David Bowie – Moonage Daydream (1972)
from the album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars”.
I’m not even going to go into specific detail or analysis on the lyrics here. Only Bowie can make nonsense like “you’re squawking like a pink monkey bird
And I’m busting up my brains for the words” sounds like poetry.On the other hand, the tale of the rise and fall of the extra-terrestrial alien turned rock star Ziggy Stardust can be considered sheer poetry as well, I guess. At least as far as pop-culture poetry goes (is there even such a term? If not, then I guess I’ll invent it now).
Taken from the glam rock opera album, this is a pivotal song hinting at the protagonist’s destiny as earth’s messiah and his transformation, which I think best can be described in the second verse:
“Don’t fake it baby, lay the real thing on me
The church of man, love
Is such a holy place to be
Make me baby, make me know you really care”
Lay the real thing on the people, Ziggy, that’s what they want. Just like the teen culture is always searching for a hero of their own, for a wayward soldier to call theirs, a spokesperson of their generation, the people in this saga need Ziggy to come together as everything they need, to hold all the answers they’re looking for. And so he turns into the archetypical rock star myth, and the people follow him blindly:
“Keep your ‘lectric eye on me babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream oh yeah!”
The song’s core, and the most important part of it, aren’t necessarily the lyrics, though brilliant in their own whimsical way they may be; it’s the wonderful guitar work of Bowie’s sidekick Mick Ronson.
From the first BAAAM BAAAM of the intro and Bowie declaring harshly “I’M AN ALLIGATOR!” to the other worldly and blissful outro, with Mick Ronson’s guitar seugueing and merging with the piano and the strings – musically, this is sublime.
The chords are dramatic, from bombast to silence between the verses and the words, and it’s actually rather thrilling when you realize exactly how much emotion and how many different moods this song holds together. I think maybe Bowie himself described the journey that Ronson makes in this song best;
“it started out as a flat line, grew to form a fat megaphone-type shape, and ended in sprays of disassociated and broken lines,”.
I can literally listen to this song OVER and OVER again, just to hear it dissolve into that ending – it’s got to simply put be one of the best outros ever created.
And yeah, let’s not be elitist or snobby about this either. I’ve been a Bowie fan for a long time, and I’ve held this song in high regard as one of his best songs ever, but I’m glad that more and more people are aware of this song’s existence thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy.
I get how annoying it is when young people only know classics from that “one over-hyped summer movie”, but for once, this song actually made some sense in the movie and was absolutely perfect for the scene it was played in. At least to me it was.
Oh, and I just have to include a live version as well: