Happy TUNEBACK TUESDAY! With David Bowie’s passing, the world lost one of our most treasured artists. He was a true chameleon, always evolving and never looking back. To pick just one song of his to look back on is simply impossible. Today I’m going to look back at several of my favourite Bowie tunes as I remember the legend that he is, starting with my first introduction to Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth.
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: June 23, 1986
TRIVIA: The baby noises in the song are actually David Bowie. He didn’t feel the recordings of the real baby sounded good enough. Baby Toby was played by a baby actually named Toby. He’s the son of the movie’s conceptual designer, Brian Froud. The scene consisted of over 48 puppets, 52 puppeteers, and 8 people in goblin costumes.
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: July 11, 1969
TRIVIA: The song is about the launch of Major Tom, a fictional astronaut, and was released during a period of great interest in space flight. The United States’ Apollo 11 mission would launch 5 days later, and would become the first manned moon landing another 5 days later. The lyrics have also been seen to lampoon the British space programme, which had only launched rockets at that time and has never attempted a moon landing.
LIFE ON MARS
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: June 22, 1973
TRIVIA: In 1968 Bowie wrote the lyrics “Even a Fool Learns to Love”, set to the music of a 1967 French song “Comme d’habitude”, composed by Claude François and Jacques Revaux. Bowie’s version was never released, but Paul Anka bought the rights to the original French version, and rewrote it into “My Way”, the song made famous by Frank Sinatra in a 1969 recording on his album of the same name. The success of the Anka version prompted Bowie to write “Life on Mars” as a parody of Sinatra’s recording.
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: September 1983
TRIVIA: Bowie claimed the song was inspired by Little Richard, and it maintains the album’s theme of a struggle between God and man. Some commentators noted the similarities between the track and Elton John’s near-simultaneous hit “I’m Still Standing”, although both parties said the songs were recorded at roughly the same time with no knowledge of the other.
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: January 7, 1972
TRIVIA: Bowie has said that the track “started out as a parody of a nightclub song, a kind of throwaway”. The lyrics focus on the compulsive nature of artistic reinvention and distancing oneself from the rock mainstream.
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: September 23, 1977
TRIVIA: The quotation marks in the title of the song, a deliberate affectation, were designed to impart an ironic quality on the otherwise highly romantic, even triumphant, words and music.
Rest in Peace, David Bowie. The stars look very different today.
See you next Tuesday!