I’m three days in and really enjoying this process!  I’m pushing myself to create songs as well (time permitting).  I was curious to see if Duran Duran was influenced by Bowie, so I decided to look him up.  I decided on the Ziggy Stardust album.

D03 - Ziggy Stardust

Stardust is Bowie’s 5th studio album and was released in 1972.  So Duran Duran must have been kids at that time.  I would have to listen to Bowie’s later albums to find the influences.  Specifically Heroes, as that album as produced by Colin Thurston.

But I’m looking for seminal or classic works.  So I wanted to listen to this.  I’ve heard about this album and know it’s one of Bowie’s popular albums.  So in we go!

Five Years – I instantly was feeling the drums.  Groove.  I’m struck by the relative simplicity by the song at the start and the buildup as the song continues.  Seems to be a lot of space in the music given the arrangement.  Lyrically, I hear a Beatles influence, which is who I will listen to next.
Soul Love – Groove.  The rhythm section is grooving.  The arrangement strikes me.  I like Bowie’s lyrics and his melodies.  The guitar’s melodies drive the song and compliment the singing.
Moonage Daydream – It grooves in a soul kind of way.  Nice arrangement.  Interesting lyricism, great melodies.  I like the use of vocal effects midway into the song.
Starman – Dissonant guitar chords got my attention.  Love the hook.  Great melody for the verse.  I’ve heard this before.  I like the structure of the song and the familiar breakdown before it goes into the hook.
It Ain’t Easy – Feels very Queeny.  LOVE the hook.  Simple.  Space.  Song structure is super dope.  Lyrics are ill.  Straight to point and very easy to follow the story or idea behind the song.  (I later learned that this is a cover song.)
Lady Stardust – Chord changes drive the song.  Great hook vocal arrangement.  Great storytelling.  This songs makes me wonder if Billy Joel was influenced by Bowie.
Star – I don’t like the start of the song.  This song is a good sonic and structural break.  The repetitive piano chords hasn’t been heard in prior songs (or maybe it has and I didn’t realize it), but it doesn’t drive the whole song.  The guitar takes over, and there are breaks.  I hear a total Beatles influence in the song structure and toward the end when he sings “I could fall asleep at night as a rock ‘n’ roll star.”
Hang On To Yourself – Guitar driven.  Feels like classic rock ‘n’ roll.  Hook is great.
Ziggy Stardust – Dope guitar riff.  Interesting that there is no hook.  Love the storytelling and structure of the song.  Was the guitar riff in Lenny Kravitz’s “American Woman” inspired by this song?
Suffragette City – Classic rock from the start.  I like his melodies and his double meanings behind his words.  Classic song structure.  I like the synth line in the hook.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide – I love it.  Soul feel for sure with instrumentation and arrangement.  I love the pictures he paints – “Time takes a cigarette and puts it in your mouth.”  The buildup toward the end is great.  I think it’s an interesting choice to end the album on this song.  It definitely works.

Sgt. Pepper influenced?  I’m not sure as Sgt. Pepper was released in ’67.  But a 5 year gap doesn’t mean anything when it comes to taste.  The arrangements are not overly complicated.  Not as much happening as Duran Duran.  The songs are not led by synths, they are led by melodies.  These are solid, solid songs, even if some of them veer a little experimental.  Makes me want to hear Bowie’s earlier works.

The mix is characterized by a lot of space.  Panned guitars and pianos.  Vocals in the center where they belong.

Overall, Bowie has great songs, great lyrics, and great storytelling on this album.

My song ended up nowhere near his sound.  I was influenced by his chord progressions, specifically “Lady Stardust.”  I would have chosen another song to work with, but because I can’t play guitar (yet), the piano was going to be my weapon of choice.

I straight lifted the chord progressions from “Lady Stardust.”  I can’t play piano as well as he can.  I went with what I felt in the moment, which was hitting the chords on the up beat.  Obviously, I heard a reggae vibe, so I ran with that.  Because I can’t play guitar that well, I kept the instrumentation and arrangement simple.  I ended up doing a little more with my vocals.  The lyrics were slightly inspired by Bob Marley.  I like what came out.  Enjoy.

 

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