Song Stories

“Ziggy Stardust”

David Bowie | 1972

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars is a concept album that made David Bowie not only a famous singer but also a cult figure. Its title track examines the story’s antihero, an alien rock star who’s come to save the human spirit in the face of Earth’s imminent destruction. But Ziggy got so sidetracked by fame and so blindsided by excess that it eventually led to his own destruction. “I couldn’t decide whether I was writing the characters, or whether the characters were writing me, or whether we were all one and the same,” says David Bowie, who embraced Ziggy as his alter ego at the time.

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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