On September 5, 1980, the late David Bowie performed two of his biggest hits at the time, Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. “Life on Mars” is a song that was released on Bowie’s 1971 album “Hunky Dory”.
The lyrics of the song describe a young girl named “Sailors” who is watching a film and daydreaming about a better life on Mars. The song explores themes of escapism, disillusionment, and the search for meaning in a world that can often seem overwhelming and confusing.
Bowie himself has said that the song was inspired by his own experiences of feeling lost and disillusioned in the early 1970s, as well as by the science fiction films and television shows that he enjoyed watching as a child.
“Life on Mars” has since become one of Bowie’s most iconic and enduring songs, with its influence felt across multiple genres of music and popular culture. The song has been covered by many artists over the years, and continues to be celebrated as a masterpiece of songwriting and musical innovation.
“Ashes to Ashes” was released in 1980 on his album “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”.
The lyrics of “Ashes to Ashes” describe the character of Major Tom, a fictional astronaut who was first introduced in Bowie’s earlier song “Space Oddity”. In this song, Major Tom is described as a drug addict who has returned to Earth and is struggling to come to terms with the changes that he sees in the world around him.
The song’s title is a reference to the Christian funeral liturgy which includes the phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. Bowie has said that the song was inspired by his own experiences of drug addiction and his efforts to overcome his addiction.
The music video for “Ashes to Ashes” was also highly influential and is often cited as one of the greatest music videos of all time. The video features Bowie in a variety of surreal and dreamlike settings, and includes iconic images such as the Pierrot costume that Bowie wears in the video.
Enjoy this look back at David Bowie performing “Life on Mars” and “Ashes to Ashes” live on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1980 as well as a look at Bowie’s aforementioned music video for “Ashes To Ashes”!