[ ]   [ ]   [ ]                        [ ]      [ ]   [ ]
David Bowie — Life on Mars?
Album: Hunky Dory
Avg rating:
8.3

Your rating:
Total ratings: 5295









Released: 1971
Length: 3:45
Plays (last 30 days): 2
It's a god-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling, "No!"
And her daddy has told her to go
But her friend is nowhere to be seen
Now she walks through her sunken dream
To the seat with the clearest view
And she's hooked to the silver screen
But the film is a saddening bore
For she's lived it ten times or more
She could spit in the eyes of fools
As they ask her to focus on

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man! Look at those cavemen go
It's the freakiest show
Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know
He's in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

It's on America's tortured brow
That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow
Now the workers have struck for fame
Because Lennon's on sale again
See the mice in their million hordes
From Ibeza to the Norfolk Broads
Rule Britannia is out of bounds
To my mother, my dog, and clowns
But the film is a saddening bore
Because I wrote it ten times or more
It's about to be writ again
As I ask you to focus on

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man! Look at those cavemen go
It's the freakiest show
Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know
He's in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?
Comments (594)add comment
You are knocking it out of the park tonight!  Thank you for playing this wonderful tune!
1971!?! Way ahead....
 stevesaw wrote:

I love the quick double beat on the drum. I'm sure there's a name for it.


It's probably a flam.
I love the quick double beat on the drum. I'm sure there's a name for it.
Bowie.
Forever loved.
Forever missed.
 linden wrote:
The wonderful Rick Wakeman.


The often completely drunk, completely egomaniacal, always cape wearing fantastic Rick Wakeman
Rick Wakeman in piano/keyboards. Excellent. 
Music just does not get any better than this imo.
 lily34 wrote:


i especially enjoy the piano on this track.

The wonderful Rick Wakeman.

This album meant everything to me when I was 14 years old.
It was like I had suddenly woke up musically.
I loved this guy.
for some reason this has become one of my very fav bowie songs (and i have many). 

i especially enjoy the piano on this track.
 deniseperry wrote:

Very prescient lyrics. Written in 1971, apparently. “The lawman beating up the wrong guy…” America’s … brow & so much more… All foreseen by Bowie.




It was going on long before 1971, and hasn't changed since.
Very prescient lyrics. Written in 1971, apparently. “The lawman beating up the wrong guy…” America’s … brow & so much more… All foreseen by Bowie.
The drums sound almost the same as Elton John's "Benny & The Jets".
 
Apparently not... the "Life On Mars" drummer is Mick Woodmansey, the "Bennie & The Jets" drummer is Nigel Olsson.  It must be the music and the double tracking they're doing on it.
 Steely_D wrote:

My belief/hope is that, just like David Jones killed Ziggy and the Thin White Duke, after his onstage heart attack - David Jones decided to kill David Bowie. 

And so, I like to imagine him - like Bale's Batman - sitting at a nice café table with Iman - drinking a nice cappuccino and enjoying the rest of his life. And more power to him. Thanks for everything.


That was the one scene from the Batman trilogy that made me have something in my eyes 
That should read Lenin, not Lennon in the lyrics.
God how i miss David  but so glad we have this massive back catalogue to worship.  Just been re-watching David live at Glastonbury Festival in 2000 and  morn that fact that i never did see him live.  One of the few artists who could sing live or re-record a track that re-worked the original song but it was equally as good. Amazing talent and innovator.  
That's "Lenin" maybe? Or both...
Hard to believe he's been gone for 7 years.
My belief/hope is that, just like David Jones killed Ziggy and the Thin White Duke, after his onstage heart attack - David Jones decided to kill David Bowie. 

And so, I like to imagine him - like Bale's Batman - sitting at a nice café table with Iman - drinking a nice cappuccino and enjoying the rest of his life. And more power to him. Thanks for everything.
 mdnlsn wrote:
Personally, I think this is a stronger song than Space Oddity. If I had to pick only one Bowie song I could listen to ever again, this would be it.
 
Agreed, this and "Word on a Wing"
 xrdstv wrote:

The plot of the series of the same name is so close to my life living abroad for 15 years. The song literally brings me to tears. Love it...



The series of the same name is so close to my life living abroad for 15 years. The song literally brings me to tears. Love it...
 Proclivities wrote:


but the film
If any lyricist deserved to win the Nobel for literature, it should have been him...
Personally, I think this is a stronger song than Space Oddity. If I had to pick only one Bowie song I could listen to ever again, this would be it.
 xrdstv wrote:

The UK series Life on Mars... ahhh!

