Category Archives: Glam/Progressive/Psychedelic Rock

Moonage Daydream, two ways

It takes a true artist to pour enjoyment into another man’s song and keep it there, despite the disinterest of the crowd. They’re waiting for Adele to take the stage:

Meanwhile, 15 years before Adele was born:



Exploring Life on Mars

“I somehow got hold of a completely white studio and that dictated the concept – it was as simple as that. We showed up around noon, because none of us liked to start too early.

David looked amazing in his blue suit – it was made by his mate Freddie Burretti, who made the Ziggy costume. Pierre Laroche, who also worked on the Aladdin Sane cover, did the great makeup. And there we were – we just shot for no more than five hours”

Mick Rock, director/2nd cameraman

Sadly the BBC has taken their radio programme Exploring “Life on Mars” down from iPlayer. If you can find it somewhere else, it’s worth listening to. It’s not just another Bowie anniversary documentary. Tris Penna located Bowie’s original demo tape for the song, along with unreleased archive BBC interviews and audio.

If you write songs in English, you’ll find the whole programme useful. Go to 24 minutes in to hear how the lyrics of Life on Mars changed as the song developed. It’s an inspiration if you’re struggling to find the ‘right’ words.

If English isn’t your first language: keep the ar of Mars soft and smooth when you sing Life on Mars. Why? 

Mick Rock’s 2016 reworking of the original Life on Mars video:

Which version do you prefer? I find the last few, black and white seconds of the reworking poignant and I like it as a ‘making of’, but I don’t like the fact that Mick Ronson‘s guitar and Woody Woodmansey‘s drums are missing.


Fire – Five Ways

English words are like onions, when you sing. Chop them, roast them whole, caramelise them, scatter them as crunchy red raw rings on a salad. They never stop being onions, but you’re in charge of the flavour and the texture they provide.

Fire is a classic onion. We all know what fire is. It’s the singer’s job to make us feel what fire ‘is’ in their song.

Arthur Brown sings a powerful, all-encompassing fire. The fire of myth. Wicker Man, Hell-fire, Prometheus. Fire as pure element. Fi-ya:

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Hocus Pocus

It’s funny because I studied a lot of classical piano, organ and flute, but I never studied yodelling. And it made me famous throughout the world. It’s really funny.”

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Singing The End

One of the most disruptive mistakes you can make when you sing in English is to mispronounce the. One of the most wasteful mistakes you can make is to take the for granted.

The is a word of many colours – from a schwa sound the (hear it here) to the the that rhymes with thee. As a native English speaker, the choice between the two comes naturally. If English isn’t your first language, always check that you’re using the right kind of the when you sing. Otherwise you’re in danger of sounding like this.

Pronunciation isn’t the end of the. Like all small English words, the is available to be filled with feeling when you sing. Subtly. Listen to Jim Morrison making the most of every single the of The End – which, surprisingly, began life as a love song.

I’ve used this particular video (if you’d like a clearer, longer one, try this) so that you can hear the presenter introduce the song with a standard English pronunciation of The End. The presenter puts the stress on end. Jim invites the to the party:

Continue reading Singing The End