Released: 16 June 1972
David Bowie: vocals, acoustic guitar, baritone saxophone, recorder
Mick Ronson: electric guitar, piano
Trevor Bolder: bass guitar, trumpet
Woody Woodmansey: drums
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
Live Santa Monica ’72
Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture
Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles ’74)
Bowie At The Beeb
Nothing Has Changed
The third song on David Bowie’s breakthrough Ziggy Stardust album, ‘Moonage Daydream’ was first recorded and released in 1971 by Bowie’s short-lived band the Arnold Corns.
The song was one of the album’s oldest. It was written during Bowie’s first visit to America in February 1971, and he recorded a solo demo that month at the California home of producer Tom Ayres.
It would be on my list for Desert Island Discs. Ronno played exactly what was needed, his string arrangement is superb, David’s vocals too, everything came together and it works perfectly.
Following the apocalyptic opener ‘Five Years’ and the new dawn of ‘Soul Love’, ‘Moonage Daydream’ gives the album’s first glimpse of Bowie’s star ambition. The song was a tabula rasa onto which his audience could project their ideal idol:
I’m an alligator
I’m a mama-papa coming for you
I’m a space invader
I’ll be a rock ‘n’ rollin’ bitch for you…
The song also unveiled his – or Ziggy’s – new glam persona. Bowie had, of course, dabbled with space imagery since the days of ‘Space Oddity’, yet on ‘Moonage Daydream’ took the sci-fi themes a step further, singing of space invaders, electric eyes, rayguns, space faces. This neatly paved the way for the interstellar hit single ‘Starman’, the next song on the album.
‘Moonage Daydream’ played a pivotal role in the notional concept of the album. It established the theme of star-making and desire for fame, as well as establishing several themes that recurred during Bowie’s songs of the time: Velvet Underground-style slang (“I’ll be a rock ‘n’ rollin’ bitch for you”); Americanisms (“I’m busting up my brains”); and gay sex innuendo (“The church of man, love/Is such a holy place to be”).
The song was cited at various times by bassist Trevor Bolder, drummer Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey, and producer Ken Scott, as their favourite song on the Ziggy Stardust album.
It was a dirty, sexy, rock ‘n’ roll track from the future, and I had to communicate that, so I had to find a beat that not only rocked but was a stable rhythmical pulse that would work even through the far-out sections.
Spider From Mars: My Life With Bowie
Moonage Daydream: The Life And Times Of Ziggy Stardust was the title of a book published in 2002 by Genesis Publications. It was issued in a limited edition of 2,500 copies, written by Bowie and featuring photographs and captions by Mick Rock, both of whom signed each copy.