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Life On Mars?

David Bowie

Album Hunky Dory

“Life On Mars?” is the 1971 art rock song from the late English singer-songwriter David Bowie and his fourth studio album “Hunky Dory”. Recorded at Trident in London, “Life On Mars?” was written by Bowie and produced by record producer Ken Scott.

“Life On Mars” was originally released on the 17th December 1971 on the “Hunky Dory” album, and later in June 1973 as a single. According to BBC 2 Radio, Bowie wrote the lyrics “Even a Fool Learns to Love” to the music of the 1967 French song “Comme d’habitude” composed by Claude François and Jacques Revaux. Bowie’s version of the track was never released, but Canadian singer-actor Paul Anka bought the rights to the original French version and turned it into “My Way”, the song that skyrocketed Frank Sinatra to fame in 1969. The success of “My Way”, led Bowie to write “Life On Mars?” as a sort of parody of Sinatra’s recording. In the sixth edition of the book “The Complete David Bowie” by Nicholas Pegg in 2011, Bowie spoke about the song’s meanings twice. Once in 1971, summing the song up as: “a sensitive you girl’s reaction to the media”. However, in 1997 he expanded his thoughts:

“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 music video for “Life On Mars?” was directed by Mick Rock. Filmed in Earl’s Court in London in 1973, the video features Bowie in a turquoise suit in front of a white backdrop, singing the song directly to the camera. Uploaded to Bowie’s YouTube channel in July 2015, the video had a total of  27.7 million views with over 238 thousand likes as of the 1st February 2021.

“Life On Mars?” is certified Gold in both Denmark and Italy, as well as Platinum in the UK.

Read the lyrics to “Life On Mars?” here.

*All information accurate at the time of publishing. 

Added by Tala Woods

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Release Date

17th December 1971 (album), 22nd June 1973 (single)

Songwriter/s

David Bowie

Producers/s

Ken Scott

Label/s

RCA

Chart Rankings

- #67 in Australia - #40 in Belgium - #7 on the Billboard Euro Digital Song Sales Chart - #12 in Finland - #3 in France - #4 in Ireland - #33 in Italy - #95 in the Netherlands - #63 in Portugal - #3 on the UK Singles Chart - #12 on the US Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs Chart - #44 in Sweden - #48 in Switzerland - #39 in West Germany *All chart rankings accurate at the time of publishing.

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