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Life on Mars?

Life on Mars?

by Davie Bowie

Life on Mars? Introduction

What do you get when you combine imagery straight from a freak show cinema, a whiff of Marxist class consciousness, an ironic meta-commentary on the creative process, and the melody from Frank Sinatra's crooner classic "My Way"?

Why, you get David Bowie's "Life on Mars," one of the weirdest (and awesomest, if that's even a word) tracks you're ever likely to encounter atop anybody's "Greatest Songs Ever" list. "Look at those cavemen go / It's the freakiest show." Indeed.

About the Song

ArtistDavie Bowie Musician(s)David Bowie (vocals, guitar), Mick Ronson (guitar), Trevor Bolder (bass), Tony Visconti (bass), Mick Woodmansey (drums), Rick Wakeman (piano), Ralph Mace (moog synthesizer).
AlbumHunky Dory
Year1973
LabelRCA Records
Writer(s)David Bowie
Producer(s)Ken Scott
Learn to play: Chords
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Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
What in the world does David Bowie have to do with the history of American labor unions? (Hint: it's got something to do with "Mickey Mouse growing up a cow.") And who's supposed to be going "on sale again," exactly? Lennon (John, of the Beatles) or Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich, of the Bolsheviks)? Is Bowie taking a dig here at the rock n' roll industry or at the failed utopias of Cold War-era Communism?

On the Charts

When released as a single in 1973, the song reached number three on in the UK and stayed on the charts for thirteen weeks.

With the 2006 release of the British television show (now also an American show) "Life on Mars," 33 years after the song's original debut, "Life on Mars?" re-entered the UK charts at #55.

"Life on Mars?" consistently performs well in "Best Songs Ever" lists. Recently, Neil McCormick of the UK's Telegraph declared it the greatest song of all time.

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