David Bowie: “Hunky Dory” (1971)

God dammit this is such a good fucking album. I listened to it twice before I even thought to write this.

Back in high school, AntKnee made me a tape with this album on one side and “Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust…” on the other. I spent so many nights during sophomore year listening to that tape, just playing through each side over and over and over again. AntKnee and I would even write lyrics from this album in each other’s assignment books. 

I am going to stick to my Bowie Apprenticeship™ theory and say that “Hunky Dory” — despite being not only one of his best albums, but one of the best rock records of all time, period — is still proto-Bowie. Nearly all of the songs are homages or tributes or heavily inspired by artists Bowie loved: “Queen Bithch” is The Velvet Underground, “Changes” is Sinatra, “Song for Bob Dylan” is you-know-who, “Kooks” is Neil Young, etc.

Granted, we’re really close. Trevor Bolder has replaced Visconti on bass, so we now have the final Spiders lineup. “Queen Bitch” is said by Wikipedia to be the song that invents Glam Rock, and the sumptuous “Life on Mars” begs to be played in a medley with the next album’s “Five Years”. And the unevenness of Bowie’s previous songwriting is just flat out gone. “Hunky Dory” is solid — hell, it’s magnificent — from start to finish. 

And “Quicksand”… one of the most beautifully harrowing songs Bowie’s ever written. 

God dammit this is such a good fucking album. 



3 thoughts on “David Bowie: “Hunky Dory” (1971)

  1. Woo!

    Two bonus things I saw…  The Extra Yard, let’s say…


    “I took the song to The Factory when I first came to America and played it to him, and he hated it. Loathed it. He went [imitates Warhol’s blasé manner] ‘Oh, uh-huh, okay…’ then just walked away (laughs). I was left there. Somebody came over and said, ‘Gee, Andy hated it.’ I said, ‘Sorry, it was meant to be a compliment.’ ‘Yeah, but you said things about him looking weird. Don’t you know that Andy has such a thing about how he looks? He’s got a skin disease and he really thinks that people kind of see that.’ I was like, ‘Oh, no.’

    And… This reminded me a lot of Bhtch and pasting together/reusing random ideas:


    “the Americans always like to read things into things”, even though the lyrics “make absolutely no sense”. Reflecting on the song in 2008, Bowie wrote “I wouldn’t know how to interpret the lyric of this song other than suggesting that there are layers of ghosts within it. It’s a palimpsest, then.”

  2. #theextrayard yes!

    I read a version of the story where, after Bowie played the song, Warhol and he stared at each other in silence for a while, until Warhol commented on Bowie’s shoes, at which point they had a conversation about shoes.