We all have one of “those” records. A record to raise your spirits. A record to make you feel less glum. A record that paints the inside of your earholes with delight.
For me, no matter the circumstance, that record is David Bowie’s “The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders Of Mars.”
I was well aware of David Bowie before I ever heard this record in full, thanks to my Mom and her purchases from Columbia House Record Club. One of her records of my was the David Bowie singles collection, “ChangesBowie,” which itself makes a pretty good argument for compilations as great albums.
But with “Ziggy….” I encountered the masterpiece while working in a record store. More than likely, I put it on for the very first time one slow afternoon, while I was working by myself.
This album is gobsmacking from start to finish, but I’m particularly taken with the slow insistent drumbeat at the beginning of the song “Five Years,” which forces you to lean in and prick up your ears.
For the entire creative development of this record, Bowie embodied Ziggy, a space-dreamlike character to the point where his new identity temporarily overtook his life. The clothes and makeup and attitude were all part of his stellar storytelling.
There is something perfectly sequenced about the songs on “Ziggy….” they speak to each other, catapult each other into the next. It’s perfection, from the arrangements of instruments, to the lyrics, which are poetic, naked, in place, in time with the times, yet also shoot listeners into a magical sort of future.
I never tire of playing the album. I must have played it hundreds of time now, and it continues to be a favorite all the way through. It’s a story so well told, I can experience it endlessly with newness, over and over. I’m like a small child with a favorite book insisting “Again.”
Do yourself a favor, put the record on right now. Maybe our needles will be moving in parallel while we listen, sit back and a drink a milkshake, cold and long.
Noah Fence hosts It’s a Nice World To Visit – Punk, Post-Punk, Garage Rock, Psych…A mix of new tracks and old favorites. On Freeform Portland Radio.