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Bowie cover of the week: The Last Shadow Puppets perform “Moonage Daydream”

The Last Shadow Puppets are very much a “real” band, and I’ll link to both their Wikipedia page and their own web page at the end of this post. I had never heard of them before finding this recently posted (but possibly originally older) concert video. As I’ve just learned, Bowie was one of the band’s inspirations for coming together in the first place. Its members, all veterans of other bands, decided to make music in the spirit of Bowie and Scott Walker. “Moonage Daydream” is not their first Bowie cover— they apparently had success with a cover of, “In the Heat of the Morning,” which I will seek out because I’d be interested to see if someone could turn that dud into an entertaining piece of music.

That’s much less of a challenge with “Moonage Daydream,” which here is faithfully performed much as Bowie did it on Ziggy Stardust. Has this song gained a new breath of life because of the 2022 documentary of the same name? Covers seem to be popping up more, and it made many of those top-10 lists I was looking at a few weeks ago. Surely it is a great song, so it deserves any attention it’s getting these days.

Perhaps more than any other Bowie song, “Moonage Daydream” encapsulates the vibe of the early 70s, spaced out, groovy version of Bowie. The song is replete with early 70s jargon and science fiction imagery. Even the name places the song at a particular point in time — the final manned moon landing took place in 1972, so we are more than half a century past the “Moon Age.”

I’ll also take this opportunity to add a little to my current theory of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars— that it actually isn’t an album about a space alien who comes to earth who becomes a rock and roll messiah and then gets killed by his own fans. My current thought is that rather than being about an alien, the album is reaching out to the alienated, which is to say its original intended audience. I think we’re supposed to actually relate to the experiences evoked (rather than explicitly described) by the songs. I’m going to work on this theory, which I’m guessing is not original.

Where does “Moonage Daydream” work in? Within the standard interpretation of the album, this is meant to be an example of a song by Ziggy Stardust — there’s some live version where Bowie introduces it as having been written by Ziggy. We have these others songs about Ziggy and the Spiders establishing that among everything else, they are a musical act. What kind of music? This kind.

In my current way of thinking, this song is actually evocative of the space, dream-like experience of moving through life as an alienated teenager in 1972. This doing is about how we feel. Over time, though, “we” became someone else, and the Moon Age has become more a period in history. Again, I’ll work on this one more later.

Anyway, to read more about the Last Shadow Puppets, click here for their Wikipedia page.

And click here for the band’s web page.

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