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Track Description
"Life on Mars," also known as "(Is There) Life on Mars?," is a song by David Bowie, first released in 1971 on the album Hunky Dory and also released as a single. The song, with piano by Rick Wakeman, has been described by BBC Radio 2 as "a cross between a Broadway musical and a Salvador Dalí painting." When released as a single in 1973, it reached number three in the UK and stayed on the chart for thirteen weeks. In 2015, Neil McCormick, chief rock music critic of The Daily Telegraph, ranked it as number one in his "100 Greatest Songs of All Time" list.

In 1968, Bowie wrote the lyrics "Even a Fool Learns to Love," set to the music of a 1967 French song "Comme d'habitude," composed by Claude François and Jacques Revaux. Bowie's version was never released, but Paul Anka bought the rights to the original French version and rewrote it into "My Way," the song made famous by Frank Sinatra in a 1969 recording on his album of the same name. The success of the Anka version prompted Bowie to write "Life on Mars" as a parody of Sinatra's recording. In notes for a Bowie compilation CD that accompanied a June 2008 issue of The Mail on Sunday, Bowie described how he wrote the song:

Workspace was a big empty room with a chaise longue; a bargain-price art nouveau screen ("William Morris," so I told anyone who asked); a huge overflowing freestanding ashtray and a grand piano. Little else. I started working it out on the piano and had the whole lyric and melody finished by late afternoon.

Bowie noted that Wakeman "embellished the piano part" of his original melody and guitarist Mick Ronson "created one of his first and best string parts" for the song. The liner notes for Hunky Dory indicate that the song was "inspired by Frankie."

One reviewer suggested the song was written after "a brief and painful affair" with actress Hermione Farthingale. While on tour in 1990, Bowie introduced the song by saying "You fall in love, you write a love song. This is a love song."

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Youtube (15,963,909 views)
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Mick Rock

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