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Moonage Daydream

Side One: Five Years / Soul Love / Moonage Daydream / Starman / It Ain't Easy
Side Two: Lady Stardust / Star / Hang On To Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Suffragette City / Rock n Roll Suicide

Albums:  The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars (1972), David Live (1974), Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture (1983), Santa Monica '72 (1994), The Man Who Sold The World (1971) (as a Rykodisc bonus track)

Singles: Moonage Daydream

Time: 4:37



Video credit: Bonsai1510
Performed live at the Hammersmith Odeon 3 July 1973.

Completing a three song seque "Moonage Daydream is the third song on the album and was performed live at all Ziggy Stardust concerts in 1972 (where it was sometimes introduced by Bowie as "a song written by Ziggy") and 1973 except the 1st UK Tour. An unreleased video by Mick Rock also accompanied the song on the first UK Ziggy Stardust Tour in 1972.  Its notable for the being the first electric guitar-based song on the album in which the listener is introduced to Mick Ronson's amazing Les Paul playing.

"That was the first video I ever did with David.  It was shot on a Bowlex 16 mm camera in April of 1972.  It was a collage of live footage.  I can't remember is its ever been publicly shown, but I'm sure that at some point in the not-too-distant future it will get seen"- Mick Rock (1998) 

It was also performed by Mick Ronson on his solo tours and by Bowie on the Diamond Dogs tour, the Outside tour, the Earthling tour and David Bowie's fiftieth birthday concert show.  A live version from 13 December 1995 appeared on the "Hallo Spaceboy" single.

The inspiration (according to Bowie) was his friend/brother? also depicted in Hunky Dory's "The Bewlay Brothers."

".... My records were selling and I was being a man in friend came to mind, standing the way we stood in Bewlay Brothers and I wrote "Moonage Daydream."- Bowie (Part of a never completed or fully published autobiography titled THE RETURN OF THE THIN WHITE DUKE - this excerpt featured in Rolling Stone Magazine January 1976) 

An early version of "Moonage Daydream" was originally recorded as the first single for Bowie's Arnold Corns project in April 1971 at London's Radio Luxembourg Studios - this version (on the B&C CB 149 label) has different lyrics and arrangement and also had a "Whenever you are ready" spoken intro (which was dropped for the Rykodisc bonus track release) - see Moonage Daydream - Arnold Corns version)).

Moonage Daydream was later re-recorded in a much superior version at Trident Studios in November 1971 for THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS (1972). A special recording of "Moonage Daydream" was also broadcast on the UK radio show Top Gear (Broadcast: 25 July 1972) one month after the album was released.

Today many people (including Ken Scott, Trevor Bolder & Woody Woodmansey) cite this song as their favourite Ziggy Stardust track.

Moonage Daydream original musical notation (Rainbow Concert)


This song introduces the listener to Ziggy Stardust - the Space Invader/Messiah - who offers rock n roll salvation from the imminent disaster outlined in "Five Years" and a focus for the religious worship evident in "Soul Love."

"A dirty sexy rock & roll track from the future: that was my concept of it when I first heard it. At the time when he wrote it, it sounded pretty far out from anything he had written before. So, the challenge was finding an approach that would fit with the other songs we'd be doing. He'd write on a 12-string guitar mainly, so it always had a little bit of a folky element to it. It would sound like it came from a folk singer, but we knew it wasn't going to come out like a folk song so we would have to figure out how to break it down into a rock & roll context. Those are the things that would go through our heads as a band, and that one was, lyrically, summing up the whole Ziggy thing. You know: 'I'm an alien' and just the atmosphere around it. And when Mick Ronson did his solo on it, that was a new kind of solo. I think he used an echoplex thing, where it sort of went round on a tape machine and kept going and going and then he played on top of it – and it was pretty freaky! Pretty far out to play along with! The whole thing sounded as big as the universe while you were playing, but you had to keep grounded, keep that solid beat going and not be affected. Then when we heard it back it was like 'wow!' It went to the stars, but we still had our feet on the ground." - Woody Woodmansey

Recording notes

* Bowie states that he borrowed the pennywhistle and baritone sax solo in the middle of The Hollywood Argyle's song "Sho Know a lot about love" (Lute,1960) for the solo on "Moonage Daydream." Ken Scott states that Bowie had heard it, loved the sound and made it clear that was what he wanted for "Moonage Daydream."

