Song of the Day #2,870: ‘The Jean Genie’ – David Bowie

aladdin_sane_david_bowieIn 1973, less than a year after the release of Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie put out another classic album. Aladdin Sane introduced a new Bowie alter ego, which Bowie described as “Ziggy Goes to America.”

The songs were largely written while Bowie toured the U.S., but while the lyrics reflect his take on the states, the music remains rather British. Opening track ‘Watch That Man,’ in particular, is straight-up Rolling Stones. Bowie even underscores that influence by covering ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ later on the album.

The album’s title is a tweak on “A Lad Insane” — Bowie sure does like his wordplay. Mental illness ran in his family and he often wondered if and when he would fall victim.

Bowie stretched his sound into plenty of new directions on this record. The title track features a frantic, avant-garde piano solo by keyboardist Mike Garson. Closing track ‘Lady Grinning Soul’ is a lush, tres French ballad worthy of a Bond film. ‘Panic in Detroit’ is a blissful, manic piece of calypso grunge.

Aladdin Sane‘s biggest hit was ‘The Jean Genie,’ featuring a riff so good it was stolen by British glam rock band Sweet.

{Intro}

A small Jean Genie snuck off to the city
Strung out on lasers and slash back blazers and
Ate all your razors while pulling the waiters
Talking ’bout Monroe and walking on Snow White
New York’s a go-go, and everything tastes nice
Poor little Greenie

{“Get back one”}

The Jean Genie lives on his back
The Jean Genie loves chimney stacks
(The Jean Genie) he’s outrageous, he screams and he bawls
The Jean Genie, let yourself go

{Bridge}

Sits like a man, but he smiles like a reptile
She loves him, she loves him, but just for a short while
She’ll scratch in the sand, won’t let go his hand
He says he’s a beautician and sells you nutrition
And keeps all your dead hair for making up underwear
Poor little Greenie

The Jean Genie lives on his back
The Jean Genie loves chimney stacks
(The Jean Genie) he’s outrageous, he screams and he bawls
The Jean Genie, let yourself go

{Bridge}

He’s so simple minded, he can’t drive his module
He bites on the neon and sleeps in the capsule
Loves to be loved
Loves to be loved

{Long bridge}

The Jean Genie lives on his back
The Jean Genie loves chimney stacks
(The Jean Genie) he’s outrageous, he screams and he bawls
The Jean Genie, let yourself go

Go
Go

The Jean Genie lives on his back
The Jean Genie loves chimney stacks
(The Jean Genie) he’s outrageous, he screams and he bawls
The Jean Genie, let yourself go

Go
Go, go

{Outro}D

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One thought on “Song of the Day #2,870: ‘The Jean Genie’ – David Bowie

  1. Dana says:

    I’ve heard this song dozens of times and never heard the “the” before Jean Genie. I also had always assumed he was singing “Jean Jeanie.” The Jean Genie makes more sense.😄

    I also never thought too deeply about the musical style of the song and knew nothing about the album from which it came or the US and Rolling Stones influence, but now I can clearly hear those influences.

    So informative, this blog is!😄

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