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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

My favorite albums: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust

Happy Post-Election Day folks!
So......who was surprised that Obama won? Not me.
And to to be honest, I'd rather him be pres rather than the clueless and transparently oblivious Romney.
True, I'm not 100% okay with ObamaCare coming down the pike, and for those who hate the idea too, but voted for him anyways, now it's your problem too.

I know Obama hasn't accomplished everything he set out out do, but I'll give him this, he was cock-blocked bigger than hell by the Republicans who had a mad-on to vote against any decent thing he was trying to get passed, just to spite him. That's not how things should be done, whether you like the person in charge or not.

I hope(even though I highly doubt it) that a true mending of the parties for the sake of this country. Trust me, like the old saying goes, "a house divided falls", and if these idiotic and petty political parties don't start to come together for the sake of the people of  who elected them, then we're all royally fucked!

Alright, enough about that unpleasant topic called politics.

Today's post is primarily about David Bowie's hit album, 1972's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.

I'll readily admit, I've been on a strong Bowie kick lately, discovering and rediscovering a lot of his classic albums like this one. And I'm telling you, to me they still hold up today. Especially with his songs about disaffected youth, politics, heartache, paranoia, and anything else we fucked humans feel.
Now while I knew some of the songs on this album, like "Moonage Daydream", "Ziggy Stardust", "Suffragette City", and "Starman", and there was still the rest of the album's worth of songs I'd never heard before until recently. And trust when I say, they'll blow your mind as much as they did mine.
So, let's get started, as I'll explain song by song, the whole plot and story behind this classic album.

"Five Years"
The first song on the album starts to tell the you the listener, what's going on. Basically the story, as David Bowie envisioned it, goes like this: It's the far, far future, and the Planet Earth has only 5 years left before everyone and everything on it dies. All around, the usual things such as panic, depression, hate, avarice, and every other human emotion under the sun are going on, keeping most of the population numb or unaware of Earth's imminent destruction.

This is one of those songs I discovered awhile ago, but fell in love with instantly upon hearing it. Bowie just paints such a story with his words, that you're automatically envisioning all this going down. Especially towards the end, where you just hear this desperation in his voice, as he's trying to warn the people that their world's about to die. Sound familiar Superman fans?

Take a listen:

Next up is another classic I recently discovered, and am completely in love with, you know, if its possible to be in love with a song:)

"Soul Love"
Soul Love starts the process of revealing the hero of the story, Ziggy Stardust, and his mission to save Earth. Ziggy's just a normal futuristic teenager in a rock n' roll band, but no one's interested in rock n' roll by that time period. As the album progresses song by song, you start to hear why he's destined to be a cosmic messiah. In fact, the first set of lyrics talks about a messiah-like figure who gave his life for his people, foreshadowing Ziggy's eventual demise.

That was a live version of the song from a 1978 tour in Japan.

"Moonage Daydream"
This song really gets the ball rolling, as it's here that  Ziggy Stardust is transformed into the ultimate rock n' roll star and cosmic messiah, which is necessary for him to spread the message that Earth will be saved by a race of alien beings. So he and his rock n' roll band, The Spiders from Mars, go off and do just that.

I love the way the song starts off with these lyrics with Bowie singing
 "I'm an alligator, I'm a mama-papa coming for you 
I'm the space invader, I'll be a rock 'n' rollin' bitch for you 
Keep your mouth shut, you're squawking like a pink monkey bird 
And I'm busting up my brains for the words 

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!" 



Awesome shit  baby!

"Starman"

The classic Starman is next, as word of the Earth's messiah is spread near and far throughout the world. This song is sung from the perspective of one of Ziggy's recent convert's, not Ziggy himself, as some people used to think. Its this song, maybe more than others, that really drives him the parallels to the stories of Jesus and Superman, with the focus being about a savior coming from the sky. Great song people. Also, on a little bit of interesting trivia note, this song was heavily influenced and inspired by the song "Over the rainbow" from the movie the Wizard of Oz. It's true. Just listen to the chorus and chord progression, and see just how much it basically matches up note for note with this song. Cool huh?

"It ain't easy"
This song was written by singer/songwriter Ron Davies, not David Bowie. But Bowie included this song on the Ziggy album, and I'm glad he did. I really love this one too, as it has that heavy, classic rock n' roll/Blues/Gospel vibe to it. As far as where it fits in the story, that's probably up to the listener to decide, but I personally think it's just one of Ziggy's songs/messages to his growing legion of followers, telling them what they already know about the life being hard, but to keep on going anyhow.

