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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)

Singles: Starman

Time: 4:16

Background

"Starman" is the fifth song on THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS (1972).  While issued as the album's very first single, the song itself was a late entry to the Ziggy album having been written and recorded at Trident Studios in January 1972 and only finally replacing Chuck Berry's "Round and Round" in either February or March 1972. 

"Someone, I do not know if it was Bowie, DeFries or RCA decided that there was no single and so we went back into Trident, my home away from home, to record the first single. All other songs on the album except of course "It Ain't Easy" were recorded during the 2 weeks of sessions [in November 1971]". - Ken Scott

According to some sources - it was RCA's Dennis Katz who insisted strongly that Starman be added to the Ziggy Stardust album. "Starman" was released on the 28th April 1972 (some have reported 14 April) with the US single having a slightly different edit compared to the UK's and over 10 seconds removed from the fade-out. 

"Starman" was performed live on the 1st UK, 1st US and the Japanese Ziggy Stardust Tours. It was also performed on a couple of Sound + Vision tour dates in 1990 and on 23 June 2000 for Channel 4's TFI Friday show.

To promote the Ziggy Stardust album in 1972, a special BBC recording of "Starman" was broadcast on the Johnnie Walker Show (Broadcast: 5 June 1972 & 6-9 June 1972) and Bowie and the Spiders From Mars performed the song live on the UK TV shows Lift-Off With Ayshea - Starman (Screened: 15 June 1972) and Top Of The Pops - Starman (Screened: 6 July 1972).  Circulating amongst collectors, as a bootleg, is an almost entirely instrumental version of the song (which was auctioned at Sotherbys in 1990) which had been used as the backing track for the television performances of "Starman".

The release of "Starman" & "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars" - includes reviews of "Starman"

At the time Bowie also mentioned "Starman" as originally being slated for a planned (but never completed) bridging album between HUNKY DORY (1971) and THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS (1972). This bridging album was to include the songs "He's A Goldmine", "Bombers", "Starman", "Round & Round" and "Something Happens." Three of these five songs were considered for the Ziggy Stardust album, but only "Starman" was to make it.  However, Ken Scott states that no such album was ever "in the can".

At the Rainbow Theatre concert of 19-20 August 1972 the Starman character was played in mime by Lindsay Kemp. The character also figured in promotional material such as the transferable skin tattoos below.

Analysis

The song "Starman" tells the story of an extraterrestrial contacting the youth of the doomed earth through the medium of radio. The extraterrestrial promises salvation but is weary of his impact on the planet. 

"Starman" can be taken at the immediate level of "There's a Starman in the Sky Saying Boogie Children", but the theme of it is that the idea of things in the sky is really quite human and real and we should be a bit happier about the prospect of meeting people" - Bowie (1972)

"Starman" was the song that Ziggy wrote which inspired people to follow him and it was all a pack of lies but he continued and then he was crushed by his own ego" - Bowie (1974)

"Its a take on Judy Garland....Star.....man" is in fact "Some......where over the Rainbow..." and I just went from there and just took it somewhere else to be.....It became a blueprint for that... Anything I touch always kind of gets perverted out of all recognisable form.   That's half the fun of it. Taking a system and throwing a spanner into it." - Bowie

According to the Ziggy cosmology created by Bowie for the never-staged Ziggy Stardust theatrical show - "Starmen" were the invisible infinites (black-hole jumpers) who, through a dream, tell the human Ziggy Stardust to write of the imminent coming of a Starman to Earth. Ziggy Stardust subsequently writes "Starman" which is the first hope that people have of salvation since the news that the Earth has only five years left. Interestingly, "Starman" neatly predicts the plot of the science fiction movie Close Encounters of The Third Kind (1977).

Recording notes

@ 0:02 seconds there is a slight audio drop in the right channel and @ 0:18 seconds there is missing reverb in the left channel.

 

Starman (Bowie)

Didn't know what time it was, the lights were low
I leaned back on my radio
Some cat was laying down some rock 'n' roll 'lotta soul, he said
Then the loud sound did seem to fade
Came back like a slow voice on a wave of phase
That weren't no DJ that was hazy cosmic jive

There's a Starman waiting in the sky
He'd like to come and meet us
But he thinks he'd blow our minds
There's a Starman waiting in the sky
He's told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it's all worthwhile
He told me:
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie

I had to phone someone so I picked on you
Hey, that's far out so you heard him too
Switch on the TV we may pick him up on channel two
Look out your window, I can see his light
If we can sparkle he may land tonight
Don't tell your poppa or he'll get us locked up in fright

There's a Starman waiting in the sky
He'd like to come and meet us
But he thinks he'd blow our minds
There's a Starman waiting in the sky
He's told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it's all worthwhile
He told me:
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie

Starman waiting in the sky
He'd like to come and meet us
But he thinks he'd blow our minds
There's a Starman waiting in the sky
He's told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it's all worthwhile
He told me:
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie

La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. la , la, la,
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la ...

 

---This page last modified: 05 Feb 2007---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)