Life on Mars? – A Song of Influence

I would be remiss if I did not discuss those musical influences of my life and of my work. Of course, fictional novels and music are two entirely different mediums. However, I doubt much you can claim to have an appreciation of one without an appreciation of the other. While I was writing my novel, Ruth, I was surprised how often lyrics would come to mind. Situations, background, dialogue – all of it at some point – would have a soundtrack lightly treading its way around my thoughts.

Anyone who says they know me immediately screams, ‘Guns N’ Roses! It’s GN’R, I now her and it’s GN’fucking-R! Well, you wouldn’t be wrong. GN’R has definitely made its presence known here and there while I was writing, usually when I was hammering out the angry bits. That particular band got me through my teen years, rather, helped me survive my teen years so I shall always be grateful.

It’s David Bowie’s, “Life on Mars?” that I can hear perfectly, without taking it for granted, every time and without fail. While I have always valued the health and wealth of society over the health and wealth of the few, I am not without my fair share of disdain for society either. As I addressed in my previous blog, I saw too much in too few years and I know all too well what society is capable of. As an adult, not much has changed this opinion, in fact, every day only serves to confirm it. Regardless of socio-economic status, sex, age, religion, or political views – all humans are capable of garbage. Of contributing to the garbage, of being like garbage. Myself included, I learned that early as well. I often wondered what life on other planets might be like, are we all like this?

And Bowie asked:
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?

When you first hear a song that sympathizes with your harder known point-of-view, you’re not likely to forget it.

I wonder just how many of us know we are all part of the freakiest show and make no mistake, the way we tune in, we are part of a bestselling show. Eventually, there will be another story of the lawman beating up the wrong guy. Oh boy, look at us caveman go.

What I found also unique to “Life on Mars?” was Bowie’s perspective of a young woman and her troubles. To say this is not common, for a male musician, in any way, to acknowledge women in a song that does not have to do with love, sex, and relationships (and vice versa) is something of an understatement. And Bowie did ponder other people, well into his career, the troubles of many demographics.

The day Bowie died, I felt a part of myself shrink for having lost someone who knew how to express what most of would take a lifetime to work out.

I’m always interested to know what influences people when they’re working their craft. Share yours.
Austin, Texas

Published by Christina Schmidt, MA

I'm an author and live in the vibrant city of Austin, Texas. Cheers, y'all.

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