"Lady Stardust"
Originally written about his good friend and fellow legendary Glam rocker Marc T. Bolan(or T.Rex as you might know him) this song was put on the album and used to further illustrate the rise of Ziggy Stardust as his popularity and fame grew in the story. A really, really great song as well.

"Star"


Pretty much continuing with the building up the myth and legend of Ziggy and his band here. We're pretty much hearing from Ziggy's point of view how much he enjoys being a rockstar and all the fame he's achieving. It's pretty much the standard opinion a lot of rock stars no doubt feel, as they're living out their dream, and hey, who'd blame them? Thoud really would be cool!

"Hang onto yourself"

We're getting near the end, and Ziggy's really on a roll. Maybe he subconsciously knows he's near the end of his own journey, as he sings for the kids/people "That you really need to hang on to yourself." Either that or its further inspirational, I'll save-like stuff. Either way, still a rocking song.

"Ziggy Stardust"
If you didn't already know about enough about the man, you will now through this song.
Ziggy's whole biography and hype are laid out for the mainstream world to know, and now there isn't really anybody who doesn't know the about the mythical cosmic rocker. Damn good song that pretty much simplifies what the whole album's about.

"Suffragette City"
Who doesn't know or has already heard this huge classic right? Heavily inspired by Little Richard(like the line "Wham bam, thank you ma'am") and the book A Clockwork Orange, the album's heading towards the end, and Ziggy's almost done with spreading his hopeful message.


Another musical trivia note, I found out that Bowie offered this song for the band Mott the Hoople to record if they'd stay together instead of breaking up(which they did anyway). They went with "All the young dudes" instead, and the rest is music history.

"Rock and roll suicide"

Finally we're at the end of the story, as Ziggy's saviors called The Infinites, show up as intended. They can save the Earth, but in order to fully enter our world(they can't since they're made of anti-matter) they have to use bits and pieces of Ziggy in order do that. So during the course of Ziggy's performance, they literally strip him piece by piece, killing him in the process, so that they can transform and enter our world. Thus Ziggy, like just about every other messiah figure "dies for our sins" and becomes a martyr. Damn good song though, that goes along perfectly with this whole event going down. It's the type of song that goes so perfectly with what's going on, and Ziggy/Bowie sings "You're not alone, you're wonderful!"

I have to say watching that video, especially towards the end, where Bowie puts down the guitar and just goes full out, gave me fucking goosebumps man! He had that crowd in the palm of his hand, loving every minute if it. Now that, that's a true rock star right there:)

The album would go on to sell millions and millions of records, going gold and platinum, as well as inspiring a movie about the Ziggy Stardust tour a year later.

1973 would also see a sort of sequel to Ziggy with Aladdin Sane, which was billed as "Ziggy goes to America." I'll probably highlight that kick-ass album in a future edition, but trust when I say it's just as good as Ziggy.

So as always, I highly recommend you guys out there check out this and other Bowie albums. You never know what you'll wind up liking/loving. Trust me on that;)

Also, you can go to this link, just in case you even more curious about everything I didn't mention or discuss concerning this album:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ziggy_stardust

Have a good one kids!

2 comments:

Dan said...

The best male voice of all time is Bowie. There was a movie about five years ago that I think was about a fan of Ziggy Stardust, though I cant think of it's title.

I am probably more of a regular David Bowie fan then of his Stardust phase, but Starman is an alltime classic. For some reason I always wanted it to square off live with Elton John's Rocketman going verse for verse.

U2 did once with Sunday Bloody Sunday, Tina Turner's Nutbush City Limits and the Beatles Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and it was one of the most amazing songs I've ever heard live.

Dale Bagwell said...

I don't know about all-time, but he's definitely in the top 10. But hey, that's your opinion, own it Dan-0:)

I've really rediscovered a lot of really, really good Bowie tunes, especially from Honky Dory to Aladdin Sane. Damn good hits I can't believe I never stumbled across until now.

Starman vs. Rocketman? Brilliant idea, that would've melted my eyes if those two artists ever did it back in their primes, well Sir Elton's prime; Bowie can still perform at a level he established long ago. Elton and Billy Joel did a version of this though, with dueling songs, so I'm sure that must of being fun to watch.

Personally though, I'd have picked Rocketman in a quick minute if they were in a deathmatch song-wise.
Would have loved to see that U2 concert. They do perform really good Beatles' covers, like Helter Skelter, so always a fan of a good-to great beatles cover.