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by Phaze Eight (25 March 1998)
Before I begin, I feel I should tell you all about myself, so you understand where I am coming when you read the review. I am a relatively new fan, and I have only owned Ziggy Stardust for about 2 months. But in those 2 months, I've listened to it at least 3 dozen times, and made frequent visits to the "Ziggy Stardust Companion." Needless to say, I wasn't around when Ziggy took the stage, but I think I should serve up my MTV-Generation analysis of Ziggy Stardust anyway. And here it is:
FIVE YEARS: First off, I think Ziggy Stardust is a multi-narrative work. There are a few different speakers throughout the album. Our first speaker appears here. The song is kind of self-explanatory: The world is going to end in five years. I like to think that a comet is heading toward the Earth, mainly because it's the most plausible way the world could end with us knowing exactly when but at the same it being unpreventable. People panic ("a girl my age went off her head, hit some tiny children"), with good reason. The speaker twice complains of a serious pain in his head ("My brain hurt like a warehouse;" "My brain hurts a lot"), which is a rather foreboding sign.
SOUL LOVE: This presents an ironic picture: people are falling in love as the world ends. The song isn't really that key in the overall plot line, but it's a great song. It contains images of death ("she kneels before the grave") and religion.
MOONAGE DAYDREAM: I think this is when Ziggy first appears before us. It opens with a crashing guitar, signifying Ziggy's entrance. The song is a sci-fi fantasy that Ziggy is having up in his spaceship. It could also be part of the message referred to in "Starman."
STARMAN: Our narrator is listening to his radio when it is interrupted by a signal from outer space. It's the Starman, aka Ziggy, revealing himself to the kids. Ziggy becomes the kids' secret, but they can't tell the adults ("Don't tell your papa or he'll have us locked up...").
IT AIN'T EASY: Ziggy becomes the jaded generation's hero, as they sing together "It ain't easy to get to heaven/when you're goin' down." He is their cult hero and their secret.
LADY STARDUST: This song was inspired by Marc Bolan (I think). It describes a singer who is very magnetic, who lures people from the shadows with his "songs/of darkness and dismay." This singer is either (1)a Ziggy precursor, who inspires Ziggy, which makes sense if this song was inspired by Marc Bolan, or (2) it's actually Ziggy, and the speaker is describing Ziggy's golden years when "the band was altogether." Either one is pretty plausible.
STAR: Ziggy decides to cash in on his cult status and become a full blown rock star. He is seduced by fame and money, and just the idea of being a star. And so he decides to "make the transformation as a rock and roll star."
HANG ON TO YOURSELF: Ziggy announces himself to the world ("you're the blessed, we're the spiders from mars"), and lures groupies with his charismatic performance onstage. He is somewhat delusional though, as he sings "She wants my honey not my money." Sure she doesn't.
ZIGGY STARDUST: Sung by the Spiders from Mars and some fans, about Ziggy, at a point after he is gone. The first speaker concedes that Ziggy is a good guitarist, but also realizes that Ziggy went too far. Something of a backlash against Ziggy develops from other members of the scene ("we bitched about his fans, and should we crush his sweet hands?"). Ziggy becomes a Christ-like figure to his fans ("he was the nazz"--as in Nazarene), but becomes too egotistical and is eventually killed by the kids (see below).
SUFFRAGETTE CITY: Ziggy is so girl crazy that he has become obsessed. He denies his friend room at his place because he is saving it for a girl. He is devoting all of his time to his female fans, but is dissing his friends at the same time. He has become corrupted by his own fame.
ROCK N ROLL SUICIDE: This is the most subtle track here. It is told by someone who has aged, someone who has been through what Ziggy has been. Someone dis-illusioned. I think of this as either being someone giving advice to Ziggy about coping with the dangers of being a rock star, or it's Ziggy, sometime in the future, giving advice to a young star.
Now, as for what happened to Ziggy. In "Ziggy Stardust" we learn that the kids have killed him. But why? A few interpretations. One, they mob him out of adoration and hysteria, and rip him to pieces without realizing it. Two, the kids who are jealous of Ziggy and disgusted by his ego ambush and kill him. Third, the kids who were the original fans of Ziggy, the ones who he revealed himself to secretly, are upset that he betrayed him and became a star, so they kill him.
Or, perhaps Ziggy became dis-illusioned with fame, and then faked his death, living in hiding the rest of his years. Of course, this would mean that Ziggy is still out there somewhere...
© Phaze Eight - Phaze8@aol.com
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