Thursday, May 31, 2012

David Bowie's Glam Rock Anthem "All The Young Dudes" Turns 40!

DAVID BOWIE'S GLAM ROCK ANTHEM "ALL THE YOUNG DUDES" TURNS 40!  Okay kids, it's time to get out the glitter bombs!  But not in protest or defiance -- oh no, we'd never do that! We're talking about celebrating those days of glitter and glam from the 1970s when all things "camp" and -- especially -- all things androgynous (!) filled the streets, clubs and bedrooms of rock n' roll youth in England where David Bowie ruled the eyeliner set with a look that had parents asking, "is it a boy or a girl?" But it didn't matter...and that was the best part! (The film Velvet Goldmine with the oh-so-exposed Ewan McGregor (!) captures the era as best as any film, for sure!) As rock music staggered from the 1960s into the '70s, kids in the UK had angst in their pants (to borrow a line from the band Sparks!) and along came the elfin songster Mark Bolan and his two-man band T-Rex who hit the British TV show Top of the Pops in 1971 all dolled up in satin and glitter on his doe-like eyes and face -- bolstering the then-rising singer-songwriter David Bowie to take this new look to an even bigger and more glamorous place than anyone could imagine! (Glam would have a lasting influence far past its heyday with such musical acts as Kiss and Motley Crue piling on the makeup and teasing up the hair!)  It was in 1972 that Bowie was anxious to help floundering British rock act Mott the Hoople by offering them one of his songs "Suffragette City" (a landmark rock song if there ever was one!) but, alas, the band turned it down.  So the ripe-with-song Bowie supposedly plunked himself down on the floor in a room on Regent Street in London and proceeded to write what would eventually become the biggest song of the glam rock era, "All the Young Dudes" -- but the song wasn't meant to be an "anthem" for the era at all -- just the opposite!! There was actually a darker message in the song (but no one cared about that because the melody was so infectious!). Bowie was depicting an apocalyptic time -- and the "news" that the "dudes" were carrying was that Earth had only five years left -- the same message Bowie wrote about in his song "Five Years" on his "Ziggy Stardust" album.  In July 1972, "All the Young Dudes" (which Mott the Hoople recorded instead of "Suffragette City") was released in the UK, reaching number 3 on the charts there -- and later number 37 on the US charts in November of that year.  The song became so popular over time that it has been featured in many films: Clueless (1995); Juno (2007); The Wackness (2008); Cemetery Junction (2010); and it has been used for at least two British TV commercials. Even better is the fact that Rolling Stone magazine placed it at #253 as one of the 500 greatest songs of all time; and it's one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 songs that shaped rock and roll!  Not bad for a song of "doom and gloom" that actually cheers people up when they hear it! So, dig out the eyeliner (we're talking to you guys out there!) and step into those platform boots, kids, 'cos we're gonna carry the news about those dudes who have stayed forever young at heart -- thanks to David Bowie and Mott the Hoople!