There’s something in those lyrics that make you start painting pictures even where the pictures don’t make sense.
The girl with the mousey hair is trying to escape something? Or being sent away? She’s out of there and plugged in. Wired up and alone. On this cinema on the moon.
And the films, they don’t tell her anything she hasn’t been through already. What kind of escapism is reliving the past?
Who cares about sailors, lawmen, wrong guys, cavemen and freak shows (even the freakiest)? She spits her protest and wanders on. Seen it all before no life here, not new stuff anyway.
She’s accompanied by living iconography, Mickey Mouse and Lennon (Lenin?), patriotism and hedonism. All wandering through the world.
And maybe now it’s the real world, out on the red plains of mars, where she comes across a once more familiar cavalcade of faces. The lawmen, the wrong guys, the cavemen and the sailors.
It sure is a freaky show.
But she still can’t find life out there. No life on Mars.
Or, by implication, down here.
The whole thing’s collage and possible parody, of course. It’s the kind of kaleidescopic nonsense that reads well, sucks in projected meaning and spits it right back at you. Glaringly obvious.
I’m feeling a bit lonely, so it’s probably about loneliness.
There’s nothing wrong with this, to an extent it’s a good thing. Suggestiveness, open and exposed, ready to be read. Read what you wish, kind stranger. We’ll not be strange for long.
Or rather we’ll be more familiar with our strangenesses.
Have I lost you yet?
Out somewhere stranded on the red dust. Plains and mountains and pyramids and faces (or is that just a rock?)
Is that a bird? Circling the olympus mons? Or just a dream?
(I think of a song by the Pixies every time I remember the latinate name of the pubis mons. This means I think about it most times I have sex. This is possibly too much information, I rarely even share it with my partners…it’s not exactly the right time for that sort of thing).
The largest mountain in the solar system, therefore presumably the largest mountain we are aware of (you are back on mars right? Olympus, not pubis? Right?) Rising above a sea of deep red rocks and dust.
It’s also red.
But there’s no snow on the peaks. No water, unless there is (if there is there probably was life once, or could be soon, either way it’s exciting).
I should really be doing more research here.
But Bowie and the red planet both call for a particular kind of romantic (not in the pubic sense) surrealism, and probably don’t need this level of self analysis either.
I’d try life on mars, but I’d probably get lonely. Even with a few Bowie records to tide me over.
But if it’s there; it certainly isn’t big headed aliens, because I cleared them out of their pyramids a few years back.
Illustration by Henry.