"The solo in it is a baritone sax and it was supposed to have been a fife but we couldn't find anyone who played fife so I ended up playing penny whistle - so its baritone sax and penny whistle and I got that combination of instruments from the B side of The Hollywood Argyle's "Alley Oop". On the other side was the song "Sho Know a lot about love". And the solo of that was fife and baritone sax and I thought that's the greatest combination of instruments.  Its so ludicrous - you've got this tiny sparrow of a voice on top and a huge grunting pig ox of a thing at the bottom." - Bowie (1997)

* Bowie apparently did not know about the swirling phased strings at the end of the song as they were added by Ken Scott during the mixing stage.

"Ronno's guitar solo, do I really have to tell you how many, or should I say how few, takes it took?  An effect I tend to use a lot is to play with the amount of reverb on a guitar solo. When its low notes I keep it fairly dry and as it gets higher I try and make it soar into space by adding more reverb.  This is a classic exampe of that technique" - Ken Scott

"Another of Mr Ronson's wonderful orchestral arrangements and as the ending madness begins, I phased the strings using the Countryman 967, just to add even more other worldliness" - Ken Scott.

* If you re-arrange the chords to "Moonage Daydream" you will find you can play "Hotel California" by The Eagles with the chorus being identical.

Moonage Daydream = D F# B#m A E G
Hotel California = B#m F# A E G D E
Chorus for both =G D E.

* @ 3:16, 3:20 and 3:23 it sounds like Bowie is saying words like "Terry, Terry, Terry" (reference to his half-brother?). The trick to hearing this is to focus slightly left of center in your head phones.

The best song on the Ziggy Stardust album? 

The Ziggy Stardust Companion ran an online poll on this question from 1999-2001 and in that time 828 fans voted for their favourite track on the album. Only one choice was allowed. "It Ain't Easy" was excluded from the vote as it was a cover. The results showed that "Moonage Daydream" was the most popular track with 20% of the vote, followed by "Starman", "Ziggy Stardust" and "Rock n Roll Suicide" with 14% each. "Lady Stardust" (11%) and "Five Years" (9%) were next most popular. "Soul Love" (6%), "Suffragette City" (5%), "Hang Onto Yourself" (4%) and "Star" (2%) made up the remainder of the total vote.  That "Moonage Daydream" was voted most popular should come as no real surprise.  Both Trevor Bolder and Woody Woodmansey consider it their favourite Ziggy Stardust track and Ken Scott, the co-producer/engineer of the album (see the recording of Ziggy Stardust), also nominated it as his top Ziggy Stardust track. Angie Bowie in the first of her two interviews on this site voted for "Rock n Roll Suicide" which was 2nd equal in the poll.

"My favourite on that [album] was "Moonage Daydream" as far as like ....feeling goes, you know, as far as actually getting something out of the track when you listen to it back" - Mick Woodmansey (1976)

"...I liked "Moonage Daydream." I liked "Ziggy" as well and "Hang Onto Yourself." And one of my real favourites, which we always did as an encore, was "Suffragette City." But "Moonage Daydream", I think, had a lot of feel. I think it had more feel on-stage than it did on the album. When we used to do it on-stage it used to be fantastic. It really used to get the kids going. That would start the kids off. When they wanted to go - we would do that number about four before the end. and that would lift the audience up . I think the audience liked to hear it live. Every night you knew that "Moonage Daydream" was going to be the one that really lifted them. Then we'd go and follow on from there to the end" - Trevor Bolder (1976)

"...I guess "Moonage Daydream" but it's a tough choice." - Ken Scott (1999)



 Moonage Daydream (Bowie)

I'm an alligator, I'm a mama-papa coming for you
I'm the space invader, I'll be a rock 'n' rolling bitch for you
Keep your mouth shut, you're squawking like a pink monkey bird
And I'm busting up my brains for the words

Keep your 'lectric eye on me babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream oh yeah!

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
Make me jump into the air

Keep your 'lectric eye on me babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream oh yeah!

Keep your 'lectric eye on me babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream oooooh!

Keep your 'lectric eye on me babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream oh yeah!

Freak out, far out, in out....


---This page last modified: 14 Jan 2019---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)