Aladdin Sane

“About young people just before the two wars, wanting to go and screw girls and kill foreigners.”David Bowie (111)

The Jean Genie

“About finding foreigners, for me anyway, in America. In Detroit. I spent a month in Detroit and a month in Chicago looking for City Lights bookshop before realizing it was in San Francisco. I did get a copy of a Jean Genet book, that and Detroit led to this one.”David Bowie (111)

China Girl

“I wrote this song with Jim [Iggy Pop – Ed] around the same time [during their time in Berlin – Ed]. This one is also sort of about invasion and exploitation.”David Bowie (112)


“I remember in the Seventies Abbie Hoffman saying to me, “Tomorrow isn’t promised,” reminding me that if we move one grain of sand the earth is no longer exactly the same. No one going on a business trip would be missed if they never arrived. David Mamet said that. Which brings us to this song of now-ness.”David Bowie (112)

Word On A Wing

“1975 and 1976 and a bit of 1974 and the first few weeks of 1977 were singularly the darkest days of my life. It was so steeped in awfulness that recall is nigh on impossible. Certainly painful. I was concerned with questions like: “Do the dead interest themselves in the affairs of the living?” Unwittingly, therefore, this song was a signal of distress, I’m sure that it was a call for help.”David Bowie (112)

Never Let Me Down

“It’s basically about Coco [best friend Coco Schwab – Ed], more than anybody else. There is romance in it inasmuch as it’s hard for two people to feel totally at ease in each other’s company for that period of time and not to expect too much from each other. Always being prepared to be there if the other one needs someone, you know? There’s not many people you find in life that you can do that with, or feel that way with. But it’s platonic.”David Bowie (516)

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (The Album)

“The time is five years to go before the end of the earth. It has been announced that the world will end because of lack of natural resources. Ziggy is in a position where all the kids have access to things that they thought they wanted. The older people have lost all touch with reality and the kids are left on their own to plunder anything. Ziggy was in a rock-and-roll band and the kids no longer want rock-and-roll. There’s no electricity to play it. Ziggy’s adviser tells him to collect news and sing it, ’cause there is no news. So Ziggy does this and there is terrible news. “All the Young Dudes” is a song about this news. It’s no hymn to the youth as people thought. It is completely the opposite. The exhaustion of natural resources does not cause the end of the world for Ziggy. The end comes when the infinites arrive. They really are a black hole, but I’ve made them people because it would be very hard to explain a black hole on stage [Bowie is explaining the stage performance of Ziggy Stardust too – Ed]. Ziggy is advised in a dream by the infinites to write the coming of a Starman, so he writes ‘Starman’, which is the first news of hope that the people have heard. So they latch onto it immediately…The starmen that he is talking about are called the infinites, and they are black-hole jumpers. Ziggy has been talking about this amazing spaceman who will be coming down to save the earth. They arrive somewhere in Greenwich Village. They don’t have a care in the world and are of no possible use to us. They just happened to stumble into our universe by black hole jumping. Their whole life is travelling from universe to universe. Now Ziggy starts to believe in all this himself and thinks himself a prophet of the future starman. He takes himself up to incredible spiritual heights and is kept alive by his disciples. When the infinites arrive, they take bits of Ziggy to make themselves real because in their original state they are anti-matter and cannot exist in our world. And they tear him to pieces on stage during the song “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide”. As soon as Ziggy dies on stage the infinites take his elements and make themselves visible.”David Bowie (523)

All The Young Dudes (Recorded by Mott the Hoople)

“[Even after the song rocketed Mott the Hoople to international stardom, lead singer Ian Hunter didn’t know Bowie had intended to use the song on his futuristic concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Bowie had given the song to them on hearing they were breaking up. Years passed before Bowie revealed that the line “All the young dudes carry the news” refers to a point in the story when, with no electricity left in the world, Ziggy uses songs to spread the news – Ed]. ‘All the Young Dudes’ is a song about this news. It’s not a hymn to the youth, as people thought. It is completely the opposite.”David Bowie (599)


“I’m allowed to talk about it now. I wasn’t at the time. I always said it was a couple of lovers by the Berlin Wall that prompted the idea. Actually, it was Tony Visconti and his girlfriend. Tony was married at the time. And I could never say who it was. But I can now say that the lovers were Tony and a German girl that he’d met whilst we were in Berlin. I did ask his permission if I could say that. I think possibly the marriage was in the last few months, and it was very touching because I could see that Tony was very much in love with this girl, and it was that relationship which sort of motivated the song.”David Bowie (600)