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Cranky’s “David Bowie Cries for No One” (2008)

Full disclosure: Chat GBT alerted me to this song. I previously had never heard of the song or the band, Cranky. I also can’t find a lyric sheet, but I’ll get to that.

Unlike, say, Phish’s “David Bowie,” which mentions Bowie’s name but really has nothing to do with Bowie, this song references multiple Bowie songs. Without access to a lyric sheet and having listened to it only twice, I picked up references to Diamond Dogs; Pretty Pink Rose; Scream Like a Baby; Fame; Aladdin Sane; Golden Years; Panic in Detroit; Kooks; Hang on ton Yourself; Quicksand; Drive in Saturday and the Prettiest Star. There easily could be a few references I missed. Yet, despite all that, and despite the refrain, “David Bowie cries for no one” (sung in an imitation Bowie voice), I don’t think to song is actually about David Bowie.

The song seems to be about a girl with grandiose ambitions but whose life falls short. Its looks she’s living in a Bowie song, but that nobody has any sympathy for her. This is out on a limb, but it’s almost as if Bowie is the composer of this girl’s experience, like she’s the girl with the mousey hair in “Life on Mars?” trying to escape from the harshness of her real life through entertainment. But if Bowie is a kind of god-figure, he’s a detached god who doesn’t have any empathy for his character.

I don’t think the song is actually suggesting that Bowie is god, but that this girl is seeing her own experience through a Bowie-lens (which I can appreciate), and that Bowie isn’t actually there writing her story out for her with a happy ending or not.

Incidentally, I went back to Chat GBT to ask the meaning of “cries for no one,” and Chat suggested that the phrase suggests that someone is crying out for help, but nobody hears the cries. I don’t think that exactly works in the song— despite all the Bowie references, the person of David Bowie is not really what the song is about. That said, the girl who seems to be at the center of the song, might be crying out to her imagined Bowie, but he’s not there to hear her.

OK, I’m reading more into the song than the song is giving to me, but that’s my best explanation for what’s happening.

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