This song is in the titles.


With the exception of the very last episode, the US version with Harvey Keitel was pretty good as well :)
The UK series Life on Mars... ahhh!

This song is in the titles.
 ddbz wrote:

Has the RP connecting songs fun followed me to the 'mellow mix'?

Are we connecting Laura Palmer (theme from 'Twin Peaks') to the "girl with the mousy hair"?



HELL GOD BABY DAMN NO!

I recently learned that that line, said by Bowie in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, was actually something Bowie had picked up from his guitarist, Adrian Belew.
‘a saddening bore’ Boy did he get it right!
Has the RP connecting songs fun followed me to the 'mellow mix'?

Are we connecting Laura Palmer (theme from 'Twin Peaks') to the "girl with the mousy hair"?
Great cover also by Jessica Lange in American Horror Story
 Steely_D wrote:

I grok that.


sorry that it took me so long to comment...
but that was a good one, probably only for about 2 listeners, but that's ok.
 steeler wrote:

Musician as sorcerer.


Bowie, perhaps more than anyone I have seen in concert, had the ability to transform an entire audience.  You were someplace else, someplace magical.  He led you through the portal.  



As a frequent Bowie concert attendee, I couldn't describe it any better. It was magical seeing him. I miss him SO much!
the Beatles to this just pure magic. Thanks again Bill
Too much Bowie for any radio station. Too much anything for any radio station stops it effectively being a radio station per se.
 linden wrote:

Please stop being awesome, RP. I'm trying to work here!



Yo también !
Quite the Influencer he was…
just saw Rick Wakeman in concert, "grumpy old man tour."  he was amazing and played this as his encore.  brought the tears to my eyes.  epic piano.  always a 10.
"kid charlemange" was played a little bit ago so between the imagery of that song and this one, I don't think I'll need watch T.V. tonight.

And two tens.
I have decided in my life, every time I hear this song on this internet radio station, I am going to comment.

"this is absolutely in the top ten most effing amazing  'pieces of art'  that has existed in this  beautifully, in-tune, renaissance period that may have peaked in '97,'98??!"

May God Bless 'flight of the concord's'  my favorite band
Having only one life to live (that I know of), I have reserved for myself the right to as many favorite people, possessions, songs, movies, etc., that I want. Right now, this is my favorite song. 
 CyrusPaul wrote:

If you can find an interview with Rick Wakeman, who played piano on this (and Morning Has Broken) listen to him rave about how unique Bowie's chord structure and changes were for this song.  Obviously Richards and Wakeman are both musicians but I'll go with Wakeman's opinion of a musician.


check out the Rockonteurs podcast.  Two wonderful old British rockers who interview equally old rockers.  the episode with Wakeman was fantastic and he talks about this song (as well as a great story about him playing on TRex Bang a Gong).
https://www.rockonteurs.com/
simply the best song with the best piano.  a 10 every time without fail.
Elon Musk’s favourite song

Love that 2001 Space Odyssey drum outro…
 alexandersmcmillan wrote:

I was surprised to read Keith Richards' low opinion of David Bowie - at least regarding his musicianship. To ridicule David Bowie's use of costume and pomp was a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I don't enjoy every David Bowie album, but the majority of them are interesting enough musically to keep me listening.


If you can find an interview with Rick Wakeman, who played piano on this (and Morning Has Broken) listen to him rave about how unique Bowie's chord structure and changes were for this song.  Obviously Richards and Wakeman are both musicians but I'll go with Wakeman's opinion of a musician.
 jonathansteven wrote:

Rick Wakeman?  I just listened to David Bowie.



Famously, Rick Wakeman plays piano on this album.
The little piano outro is the perfect ending to this incredible song.
Absolutely fantastic song
Played as a follow up to the Abbey Road Medley.... absolutely sublime.  Peerless.
I love Bowie so much. You have no idea. As a skinny, SciFi loving, shy kid growing up in the 70s and 80s who didn't quite fit in — Bowie was like a savior for me.
Oh man Bill, gotta disagree about the TV recommendation. Both series are great and they’re so steeped in culture that they don’t necessarily translate perfectly (particularly the UK one to US viewers).
10 - Godlike x infinity!

Someone I follow on Twitter recently asked "what for you is the greatest song ever?"

