The song I want to tell you about is called Life On Mars?. It’s by singer-songwriter and actor David Bowie, born and raised in south London. It was released in 1973 as a single on his fourth album, Hunky Dory, which is probably my favourite.
When I first heard David Bowie’s music
The first time I heard a song by David Bowie was on a TV programme during my teenage years. To be honest, at that moment I thought that his music was boring, maybe because I was used to listening to more commercial genres, but then I just couldn’t imagine how mistaken I was!
Then, when I was 18 years old, one evening I rented a film in a video shop. Its cover had caught my eye from the start. It was a British drama called Velvet Goldmine, named after a Bowie song from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. It’s set in Britain during the glam rock days of the early 1970s; it tells the story of the fictional pop star Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a bisexual icon patterned after David Bowie and Marc Bolan. The character’s story has many similarities with Bowie’s life and some of the other characters are based on Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Angie (Bowie’s first wife) and Oscar Wilde.
Why it is important to me. What makes it special
After watching the film, I became obsessed with glam rock and, particularly, Bowie and his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Life On Mars? became my favourite song of all time and today, after more than a decade, it’s still the most special for me. It’s a post-modern critique of pop culture and the idea of escapism through entertainment. Its lyrics are full of metaphors, which make it ambiguous and confusing, and that’s probably why I love this song so much.
What I think when I listen to it
For me, it’s really hard to listen to Life On Mars?, because it brings back memories from a very wild and difficult time of my life, so I never do it when I feel sad or nostalgic. When I’m not and I feel capable of listening to his music, an amalgam of disparate thoughts usually start bombing my mind.
I will always remember the morning when I heard the news that Bowie had passed away. Tears came suddenly to my eyes and I had a lump in my throat all day long.
Today, Life On Mars? is considered to be one of the greatest songs in the history of music, and David Bowie will always play an important role in my life. He has somehow shaped my personality and, therefore, he has influenced who I am today.