One of the things that I admired the most about David Bowie was his reflection that he put into his songs as the years passed by. Listening to the lyrics, you can hear him telling stories about his own past and how he has changed through the years. To make such songs and still have them as excellent as they were proves his genius.
I wanted to cite an example of how David Bowie actually used a song to almost predict a future statement for himself. In 1971, David Bowie released his album “Hunky Dory”, and on this album was a beautifully haunting song that in retrospect seemed to indicate what was going to happen in his career. The song was “Life On Mars?” in which Bowie created a scene of loneliness and alienation among the youth of the time. He observed that young people were in need of an escape. The title itself seemed to produce the arrival of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars which occurred less than 2 years later on his next album. Yet, there was something more about the song that has made it timeless. A series of observations, seemingly thrown together that turn out beautifully.
“Life On Mars?” was not a hit at the time the album was released, but it was re-released as a single after the Ziggy phenomenon arrived and became a minor hit then. I found on old video in which Ziggy sings the song in it’s original style, but it seems rather vacant and empty.
As David Bowie matured and lived and learned, his voice deepened and became richer. “Life On Mars?” remained a favorite among Bowie fans, and I found this version of it from 2000. Listening to this version, the song becomes even more beautiful as Bowie slimmed it down to the basics. Judge for yourself
I wouldn’t put it past David Bowie to have planted that seed for Ziggy Stardust in advance of his arrival. If nothing else, David Bowie was a true artist, and his life was indeed his canvas. I hope you enjoy the song as much as I always have. Had Ziggy never come along, this song would still stand the test of time.