Song of the Day #4,872: ‘Life On Mars? (Alternate Version)’ – David Bowie

Paul Thomas Anderson’s newest film, Licorice Pizza, is due out later this month, at least in limited release. It might be December before it makes it to my multiplex.

The film is a coming-of-age romantic dramedy starring two first-time actors in Cooper Hoffman (son of Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Alana Haim (of the band Haim). Rounding out the cast are much bigger names, including Sean Penn, Bradley Cooper, Tom Waits and Maya Rudolph. Cooper has a small but flashy role as Jon Peters, producer of A Star is Born and one-time paramour of Barbra Streisand. Beyond that, not much is known about the plot.

The odd title is a reference to a chain of L.A. record stores active between 1969 and 1985. The film is set in 1973.

The trailer is scored with one of my favorite songs, David Bowie’s ‘Life On Mars.’ The 70s setting and romantic comedy vibes makes the film look a bit like a cross between Boogie Nights and Punch-Drunk Love, but with the more relaxed framing of his later films.

In a movie year that’s been rather unremarkable so far, I’m hoping Licorice Pizza continues Anderson’s winning streak of unique, thought-provoking films.

[Verse 1]
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
But her friend is nowhere to be seen
Now she walks through her sunken dream
To the seat with the clearest view
And she’s hooked to the silver screen

[Pre-Chorus]
But the film is a saddening bore
For she’s lived it ten times or more
She could spit in the eyes of fools
As they ask her to focus on

[Chorus]
Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh, man, look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show
Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh, man, wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

[Verse 2]
It’s on America’s tortured brow
That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow
Now the workers have struck for fame
‘Cause Lennon’s on sale again
See the mice in their million hordes
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads
Rule Britannia is out of bounds
To my mother, my dog, and clowns

[Pre-Chorus]
But the film is a saddening bore
Because I wrote it ten times or more
It’s about to be writ again
As I ask you to focus on

[Chorus]
Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh, man, look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show
Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh, man, wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,872: ‘Life On Mars? (Alternate Version)’ – David Bowie

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I am also looking forward to this movie. In addition to Punch Drunk Love and Boogie Nights (two of my favorites by Anderson), Licorice Pizza has an Almost Famous vibe, which bodes well for me liking this one.

  2. Peg says:

    Not sure it’s for me but will decide when I read some reviews. Thanks for explaining the title 😊

  3. Reb says:

    Life on Mars sure is a great song. I’ve been a Bowie fan for almost 50 years now (yikes) but for some odd reason I didn’t become aware of this song until around the time he passed away.

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