There’s a Starman, waiting in the sky – the lyrics are one of, if not the most, well-known lines from the late David Bowie’s career as a musician. Although an actor, starring in the popular film Labyrinth, he rose to fame as a brilliant artist in the music scene in the mid-60s. Bowie found his true popularity during the 70s through his flamboyant stage personas, sexual undertones, and artful music as society continued in a direction full of free expression. Perhaps his breakthrough album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, was released in 1972.
The album itself can be loosely interpreted as a concept album, an album that tells a story of sorts, but I believe it depends on the listener. You hear what your mind allows you to and with this album, or any of David Bowie’s work, you’ve got to truly sit and listen for it to be understood in the way that feels best for you, the recipient of his musical genius. The album begins with Five Years, an eye-opening tune that speaks of the end of the world nearing. I can’t speak on behalf of what impact that particular song may have had on the generation that heard it when it was released, but from my experience and perception on my own generation; I find it to fit more into a figure of speech than an actual happening. It symbolizes the end of an era in society in today’s time, one that no one can predict nor prepare for. However, the actuality of the song’s purpose was from a dream that Bowie had dreamt in which his father told him he would die in five years. The intensity and honest, yet beautiful, truth becomes more evident as the song goes on up until it ends. It’s an interesting choice for it to be the first song for a perceived concept album, but Bowie was never short of bizarreness.
Another key song on the album aside from the title song, Ziggy Stardust, is Starman. Starman is easily the song that is most familiar to those who know of Bowie, and for good reason. Since the passing of Bowie in January, 2016, the song has become a ballad specifically for the Starman himself. Anytime the tune rings out through speakers, I imagine him peering down upon the earth through the stars, watching over us all in good nature. David Bowie created a genre of music that is still relative to today, despite the shift in culture, and his light will always shine the brightest among the galaxy of stars above us.