Tag Archive: ziggy stardust


#108: “Hunky Dory” by David Bowie

hunky-dory

“There’s a starman waiting in the sky.  He like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds.” — Z. Stardust

I took it pretty hard when David Bowie died back in January.  I responded by listening to Ziggy Stardust pretty much nonstop for weeks.  And of all the albums I’ve “discovered” so far by doing this blog, that one might be my favorite.  I haven’t brought myself to listen to his posthumous release, Blackstar, yet.  I guess I’m saving it for something.  I’m not sure what though.  Maybe I’m just avoiding the finality of it.  But 2016 has sadly been the year of artists passing, with Prince and Leonard Cohen among the musicians, and actors such as Alan Rickman and Gene Wilder.  And just yesterday, Carrie Fisher died.  Haven’t even really processed that one yet.  All of these celebrity deaths, along with the election results, have cast a pallor over 2016, and I hear lots of people just wanting the year to end so they can move on to 2017.  But actually, 2016 was a pretty memorable year for me: I got married, I got promoted, and the Cleveland Cavaliers ended the Land’s championship drought.  As such, despite all the other stuff, I’ll quote Tori Amos and say “well, still pretty good year”.

So I dug into Hunky Dory hoping to hear the same glam rock crunch and sing-a-long bar rock choruses of Ziggy Stardust, but I was actually a bit disappointed.  This precedes Ziggy by a year, and instead features a more art-house piano cabaret style on most of the songs.  There are a few exceptions, like “Changes” (which I reference often in this blog), “Life on Mars?”, and “Queen Bitch”, but for the most part coffee shop style poetry and odes to Andy Warhol and Robert Zimmerman.  I probably built this album up too much in my mind, and I thought it was good, but not great.  I got this in a lot with Ziggy Stardust on ebay for $10 (and I’m not proud to say I gifted the extra disc on Xmas, but hopefully Myoldestniecia is rocking out somewhere to “Suffragette City”).  I wanted this particular edition because it is the out-of-print Rykodisc version with bonus tracks, as opposed to the most recent Parlophone release with no bonus tracks and likely mp3 era remastering issues.  It lacks the lettering on the front cover (weird), but it also lacks a bar code on the back (coolio).

Other lists: “Changes” is #128 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes (ahem): Even the Starman cannot escape the power of Kid A (sounds like a comic book tagline) and drops one spot from its original position at #107.

My favourite track: “Quicksand”

Honourable mention: “Life on Mars?”

Quote: “I’m not a prophet or a stone age man, just a mortal with the potential of a superman.”

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Ziggy Stardust

 

It’s been awhile!  Sorry folks.  Been busy…grad school stuff, attempted career moves, etc.  You know the drill.  But hopefully as summer approaches I will have more time to devote to this blog.  At least I hope I will.

So Ziggy Stardust…David Bowie’s alter ego.  The invention of glam rock, an art form so utterly destroyed by bad 80s hair bands (I’m looking at you Poison.  And Whitesnake.  And White Lion. And any other WhiteAnimalBand) and then briefly resurrected (sort of) by the Guns until it was utterly vanquished by the rise of Seattle rock in the 90s (1991-the year punk broke).  Anyhow, ma soeur gave me this album for my birthday or for Christmas about 10 years ago, and at the time I remember being disappointed because “Space Oddity” wasn’t on it.  So I listened to it once or twice and put it on a shelf where it languished until now.

And hearing this now, I have to admit I missed out on something 10 years ago.  Ziggy is a fun ride, even if there are several different versions of the story floating around (I’m sure Bowie doesn’t mind the ambiguity).  I am struck by the similarity to the Who’s “Tommy” (I have always been a huge fan)…even if Ziggy is an alien instead of a deaf, dumb, and blind kid it is still basically the story of the rise and subsequent destruction of a modern messiah figure.  Well, I guess Tommy doesn’t get ripped to pieces by his adoring fans, but the similarities are still there.  Yet despite the similarities to Tommy, Ziggy stands apart on his own merits.  Bowie’s flamboyance combines perfectly with Mick Ronson’s fat guitar licks to lay the blueprint for an apocalyptic rock opera.  I’m really glad the world didn’t end five years after this was released though…

On a side note, I’ve been a fan of the song “Suffragette City” ever since it was released on the original Rock Band game (I never could 5 star it on excellent though).  And one of my former students who is truly a gifted musician and a self-taught keyboard player was in a cover band with another teacher and they played this song…which was really cool until he shouted the line “Wham bam, thank you ma’am”…that made it a little awkward.

Other lists: “Ziggy Stardust” is #282 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  David Bowie is the #39 Greatest Artist and the #23 Greatest Singer of All Time.  Mick Ronson is listed as the #41 Greatest Guitarist.

My favourite track: “Suffragette City”

Honourable mention: “Lady Stardust”

Quote: “Let the children lose it.  Let the children use it.  Let all the children boogie.”