Originally Day 181, July 12, 2016
I still think of this song as a young Bowie trying to write a Bob Dylan song. Bowie himself would grow comfortable with obscure lyrics, but these, along with the folky arrangement, sound more Dylanesque than “cut-up technique.” And as if the song is not derivative enough, Bowie does a Marc Bolan yodel late in the song (it’s somewhat interesting that Dylan is still performing, Bowie is dead and Bolan is both dead and almost forgotten).
I’ve read that Bowie may have been inspired in part by how he felt around his girlfriend-of-legend, Hermoine Farthingale, which is to say out of place and insecure. Maybe, but if that’s where he started, he ended in a more abstract place.
Despite all that, I have always liked the sound of this song, and the high-pitched, nasal sound of Bowie singing it.
What I originally wrote:
At best, this song was influenced by young Bowie’s conception of Bob Dylan; at worst Bowie was just trying to imitate Dylan. Soon enough Bowie would master the use of obscure and confusing lyrics in his own way, but these ones feel more than a little affected. That said, I have always found the song to be pleasant. Unlike his very early work, I will put on the Space Oddity album and listen to it straight through without really thinking too much about whether Bowie had as yet reached maturity as an artist. This brings me back to the fundamental reason I like Bowie music: because of how it sounds. Album: Space Oddity.