The song’s legacy

‘Life On Mars?’ is widely recognised as one of David Bowie’s classic songs, and has appeared on many of his compilations including 2014’s Nothing Has Changed and 2016’s Legacy (The Very Best of David Bowie).

Nothing Has Changed was issued in two-disc and three-disc editions. The latter contained Ken Scott’s 2003 remix of ‘Life On Mars?’, which had originally been released in 2013 as a picture disc single.

Legacy contained another remix by Scott, from 2016. This mix stripped the production back to vocals, piano and strings. Mick Rock also re-edited his 1973 footage of Bowie to create a new promotional video. Scott’s remix also appeared on the soundtrack of Brett Morgen’s 2022 film Moonage Daydream.

‘Life On Mars?’ featured in Bowie’s 2015 stage musical Lazarus. It was performed by Sophia Anne Caruso, who also recorded it for the following year’s Original Cast Recording album:

After Bowie’s death in 2016, Rick Wakeman spoke to BBC Radio 2 about his memories of ‘Life On Mars?’, and performed a solo piano version.

I remember leaving there in St Anne’s Court, Trident Studios, and coming home and saying to a couple of friends that I’d met that evening in a local pub that I’d just played on what I considered to be the best song that I’d ever had the privilege to work on.

It had every single ingredient. I mean, the great thing about David was he was a wonderful melody man, but it wasn’t just the melodies; he had great ideas for chord structures, and would always throw in the odd surprise when you were least expecting it. And that’s what was so great about playing his stuff. He’d be teaching you a song and you’d be going along and then suddenly you’d think ‘Oh, I know how this is going to go,’ and then he would change. Very clever guy.

Rick Wakeman
BBC Radio 2
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