Life on Mars? is a song written by David Bowie and included in their album Hunky Dory , released in 1971.

The song is also know as “(Is There) Life on Mars?” had a great success in UK, but is very interesting the main reason that leads Bowie to write Life on Mars.

All start with a french song of 1967 (Comme d’habitude), that David Bowie uses to wrote the lyrics for a new song “Even a Fool Learns to Love” in the late 1968, but don’t release it.

The problem comes when Paul Anka gets the rights for the original french version and uses it to write a new song: My Way.

A song that in 1969 Frank Sinatra uses as main track for the homonym LP.

The success of this version of the music, leads Bowie to write a new song that seems like a parody of Sinatra’s version of the original french song.

Despite this strange and fun story, the main reason of the writing of this song is love. And Bowie describe this song in a simple way:

You fall in love, you write a love song. This is a love song.
Nothing else.

Lyrics

It’s a god-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling “No”
And her daddy has told her to go
But her friend is nowhere to be seen
Now she walks through her sunken dream
To the seat with the clearest view
And she’s hooked to the silver screen
But the film is a saddening bore
For she’s lived it ten times or more
She could spit in the eyes of fools
As they ask her to focus on

 

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man! Look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show
Take a look at the Lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

 

It’s on Amerika’s tortured brow
That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow
Now the workers have struck for fame
‘Cause Lennon’s on sale again
See the mice in their million hordes
From Ibeza to the Norfolk Broads
Rule Britannia is out of bounds
To my mother, my dog, and clowns
But the film is a saddening bore
‘Cause I wrote it ten times or more
It’s about to be writ again
As I ask you to focus on

 

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man! Look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show
Take a look at the Lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

 

Life on Mars? – David Bowie – Meaning

David Bowie describes the meaning of this song in this way:

A sensitive young girl’s reaction to the media

The point of view of a young girl with real emotions and the desire to escape the restrictions of real life.

Simple. And powerfull.

The story start with a strong dialogue between the father and the mother of the girl. The problem is if the right choice is to allow to the girl to go to the movie theater.

The father is the one to tells the girl to go on and to leave the house for the movies.

For me is a simple way to get the house free for some fun with his wife… 🙂

 

But her friend is nowhere to be seen
Now she walks through her sunken dream
To the seat with the clearest view
And she’s hooked to the silver screen

She come to the movie theater, but can’t find her friend.

With a family that fights for everything and a careless friend that leave her alone, the girl’s personal life is revealed as a lonely one.

She would withdraw into a land of fantasy over reality because of that.

Because of her solitude.

The movie theater is where she goes to forget her troubles.

The disappointment that the girl feels with the reality of life. The end of her expectations that sink like boats at the bottom of the seas.

The young girl needs to escape from reality. And the silver screen is perfect for this.

The silver screen is every form of media, television or new entertainment tecnology.

The girl is immediately captured by this screen and sucked into its spectacle, because what’s captivating her is the possibility to escape.

 

But the film is a saddening bore
For she’s lived it ten times or more
She could spit in the eyes of fools
As they ask her to focus on

The girl don’t like the film because it’s boringly predictable and too similar to many others films she’s seen before.

The main problem is with the makers of this films. They would like her to stay interested in the story anyway.

But the problem is another.

The escape don’t works.

The films that yesterday gave excitements, today have becomes routine.

Exactly just like the rest of her life.

 

Is there life on Mars?

The core of the meaning of this song is here. With the great artistic vision of a young, but talented David Bowie.

He asks the question for what it really is:

a sad call for the hope that there is something beyond than what the girl (and maybe everyone of us) knows.

To hope for life on Mars, is to hope that the fantasies of films can be reached.

In some way.

But it’s also asking the fundamental question of the entire song:

we can truly escape from reality?

 

 

Conclusion

The escape from reality is a constant message in the songs created by David Bowie. But the simple way and the original point of view of this song makes a big difference.

Leave a comment or a different vision of the meaning of this song if you want.

 

 

Shares
Share This