Looking at the comments, the main criteria people went for were:

 "It has everything" / diversity of instrumentation and structure / great melody / solid message / clever lyrics / tells a story / evokes strong emotions / universal appeal

I thought about this for a few days, and ended up deliberating between Life on Mars? and A Day in the Life (neither of which appeared in the Twitter comments!)

In the end I thought Mars had the edge, because the lyrics are a little cleverer and for me it has a greater range of emotions.

I'm not really much of a Bowie fan, Hunky D is the only album I know in full – maybe I'm even being objective here!

 

My thought process was:

Bo Rhap – No cigar, nonsense lyrics

Happy Together – No cigar, content too light

Joni M.. (take your pick!) – Her songs are the ones that move me most. But no, you really need to 'get her' to get her best songs. Maybe doesn't score on universal appeal?

Day in the Life – maybe.. but covers specific events too personal to the writer?

Long and Winding Road – 'Missing a loved one'.. Theme a bit too narrow?

She's Leaving Home – Yep.. that's the Beatles song that ticks all the boxes. (I was able to feel the parents' pain listening to it aged 10!)


Am I sure there are no contenders outside the Beatles?

Waterloo Sunset – Beautiful melody, but structure a little simple and repetitive.

Hang on.. using that argument Day in the Life has to beat Leaving Home, which is pretty much the same mood all the way through.

Life on Mars? – Why did that suddenly pop into my head?

Let me check the lyrics again.. seems to be saying "Is this all there is to life?" That's a HUGE message!

And the chorus alone is like a mini-symphony – this could be the one!

 

OK let's go back and compare it to our benchmark, Day in the Life:

Well blow me over, DITL is really saying how we oscillate between being immersed in our own little worlds and getting worked up about trivialities in the news - V similar message to Life on Mars!

But Mars is just more of an emotional journey, for me.

 

So there you have it.. analytical science (AKA my brain, hehe!) says Life on Mars wins it.

Well done DB!

and it is more interesting after watching the BBC show...and a spin off. Fun
 bimmerfan739 wrote:

Graphic design without the use of a computer. My young colleagues wouldn't believe it possible.
 
While certainly possible, this is part of an excellent series of songs re-imagined as pulp fiction book covers by artist Todd Alcott, who, alas, almost certainly used digital tools. ;) https://www.etsy.com/shop/Todd...
Brilliant seque from Beatles You Never Give Me/The End
Now with the new NASA Perseverance rover landing on mars this week 2/22/2021 maybe we will know for sure?
Abbey Road side followed by Life on Mars, I had to turn off the radio for a moment!
God I wish there was an 11.
 linden wrote:
Please stop being awesome, RP. I'm trying to work here!
 

Happy Birthday on Mars
This one goes to eleven ♥️
Wow what a beautiful transition
 Proclivities wrote:
 
Graphic design without the use of a computer. My young colleagues wouldn't believe it possible.
Image result for starman animated gif spacex | Animated gif, Riding  helmets, Starman
 meatmike wrote:
Bill! How am I supposed to get anything done?
 

Exactly . . .  I have a conference call now, but don't want to mute this song! 
Absolutely one of my favorites.... Did you know that it's a parody of Sinatra's "My Way?"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/so...
Both the UK and US versions of this TV series are amazing.
Bill! How am I supposed to get anything done?
I was surprised to read Keith Richards' low opinion of David Bowie - at least regarding his musicianship. To ridicule David Bowie's use of costume and pomp was a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I don't enjoy every David Bowie album, but the majority of them are interesting enough musically to keep me listening.
Rick Wakeman?  I just listened to David Bowie.
Rick Wakeman on piano. Check out his wonderful instrumental version on youtube.
Timeless classic,love you man🙏
Still gives me  goosebumps 10+ We lost him too early but what a fantastic legacy he left behind for us.
His best album?
Desert Island top 5. 
You left to soon
I would never come up with lyrics like that Where are you now
Have you ever heard the version by Anggun? Amazingly beautiful.
I was singing this all day yesterday and suddenly it pops up on here...coincidence? David, are you listening from up on Mars?
I absolutely ADORE this song.
 Proclivities wrote:
 
This is an excellent "mock-up" (if that term may be currently used?).  Well done!
Wow.  Is it just me, or does the cover photo make him look like Nicole Kidman?

PS:  I promise I am not intoxicated at the moment.

<edit, three years afterward>  OK, He really doesn't look like Ms Kidman. 
This album is all by itself in the statusphere!
More David. It's a no brainer.
Except that it is cut off when he asks for a glass of water at the very end ...
Arguably his greatest words.  He speaks for every young, tortured soul.
 dancindan wrote:
I beg to differ. This song got me and an old gf together.
 Redpoint wrote:
Not my favourite Bowie track so going to have to give this a 9.
 

