Very few songs have resonated across the time continuum of music and who but a “Starman” to accomplish such a foothold? This masterpiece by the late David Bowie is undoubtedly one of his finest works, which is a difficult ranking scale in itself. The song is about a ‘starman’ in heaven wanting to come and meet people on earth, but he’s scared. We think this song came out before it was time, because now we understand the song better than we did decades ago.
“Starman” was the first single released from David Bowie’s fifth studio album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” in April 1972. The lyrics were written by David Bowie himself. This song has created a whole culture of alter ego “starmen” in the career of David Bowie.
The single, surprisingly, did not top the music charts, but was one of the best-selling singles of Bowie’s career. According to Chartmasters, the single has sold 4.7 million units worldwide since its release. However, even to this day, “Starman” is considered a cornerstone of Rock n’ Roll culture.
Watch David Bowie perform “Starman” live in 1972
Download the single “Starman” on iTunes and Amazon
“Starman” is a story of Ziggy Stardust, the Starman’s human messenger in the sky. The song brings Ziggy out to bring a message to the children of Earth, from whose perspective David Bowie is vocalizing the song.
Review of the lyrics and meaning of the song “Starman”
The song’s intro consists of two solemn lines of “Hey my love, Goodbye love”. Both are forms of greeting used, one to meet someone, the other to leave someone. So, from the first line itself, Ziggy met us and left us.
Ziggy is on the radio listening to rock n’ roll music. “Chat” is slang used to refer to cool people in the 60s. Then suddenly the loud music begins to fade and an alien wave frequency is picked up in the radio.
A “misty cosmic movement” is difficult to explain. Hazy is a hazy state and jive is a lively dance style popularized in the 1950s. Just imagine an overlord voice with deep resonance. But Ziggy was sure he had never listened to a DJ.
The radio message says that there is a “Starman” in the sky and he even wants to meet the people of Earth. Ziggy Stardust is not the Starman himself, but simply his messenger. Is he extraterrestrial? Not at all. He is human, with an alien outlook on life.
But he thinks he’d blow us away
Despite popular opinion that any alien species that visits Earth is out to destroy us, says Ziggy Stardust in “Starman”, the Starman has come to enlighten them. What he has to say or show will be a blow to the popular opinions we cling to.
It makes more and more sense now. Humans are blinded by social constructs such as religion, country, power, money, and greed. The very hearts of some religions would break if aliens showed up at our doorsteps. Powerful powers with advanced technology should kneel before alien technology capable of space travel. We would have no chance of waging war on their advanced technology. It’s the kind of ‘blowing our minds’ that Ziggy refers to in the song.
Ziggy reaches out to the youth of Earth. Young people are fresh-minded, their minds have not yet been hammered into believing in social constructs. Ziggy thinks it’s too late to say one of the amazing things to the older generation because they’ve been bent in a way that can’t be straightened anymore. But it’s not too late for the children. So Ziggy tells the kid listening to the radio not to tell the parents about this encounter and to waste this chance to meet the Starman, because it will be worth it.
He told me
let the kids lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the kids boogie
It is unclear what exactly these lines mean. But here is my best interpretation:
The Starman told Ziggy to let the kids take control of things. Don’t mold them to believe or do anything, but let them explore, get lost and discover themselves. It’s too late for adults now, because they’ve been molded into such bent shapes that they can’t be straightened. Children are cool-minded and flexible. Even the Starman doesn’t ask Ziggy to teach them what he knows. He asks them to set them free and let them find out for themselves. What is “it”? “That’s” that’s all.
Watch David Bowie perform “Starman” live in 2002
Ziggy was surprised by the Starman’s message so he called a friend, and that friend is you. He conveys this message to everyone on Earth.
The second channel is designed to sound very futuristic, as in the 1970s there weren’t many TV channels.
David Bowie asks us to look out the window because we might see the light from the Starman. Looking out the window is a metaphor for our conscripted minds. Windows are borders, with which our vision, our beliefs and our thinking are limited. Ziggy asks us to get out of these frames of mind that society has built. “Light” here refers to knowledge or enlightenment. If you dare to step out of the restrictive boundaries that society has built around us, maybe we can see some truth.
So, in other words, “Starman” might not quite be a being. But a symbol of light, truth and knowledge.
Ziggy asks the friends not to tell their parents about it because they won’t be able to see past the social constructs and they will forbid the children from finding out any truth.
What started out as an alien being in the sky seems to represent something else in David Bowie’s “Starman.” If we watch the song with restricted mentalities, we will hear about an extraterrestrial being who would like to visit us. But if we take Ziggy’s advice and look at him out the window, what will we see? What do you see?
Let us know your thoughts on the song and its meaning in the comments below.
David Bowie’s “Starman” Full Lyrics
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