title for this song. And it's just a small part from one of the lines of the song. I think it was actually Daniel [Miller] was like, "Oh that line sounds good as a title". It stuck after that. But it was obviously from one of the lines of the song, but all the other lines sounded so bad as titles, [like] 'Understand Me'."

Gore in the 1985-08-17 issue of Hitkrant (translated from Dutch):

"With 'Shake The Disease', we should finally succeed in the States. Our past dance tracks have all hopelessly disappeared. So we thought it was a good idea to attack the U.S. market with this slow, delicate track."

When Depeche Mode was interviewed about the songs on the '101' CD for the April 1989 issue of French magazine 'Best', Fletcher said (translated from French):

"It's one of the songs we've been playing for a long time. Every time I hear it, it reminds me of the music video. I cannot forget the music video. I had to stand on some kind of machine and allow it to drop me to my side. I had no confidence in this device that was supposed to hold me back in my drop. I thought I'd die that day."

Dave Gahan, Alan Wilder, and Andrew Fletcher discussed Shake The Disease in an October 1985 interview with British magazine No. 1:

Dave Gahan: "Another one of those tracks which I think is a great song where we didn't really give it enough in the studio. We were touring and trying to make a record at the same time. It was the first single where we had nothing to do with the mixing."
Andrew Fletcher: "When we came back from America there were loads of things we didn't like about it."
Gahan: "It was crying for a great big chorus but it didn't happen."
Alan Wilder: "It is a great song. [Should] have been a very big hit. It did very well elsewhere."
Wilder: "It was the sort of song you needed to hear a few times."[2]

Martin Gore's 1985 home demo

"Martin Gore 1985 home demos" second generation cassette tape.

'Shake The Disease' is one of several song demos prepared by Martin Gore for the 1986 Black Celebration album. Martin's demo version of 'Shake The Disease' closely resembles the album version in terms of structure and overall sound. The second verse has some differing lyrics compared to the album version.[3] The differences are italicized below:

Some people want to be
Permanently together
Lovers devoted
To each other forever
That's not what I mean
That's not for us
We want a different scene
But when I'm not there
In spirit I'll be there

There are a couple faithfully performed instrumental covers of this demo version. See the entry on the fake and misattributed tracks subpage.

Live versions

This section provides an example of a live version of Shake The Disease from each tour that it was played.


Shake The Disease

I'm not going down on my knees

Begging you to adore me

Can't you see it's misery

And torture for me

When I'm misunderstood

Try as hard as you can

I've tried as hard as I could

To make you see

How important it is for me

Here is a plea

From my heart to you

Nobody knows me

As well as you do

You know how hard it is for me

To shake the disease

That takes hold of my tongue

In situations like these

Understand me

Some people have to be

Permanently together

Lovers devoted

To each other forever

Now I've got things to do

And I've said before

That I know you have too

When I'm not there

In spirit I'll be there

Here is a plea

From my heart to you

Nobody knows me

As well as you do

You know how hard it is for me

To shake the disease

That takes hold of my tongue

In situations like these

Songwriter: Martin L. Gore
Publishing Information: ©1985 Grabbing Hands Music Ltd/EMI Music Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.

Live performances

Main article: Available recordings of "Shake The Disease"
Main article: List of dates where "Shake The Disease" was played

Music video


1981-1985: Dreaming Of MeNew LifeJust Can't Get EnoughSee YouThe Meaning Of LoveLeave In SilenceGet The Balance RightEverything CountsLove In ItselfPeople Are PeopleMaster And ServantBlasphemous RumoursSomebodyShake The DiseaseIt's Called A Heart
1986-1989: StrippedBut Not TonightA Question Of LustA Question Of TimeStrangeloveNever Let Me Down AgainBehind The WheelLittle 15Personal Jesus
1990-1998: Enjoy The SilencePolicy Of TruthWorld In My EyesI Feel YouWalking In My ShoesCondemnationIn Your RoomBarrel Of A GunIt's No GoodHomeUselessOnly When I Lose Myself
2001-2009: Dream OnI Feel LovedFreeloveGoodnight LoversPreciousA Pain That I'm Used ToSuffer WellJohn The RevelatorLilianMartyrWrongPeaceFragile TensionHole To Feed
2013-2017: HeavenSoothe My SoulShould Be HigherWhere's The RevolutionGoing BackwardsCover Me
2023: Ghosts AgainWagging TongueSpeak To Me
1992-1998: Faith HealerDriftingStalkerMissing Piece
2000-2008: Strange HoursJezebelPreyAllelujah
2003-2008: Dirty Sticky FloorsI Need YouBottle LivingHold OnA Little PieceKingdomSaw SomethingDeeper And Deeper
2012-2015: Longest DayTake Me Back HomeAll Of This And NothingShine
1989-2003: CompulsionStardustLoverman
2012: SpockSingle BlipAftermaths
Official releases