“Life On Mars?” by David Bowie

Song of the Day

August 18, 2017

Written by David Bowie
Produced by Ken Scott
Recorded at Trident Studios, London, August 1971
Released on the LP Hunky Dory in December 1971

A very elegant yet extremely odd track, “Life on Mars?” actually had its roots in the same 1960s French ballad which evolved into the adult contemporary hit “My Way”. On David Bowie‘s 1971 recording, his melody is accompanied by the virtuoso piano of Rick Wakeman and the string arrangements and contrasting lead guitar of Mick Ronson.

David Bowie 1971

But what really sets this track apart is the lyrical content which delves deep into surreal imagery which ranges from media and movies to interpersonal relationships. In spite of its oddness, the song reached the Top 5 in the UK, spawned television series of the same name on both sides of the Atlantic and has been considered by some as Bowie’s finest composition.

Watch “Life On Mars?”:

Song Lyrics

It’s a God-awful small affair to the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling no and her daddy has told her to go
But her friend is nowhere to be seen, now she walks through her sunken dream
To the seat with the clearest view and she’s hooked to the silver screen

But the film is a saddening bore, for she’s lived it ten times or more
She could spit in the eyes of fools as they ask her to focus on
Sailors fighting in the dance hall, oh man, look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show
Take a look at the lawman beating up the wrong guy
Oh man, wonder if he’ll ever know he’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

It’s on America’s tortured brow that Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow
Now the workers have struck for fame ’cause Lennon’s on sale again
See the mice in their million hordes from Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads
Rule Britannia is out of bounds to my mother, my dog, and clowns

But the film is a saddening bore ’cause I wrote it ten times or more
It’s about to be writ again as I ask you to focus on
Sailors fighting in the dance hall, oh man, look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show
Take a look at the lawman beating up the wrong guy
Oh man, wonder if he’ll ever know he’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

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