Thursday, January 23, 2014

David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust

David Bowie and band perform “Ziggy Stardust” in Paris, France, in 2002. You can compare this version to that of a younger Bowie, by 30 years, in this 1973 rendition here. The song, written by Bowie in 1972, is on the album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars; Rolling Stone ranked the song no. 277 on its 2004 list of  “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

Like “Major Tom” the character of “Ziggy Stardust” is fictional and somewhat based on Vince Taylor, a popular English singer of the 1960s; he is also a composite formed from many real-life rockers, including Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Marc Bolan, Gene Vincent and Jimi Hendrix. The chief point is the rock star’s ascendancy to fame and fortune, and how an arrogant belief in his talents overtakes him.

Bowie himself plays the part of this figure and of the glamorous life of the rock star and how it can consume the individual, particularly when ego becomes dominant. It also leads to changes from the way things were planned, notably when one rises above the band-mates. Instead of a victorious messianic figure, he becomes a “leper messiah,“ unwanted and unloved. But, man, how he can play guitar, the thing that made him famous in the first place.

Making love with his ego Ziggy sucked up into his mind/Like a leper messiah/When the kids had killed the man/I had to break up the band

Ziggy Stardust
by David Bowie

Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Wierd and Gilly,
And The Spiders from Mars.
He played it left hand, but made it too far,
Became the special man,
Then we were Ziggy's Band.

Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo
Like some cat from Japan, he could lick 'em by smiling
He could leave 'em to hang
Here came on so loaded man, well hung and snow white tan.

So where were the spiders while the fly tried to break our balls?
Just the beer light to guide us.
So we bitched about his fans and should we crush his sweet hands?

Ziggy played for time, jiving us that we were Voodoo
The kids was just crass,
He was the naz
With God given ass
He took it all too far
But boy could he play guitar.

Making love with his ego Ziggy sucked up into his mind
Like a leper messiah
When the kids had killed the man
I had to break up the band

Ziggy played guitar