Life On Mars? (3:43)

Cover of The Best Of David Bowie 1969-74

From The Best Of David Bowie 1969-74 and 57 other releases

In 1968, Bowie wrote “Even a Fool Learns to Love”, a song with lyrics by Bowie set to the music of a 1967 French song (“Comme d’habitude”). Bowie’s song was never released, but Paul Anka bought the rights to the original French version, and rewrote it into “My Way,” made famous by Frank Sinatra in a 1969 recording on his album of the same name. The success of the Anka version prompted Bowie to write “Life on Mars?” as a parody of Sinatra’s recording.

Bowie described how he wrote the song in notes for a Bowie compilation CD that accompanied a June 2008 issue of The Mail on Sunday:

Workspace was a big empty room with a chaise longue; a bargain-price art nouveau screen (‘William Morris,’ so I told anyone who asked); a huge overflowing freestanding ashtray and a grand piano. Little else. I started working it out on the piano and had the whole lyric and melody finished by late afternoon.
Bowie noted that Rick Wakeman “embellished the piano part” of his original melody and guitarist Mick Ronson “created one of his first and best string parts” for the song.

The liner notes for Hunky Dory indicate that the song was ‘inspired by Frankie’.


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