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Record Machine: Hunky Dory by David Bowie

Did you miss me last week? Let’s pretend that you did. While traipsing around the Northwest US on a working-vacation, I bought myself a stack of records — the most exciting of which is David Bowie’s Hunky Dory for a mere $8. I don’t need a pristine sleeve, so as long as the vinyl itself is in good condition. Take that, $20 Record Store Day reissues!

David Bowie - Hunky Dory (cover)

During my Alphabet Soup project almost two years ago, I talked about Bowie’s song “Queen Bitch,” saying that I should really get my hands on Hunky Dory because “David Bowie Record Dance Parties always need more material.” The sentiment stands!

First up, I need to talk about a reference that it took me, oh, 20 years to understand. I’ve now properly listened to the lyrics to “Life on Mars,” and I noticed the following lines:

Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow
Now the workers
have struck for fame
‘Cause Lennon’s on sale again

(Side notes: Let us acknowledge that this song is from 1971 and it has a music video. Also, the video serves as proof that he does not have two-different colored eyes, but rather a permanently enlarged pupil in one eye.)

Nineties teen girls, let us rewind back to 1994, and the time of Bush’s “Everything Zen, which contains the words:

Minnie Mouse has grown up a cow
Dave’s on sale again

Look, no one ever said I was on top of everything, all right? One can love David Bowie, and love the album Sixteen Stone, and still take over half of one’s life to notice songwriting references. I’m sure I’m not alone. Tell me I’m not alone.

Moving on!

Hunky Dory is also the album from which “Changes” comes. It is a glaring omission that I did not include the song in Alphabet Soup: The Letter C.

The pounding piano, the sax, the strings, the big chorus — It might be one the best songs ever.

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware
of what they’re going through

Thing is, Bowie’s never one to only watch culture change. Always so far ahead of everyone else, he can do exactly what inspires him and see who follows. He is not at the mercy of culture — he inspires it.

If you are wondering what older Bowie album you might finally buy, start here.

David Bowie - Hunky Dory (back cover)
“I played some guitar, the saxophones and the less complicated piano-parts (inability).”

Side One

Changes
Oh! You Pretty Things
Eight Line Poem
Life on Mars?
Kooks
Quicksand

Side Two

Fill Your Heart
Andy Warhol
Song For Bob Dylan
Queen Bitch
The Bewlay Brothers

 

 

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the editor of Electric City Creative.

10 thoughts on “Record Machine: Hunky Dory by David Bowie”

      1. It’s a personal favorite, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a bad cover of it. It’s a transcendent song.

        I’ve been mulling around a ‘spiders from mars’ tattoo as a Bowie tribute for a couple of years, but I’ve never quite gotten a design I liked.

    1. Yeah, it took me forever too because I’ve noticed that I get a teensy bit snobby and want to have the “old” version and not some reissue. (But also frugal because the original issued ones are usually cheaper) 180 gram vinyl is pretty and nice and all, but there’s something about that old record sleeve smell.

      And back in the days of expensive CDs, I bought Bowie’s Live in Philadelphia (which I talked about a few months ago) in its original form because $25 double albums were much better in $8 vinyl form. Now I just need to get my mitts on a turntuble that can make me some mp3s for a more portable version. I like having both.

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