Feb 28 2010

Life On Mars #14

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?

This is my take on David Bowie’s Life On Mars, which was apparently a parody of Frank Sinatra’s My Way, which was the English translation of a French song Comme d’habitude, by Paul Anka…

The song strongly resembles Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” – it has identical chords – and with good reason. Back in 1968 Bowie had written English lyrics for a French song called “Comme, D’Habitude”, calling his version “Even A Fool Learns To Love”. It was never released, but soon afterwards Canadian songwriter Paul Anka heard the original version, bought the rights and rewrote it as “My Way”. Bowie recorded “Life On Mars?” as a Sinatra parody in anger at having missed out on a fortune, although the Hunky Dory liner notes state that the song was merely “inspired by Frankie”.
Otherwise it couldn’t be much more different from “My Way”. A slew of surreal images – “Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow” etc – are combined with Bowie’s operatic delivery, string arrangements by Mick Ronson and piano thrills from Rick Wakeman to ensure this is one of the oddest hit singles ever.

I’m Casey Kasem, and you’re listening to American Top 40.
Another all digital piece.

Photo credits:
GirlJohn Marcotte
MouseCarlos Paes
RocketCliff Howard
EnginesMike Gieson
TheaterWeatherbox
TextureNaama y.m.
LeninPaal Gladso
“Helter Skelter” - Joanna Atkinson
Movie Projector - Jascha Hoste