Monday, October 29, 2018

Musical Monday - Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie

#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: August 23, 1980 through August 30, 1980.

With the release of Ashes to Ashes, David Bowie entered a new phase of his career by hearkening back to the very beginning of his career. After he released Space Oddity, Bowie went on to first become first Ziggy Stardust and then the Thin White Duke, but in 1980 he had moved on from those in favor of a kind of demented harlequin persona singing about the titular character of his first big hit. Somehow Bowie managed to take a song about an astronaut marooned in space who steps out of his capsule to what could only be certain death and come up with a reimagining of the story that is even more nihilistic.

This was the first David Bowie song that I heard that I consciously knew was a David Bowie song. I had probably heard songs like Space Oddity, Fame, Suffragette City, and Changes on the radio before, but I had not specifically connected them to Bowie. This song was presented to me via the music video as a Bowie song, and so my first impression of Bowie was, well this, and my preteen brain was just not ready for it. Now I can see the artistry in the song, but when you've been raised on the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Doobie Brothers, and the Eagles, this version of Bowie is so out there that it was, at the time, somewhat off-putting. As a result, I didn't listen to any other Bowie until 1983 when he released Let's Dance, Modern Love, and China Girl. Those were the wedge that got me to listen to Bowie's music, and led me back to songs like this one.

Previous Musical Monday: Take Your Time (Do It Right) by the S.O.S. Band
Subsequent Musical Monday: Sailing by Christopher Cross

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: The Winner Takes It All by ABBA
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Start! by the Jam

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

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