It’s a hard thing to pick a favorite Bowie album. I’ve spent so much of my life with his music, discovering, and re-discovering, hits and deeper cuts alike, album to album. I’ve listened to them on vinyl, cassette, CD, and yes, even 8-Track. Although time has changed what songs hit me, and what albums I gravitate towards, there’s one that has remained consistent, beloved, and even made it to the number 1 spot of Lyriquediscorde’s Top 30 Albums. Hunky Dory.
David Bowie – Hunky Dory
Hunky Dory is David Bowie’s fourth studio album. It was released on December 17, 1971, by RCA Records. It was Bowie’s first release through RCA, which would be his label for the next decade. (from Wikipedia)
The album was recorded at Trident Studios in July 1971, several days after his Glastonbury appearance. Hunky Dory has been said to capture Bowie’s transition from the pot-enhanced rock of The Man Who Sold the World, to the grand concept of Ziggy Stardust. (from BBC Music)
Although I was alive in 1971, I was too young to have taken in Hunky Dory at its “birth”. Bowie wasn’t played in my house, so my access to him took some time. It happened through Duran Duran talking about Bowie and his influence. It was an article with Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, where he mentioned his favorite Bowie song. It was the first Bowie I’d hear. “Starman”.
From there it was a crash-course of Bowie for me. Lucky for me MTV had videos like “China Girl”, “Modern Love”, and “Let’s Dance” on heavy rotation, as did my favorite radio station at the time (KROQ). I wanted more though. I have always been one to dig in deep with artists and bands I fall in love with. Hunky Dory was the first album I bought. On vinyl. And I devoured it.
The album opens with “Changes”. Hearing this song as a teenager was deeply impactful. I related deep beneath my skin, wrapping my insecurities, dreams, and uncertainties on it. I wanted to change just about everything in my life. I wanted to leap into the world and get far away from my world. I wanted to recreate myself and become something new.
Lyrics from “Changes” would open the movie The Breakfast Club, solidifying its teen angst understanding to me. Funny thing though, playing it at age 49 hits me just as deeply. I think we are all longing for some kind of change. Always. I think that desire for change is what living is.
Bowie would touch on so many different aspects of life on Hunky Dory. Some would take years for me to connect with. “Kooks”, which tells the story of a young, unconventional couple and their young child, did not truly resonate with me until I was myself a young and unconventional parent. “Eight Line Poem” would hit me when I was deeply immersed in literature and poetry, during my first run at college in the early ’90s.
And, “Life On Mars?” would knock me completely to the ground in the early 2000s when I’d hear it for what felt like the first time. Something about the song changed me, and it soon became one of my forever favorite Bowie tracks.
Music does that. You hear a song once, twice, a hundred times, and then one day you hear it again and it unravels you, takes you apart and puts you back together, and becomes a part of you. “Life On Mars?” did that to me.
It remains my favorite on the album. What is your favorite track?
My Top 5 Songs from David Bowie’s Hunky Dory
1. “Life On Mars?”
“It’s a God-awful small affair.
To the girl with the mousy hair.
But her mummy is yelling no.
And her daddy has told her to go.”
“Will you stay in our lovers’ story?
If you stay you won’t be sorry.
‘Cause we believe in you.
Soon you’ll grow so take a chance,
with a couple of Kooks,
hung up on romancing.”
3. “The Bewlay Brothers”
“With our backs on the arch,
and if the Devil may be here,
but he can’t sing about that.
Oh, and we were gone,
real cool traders.
We were so turned on,
you thought we were fakers.”
4. “Oh! You Pretty Things”
“Wake up you sleepy head.
Put on some clothes,
shake up your bed.
Put another log on the fire for me,
I’ve made some breakfast and coffee.
Look out my window,
and what do I see?
A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me.
All the nightmares came today,
and it looks as though they’re here to stay.”
5. “Eight Line Poem”
“But the key to the city,
is in the sun that pins –
the branches to the sky.”
The Cranberries came into my life in 1993, a year after my oldest daughter was born, a year before I would leave a bad marriage and take my life into my own hands. Or, our lives. Today is my daughter’s birthday, and today we lost Dolores O’Riordan, so I’m feeling both nostalgic and melancholy, all at once. When I feel this way Music is what I go to, and it seems only fitting to have a listen to The Cranberries, and write a little something about them.
I wanted to start a new weekly feature called “The Quintessentials” that would feature quintessential (to me) Albums, Artists, Songs, and sometimes Films and Books. Today was when I planned on starting this series, on Mondays. So, in honor of Dolores, of my daughter who turns 26 today, and of the nineties, this week’s Quintessential is The Cranberries.
The Cranberries were formed in Limerick Ireland in 1989 by lead singer Niall Quinn, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, and drummer Fergal Lawler. They were then known as The Cranberry Saw Us. Niall left after one year in with the band and he was replaced by Dolores O’Riordan in 1990, after winning an audition to be in a Band called The Cranberry Saw Us (later changed to The Cranberries).
Here is an early version of “Dreams” from the start of The Cranberries, with Dolores. You can hear the youth in her voice.
The Band released 5 Albums during the span of their career, and one Greatest Hits compilation. They went on hiatus in 2003. Dolores would go on to have a solo career. She married Don Burton, the former tour manager of Duran Duran, in 1994. She reunited with the band in 2009. She has three children, Taylor Baxter, 20, Molly Leigh, 16, and Dakota Rain, 12. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, in 2017. She is said to have struggled with an eating disorder and suicidal issues. She left this earth today, reasons undisclosed at this time.
My favorite Album of The Cranberries was 1994’s No Need To Argue, followed very closely by their debut, 1993’s Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? Let’s take a look at these 2 Albums and my favorite Tracks of each.
Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (1993)
The debut studio Album released in March of 1993. Prior to Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We The Cranberries had released 4 EPs. All Songs were written by Dolores O’Riordan and Noel Hogan. It reached #1 in the UK and Irish Album Charts. (from Wikipedia). It was the 50th best selling Album in Australia, in 1995, and it reached # 18 on the US Billboard Album Charts, selling over 5 million copies in the States.
2. “I Still Do”
3. “Put Me Down”
5. “I Will Always”
No Need to Argue came next, in 1994. This was the year I would see The Cranberries Live, with the man I would marry years later, in 2000, and have two kids with. We were both in love with her voice and those first two Albums, and we were in love with each other.
No Need to Argue was the second studio Album. It was released in 194. It became the band’s best-selling Album, selling about 17 million copies worldwide. “Zombie” was the enormous hit off the Album.
My Top 5 Favorite Songs:
1. “I Can’t Be With You”
2. “Twenty One”
4. “Ode To My Family”
5. “Dreaming My Dreams”
The Cranberries did a few Cover Songs that I love, as well. My favorite is their version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way”. They also covered “Close To You”, originally by The Carpenters, and “In the Ghetto”, originally by Elvis Presley.
“Go Your Own Way” (live)
I will miss your voice, Dolores, and the Music that you had not made yet. I hope you have peace and Music and love wherever you are now. Much love to your family that are still here. Thank you for all the Music.