I used to keep two copies of Ziggy Stardust— one to enjoy at maximum volume, one to gift at a moment’s notice. It is, forever and always, my favorite album. I picked it up when I was 19 and familiar with only the barely-classic-rock-radio-friendliness of “Suffragette City”. Looking at the cover– an innocuous colorized Mick Rock photo of the guitar-hung Bowie outside a London furrier– I couldn’t immediately appreciate the concept of an extraterrestrial demi-god rockstar. But within the private world of an off-brand Korean “walkman” with black, foam-covered headphones, Ziggy Stardust filled me with a warm, angsty certainty…
Rock n’ roll was not of this Earth. It was divine.
Ziggy fades in with the apocalyptical prophecy of “Five Years”, a portrait of civilization realizing its impending doom. That was me facing down the honking headlights of my future– a fierce representation of fading, aching teenage wildlife on the brink of nothing: “Five years, that’s all we got!”
The album perpetuates into the stars, detailing the power and prurience of that space flung messiah wielding salvation in the shape of an electric guitar. Legend has it that Ziggy was based on original Brit rocker Vince Taylor who in a nervous breakdown saw himself as an actual deity. Of course, I didn’t know that then. Nor did I know about Iggy Pop and his influence– or the actual genius of Mick Ronson… But the whole shebang was such a perfect orgy of sci-fi, sex, and rock n’ roll!
Oh, the floodgate Ziggy opened!
By the time I reached the ultimate cut, “Rock n’ Roll Suicide”, the indoctrination, the invasion was complete. It’s afterburn and tone, moonage daydreams and revolution. Honestly, I don’t think I knew what rock n’ roll was before Ziggy Stardust. And if you’ve never experienced it then you don’t either.