This is one of those songs that makes me close my eyes, appreciate every word and note and just say Wow.....
This whole album is so good.
 Tomasni wrote:
Long Live                                                                                                                                      Radio Paradise
Rating to me:                                                                                                                         8 -Most Excellent
 
Glad you love RP.
You might not realize this, but:
1) your formatting looks awful in the player, and
2) if anyone wants to see your rating on a song, they can look it up.  Posting your ratings on the comments seems useless and self-serving only (IMHO).
 steeler wrote:
Musician as sorcerer.


Bowie, perhaps more than anyone I have seen in concert, had the ability to transform an entire audience.  You were someplace else, someplace magical.  He led you through the portal.  

I kinda love this (Bowie fanfic) short story Neil wrote....
 
http://www.neilgaiman.com/Cool_Stuff/Short_Stories/The_Return_of_the_Thin_White_Duke
9 to 10
Brings me to this show, every time...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZOzsIhCPgs
Please stop being awesome, RP. I'm trying to work here!
This one goes to eleven
Simply Fantastic{#Bananapiano}{#Dancingbanana_2}
A pure 10! Godlike!
Thanks for playing the live versions - brings it and David Bowie back to life!
I am ready to cry, overwhelmed by such genius and amazing music, You Never Give Me/The End by the Beatles and now this!  So wonderful to be able to appreciate  - such magic!
"It's on America's tortured brow"
 Redpoint wrote:
Not my favourite Bowie track so going to have to give this a 9.
 
I guess this song will always remind me of the goose bumps on my skin during the spectacular launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy, watching it live on screen in a bar packed with cheering people
 blue-ice wrote:
With every passing day, and this song, among other Bowie songs, being played every other day , every three days, much like Elton John here at RP,  the classics tend to show a bit of wear. It's a good song, but maybe I'm getting old... Maybe I should turn off the music and meditate...

I admit , I have not viewed the play list for Bowie here at RP and I will..  

 
I would suggest both. We are creatures of variety and mood. Always amazed at how I drift away from an artist, rediscover and then say to myself-where did s/he go? Then I remember, it was me, not them. Just waiting to be rediscovered. Praise patience...
LIVE YOU TUBE

After the spectacular lift off of Space X Falcon Heavy yesterday (with part of this song as some theme music), Starman is at the wheel of the Tesla Roadster now zooming through space:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3niFzo5VLI


Yesterday, driving through Santa Monica, stopped at the light and a Tesla pulls up next to me and who should it be? Mr. Wonderful aka Life on Mars Elon Musk.

It was a good day.

Good Dreamin day
With every passing day, and this song, among other Bowie songs, being played every other day , every three days, much like Elton John here at RP,  the classics tend to show a bit of wear. It's a good song, but maybe I'm getting old... Maybe I should turn off the music and meditate...

I admit , I have not viewed the play list for Bowie here at RP and I will..  
 Wardleader wrote:
Love it Love it Love it.
Can this song grow more beautiful with each passing year?  A yearning teen age heart felt this music and still yearns freshly 50 years later.   Only more more deeply felt.

 
As a closeted gay man at the time, I share the yearning with Wardleader. "look at those cavemen..." reassuring words when not much else was for me then. But the whole album was stunning-still tear up when I hear Kooks-would have loved to hear my dad say those things. But he did as good as he could. 
Love it Love it Love it.
Can this song grow more beautiful with each passing year?  A yearning teen age heart felt this music and still yearns freshly 50 years later.   Only more more deeply felt.
 Balthazar50 wrote:

life on Mars is very different today, very quiet! 

 
Yeah, they finally got some headphones and ear-buds up there.  They don't all walk around blasting their boom-boxes anymore.
Absence does make the heart grow fonder.
Bill, would "She's Leaving Home" by The Beatles played before or after this song be RP-vibe-connection worthy?
Anggun's version is much more beautiful - sorry David.
{#Wink} 
Not my favourite Bowie track so going to have to give this a 9.
 Solanus wrote:
It's funny listening to this as I am reading Heinlein's book Stranger In A Strange Land, about a man from Mars.

 
I grok that.
It's funny listening to this as I am reading Heinlein's book Stranger In A Strange Land, about a man from Mars.
9 just didn't do this justice anymore... had to go to 10