On this day 45 years ago there occurred a musical earthquake. Nothing has ever been the quite the same. Yet again, I refer you to the master Bowie analyst Chris O’Leary for his song-by-song commentary. Chris, you are about 10 years younger than me, but given your thoughts on “Moonage Daydream”, how the fuck do you think we felt when we heard this as 11 year olds? We were not quite at the age to have our music: ’50s nostalgia was then more interesting to us than the lingering and dusty late hippiedom of the Stones and Beatles (see “All the Young Dudes“). “Moonage” was the apotheosis of a nostalgic past and an imagined future, purveying an oddly B-movie feel to it, far removed from the grimness of the early ’70s in the UK — and it was as much Ronson’s song as it was Bowie’s.
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
A close second to “Moonage” would be the sexually frenzied blitzkrieg “Suffragette City” (thematically not dissimilar to Zappa’s Bobby Brown) but driven by Ronson’s brutalist Jerry Lee-like piano:
This mellow thighed chick just put my spine out of place
Hey man, my schooldays insane
Hey man, my work’s down the drain
Hey man, well she’s a total blam-blam
She said she had to squeeze it but she then she . . .
There’s only room for one and here she comes, here she comes . . .
Ohhh, wham bam thank you ma’am
A most intriguing track, because of it’s mystical feel, is “Soul Love” which, for me at least, evokes the existentialist Catholicism of Unamuno‘s The Tragic Sense of Life. Chris makes the plausible observation that “Soul Love” may well have been spun out of “Five Years“:
Soul love: the priest that tastes the word and
Told of love: and how my God on high is
All love: though reaching up my loneliness
Evolves, by the blindness that surrounds him
“Star” sewed the seeds and created the template for a ’70s boy to fantasize about rock ‘n roll as a lifestyle. As you rightly say: “The singer sees his friends commit to activism or violence (like Tony, who goes off to fight in Northern Ireland) and decides he’s not cut out for sacrifice. Instead he just wants to be a rock & roll star, which seems easy enough. “So enticing to play the part,” the singer imagines, pouting into the mirror.” I’ve spent all these years puzzling over the “It Ain’t Easy” (you say minor, I say major) curiosity but didn’t ever come up with a plausible explanation until now, thanks to you Chris, as you also did for “Let’s Spend the Night Together“:
It is not surprising that the Heddon Street of ’72 where the cover photos were shot, bears little resemblance to the soulless development that is there now. By the early ’80s the relatively secluded phone box locale had become a well-used urinal over-adorned with graffiti, and if I recall correctly, the red call box was replaced by one of those hideous glass half booths.
To be played at maximum volume