1971Released
3:55

Did You Know?

Interesting facts and trivia about Life on Mars? - 2015 Remaster. By Songfacts®.

The lyricism is very abstract, though the basis of this song is about a girl who goes to watch a movie after an argument with her parents. The film ends with the line "Is there life on Mars?" Bowie has labeled the song "a sensitive young girl's reaction to the media" and added, "I think she finds herself disappointed with reality... that although she's living in the doldrums of reality, she's being told that there's a far greater life somewhere, and she's bitterly disappointed that she doesn't have access to it." The lyrics also contain imagery suggesting the futility of man's existence, a topic Bowie used frequently on his early albums.

Bowie came up with this after he was asked to put English lyrics to a French song called "Comme d'habitude." Paul Anka ultimately bought the rights to the original French song and rewrote it in English as "My Way," later made famous by Frank Sinatra. "Life On Mars?" uses practically the same chords as "My Way" and the Hunky Dory linear notes state that the song is "inspired by Frankie."

In 2008, Bowie recalled writing this song to the Mail on Sunday: "This song was so easy. Being young was easy. A really beautiful day in the park, sitting on the steps of the bandstand. 'Sailors bap-bap-bap-bap-baaa-bap.' An anomic (not a 'gnomic') heroine. Middle-class ecstasy. I took a walk to Beckenham High Street to catch a bus to Lewisham to buy shoes and shirts but couldn't get the riff out of my head. Jumped off two stops into the ride and more or less loped back to the house up on Southend Road. Workspace was a big empty room with a chaise lounge; a bargain-price art nouveau screen ('William Morris,' so I told anyone who asked); a huge overflowing freestanding ashtray and a grand piano. Little else. I started working it out on the piano and had the whole lyric and melody finished by late afternoon. Nice. Rick Wakeman [of prog band, Yes] came over a couple of weeks later and embellished the piano part and guitarist Mick Ronson created one of his first and best string parts for this song which now has become something of a fixture in my live shows."

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Song Analysis

Key, BPM (tempo) and time signature of Life on Mars? - 2015 Remaster.
A♯Key
MajorMode
4/4Time Signature
123BPM

Album

The album Life on Mars? - 2015 Remaster is released on.

Released By

The record label that has released Life on Mars? - 2015 Remaster.
Parlophone UK
© 2015 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Co, LLC
℗ 2015 Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Co, LLC under exclusive license to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company

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