Hunky Dory turns 50

By Jake Gloth

 Few people sparkled like David Bowie. On December 17th, his fourth album, Hunky Dory, had its 50th anniversary. This album shifted from the hard rock tone of his earlier album, The Man Who Sold the World (1970), into a pop-rock/art-rock style. In celebration of its legendary musical legacy, here are a few of the songs from the album that dazzled the world.

The opening track, “Changes”, surrounds itself with a unique, catchy piano riff which mixed well with Bowie’s upbeat vocals. The lyrics discussed his struggle to reinvent himself on each album, something Bowie is famous for doing.

The first of two tribute songs in this album is called “Andy Warhol”, which is about the American painter/director named in the song. While Bowie meant the song as a loving ode, Mr Warhol himself famously hated it and stormed out of the room when Bowie first played it for him.

The other tribute tune is “Song for Bob Dylan”, which offers an opinion on Dylan’s career as well as some comparisons between Dylan and Bowie. In the song, Bowie calls Dylan by his real name (Robert Zimmerman), which he relates to his own identity crisis revolving around his actual name David Jones, his stage name David Bowie, and his soon-to-be alter ego Ziggy Stardust.

Maybe the most prophetic song on the album was “Life on Mars?”. This exciting ballad marks the early days of Ziggy Stardust, Bowie’s stage persona which was propelled by his fifth album Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972). Oddly, the song is not about Mars in the slightest; Bowie said that it’s actually a parody of the Frank Sinatra classic “My Way”.  

There are many more wonderful songs on this 50-year-old masterpiece that continue to delight and sparkle today. The timeless nature of this work will only grow and develop as this album is loved for another 50 years.

If you enjoyed “Hunky Dory turns 50”, you may also like “Something Bigger”.

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