I’m An Alligator

Pete and I have both, alas, been buried by life and work and the cheese has therefore been a bit neglected for a while, as we both work and I indulge in my hobby of driving back and forth to L.A. while remembering why I don’t live in California anymore. And finding this time out that a great stretch of the drive, along one of the most traveled routes to and from southern Nevada, suddenly has seen its speed limit lowered to 60 from 70. This being California, pretty much everyone still drives 80 during the daylight hours, and at night the speed limit is determined only by your vehicle’s capabilities and your sense of self-preservation. But the fine for going 20 over the limit is, of course, a lot higher than the fine for going 10 over. I am sure that California has nothing but driver safety in mind and it never occurred to anyone that they might pull in some desperately needed cash from all the Vegas- and Laughlin-bound desert racers. (You can use that route to get to Needles, too, but you know, come on.)

But anyway, here’s the latest installment in our fresh series of moon-related music.

Video link for the freaky e-mail people.

“Moonage Daydream” is of course from the marvel that is Ziggy Stardust, and it’s certainly not the strongest track on the album, but not the weakest, either. (That’s “It Ain’t Easy.”) It comes at an odd spot, between the haunting “Soul Love” and the strange and curiously touching “Starman.”

I don’t worry too much about making sense of the story of the Ziggy concept album, I just know that it’s one of my favorite albums ever, and that it started, completed, and wrote the epitaph for glam in a bit less than an hour. After Ziggy, what else was there left to say?

“Moonage Daydream” introduces the album’s alien theme, with an aggressive, eccentric declaration:

I’m an alligator,
I’m a mama-papa coming for you
I’m the space invader,
I’ll be a rock ‘n’ rollin’ bitch for you

Hard to argue with that. It’s the kind of thing Bowie could get away with without sounding ridiculous, precisely because it’s so over-the-top silly in itself. And a pronouncement that, after the album’s two relatively mild opening tracks, Ziggy is gonna rock.

And he does — for a minute, but then segues into a surprisingly melodic chorus that’s even kind of pretty.

Keep your electric eye on me, babe
Put your raygun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love,
Freak out in a moonage daydream, oh yeah!

And in the next verse, despite being the definitive glam god, Bowie goes positively peace-and-love-beads hippie on us:

Don’t fake it, baby, lay the real thing on me
The church of man, love
Is such a holy place to be
Make me baby,
Make me know you really care,
Make me jump into the air

One more chorus, and in the long, Mick Ronson and His Space Guitar fade, Bowie states solemnly:

Freak out…
Far out…
In out…

Exactly that, coming right there, is pretty amusing. Having adapted hippie lingo for his own purposes earlier, now Bowie/Ziggy’s going to make fun of them a little — their type of spaciness is maybe not that different from that of a barely arrived and already zoned-out alien (or just alienated) fledgling rock star.

About Bridey

Bridey has been a music nut since falling in love with Elton John's "Caribou" album in grade school (why that one? I was nine). She's a magazine editor by trade who writes regularly about radio, music, and related industries.
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3 Responses to I’m An Alligator

  1. Maggie McT says:

    Agreed about the instrumental break; perhaps most simply ignore it. But I still think it’s a sweet song even though not deep.
    Glad you’re back!

  2. Maggie McT says:

    Actually, that was supposed to go with “Moonshadow.” Something funny with the link to comments!

  3. Bridey says:

    Yes, something’s gone blooey with the homepage and commenting — I’m trying to figure out exactly what. But a new post is up!