The Story of a Song
I was born in May 1970 from the pen of musical legend, David Bowie, and made my first public appearance in November of the same year. Although some classify me as ‘glam rock’, I have always considered myself adaptable and perhaps difficult to pin down. Like Mr. Bowie himself, I have adopted at least four guises in my time – that is, so far; who knows what I’ll become in the future. I started life as a track on an album which, I’m proud to say, had my name, and I then had the honour of becoming the B-side of David Bowie’s massive hit ‘Space Oddity’, in the USA. This, it turned out, was only my first incarnation, sung with David’s distinctive London accent.
Shortly afterwards, he lent me to his Scottish friend Lulu, a tiny, Eurovision-song-singing lady with great popularity at the time, although hardly alternative! She turned me into a sleazy, almost cabaret-style number 3 hit in 1974, and vastly increased her street cred in the process. However, I was still keen to try new images, having learned from my creator, who has taken on various personae including Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, a clown, and others, both male and female. So, after resting for a few years, in 1993 I worked with grunge group Nirvana, one of rock history’s greatest groups, I’m told, on their album MTV Unplugged in New York. We went to number one in several countries, including the USA, the UK and Spain.
|Own photo but also available at eltpics in Music set.|
Despite being part of Nirvana’s Unplugged set, I sounded remarkably similar to my original version, with, perhaps, a slightly rougher, less ‘British pop’ edge. This meant that I had now expressed myself in a London accent, a Scottish twang and the tones of the USA’s Pacific West coast, as Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain was from up in Washington, near the Canadian border with the States. Unintentionally, I had travelled extensively, as well as changing face and gender…. More recently, I changed origin, face and gender again. In 2005, a young woman called Jordis Unga, from Massachusetts in the North East of the USA performed me with great success on a TV show and then issued me in a format that was completely new to me – as a digital download. This makes my experimentation with multiple identities even more satisfactory, as I started on a vinyl album, became a vinyl single or two, later experienced life as a cassette and a CD, and finally as a download – and of course a YouTube video.
This is, of course, in line with my main interest in multiple personalities, as I sing about having ‘passed (him) upon the stair, we spoke of what and when although I wasn't there’. Nowadays, I could do that on the mobile, but back in the seventies, only a schizophrenic or split personality could talk to someone while not being there, don’t you agree? I admit, though, that I’m not totally original and have been inspired by Kafka, HP Lovecraft and a poem by William Hughes Mearns about someone who talked to a ghost he’d met on the stairs. But I’m happy with the way I am, and I seem to bring success to those who sing me and happiness to those who listen to me. Will you be one of them?