McHank’s Column #3 – Ziggy McHank’s Column #3 – Ziggy

I don’t remember everything in my life very clearly but I do remember being in third grade and talking music with my best friends at the time, Ethan Green and Spencer Hayden. Since my older sister was into it, I knew some new wave, some punk, and whatever I had heard on the radio stations KFRC and KMEL. This would be around 1983. I had seen MTV once or twice but our family was too cheap to pay for cable so music videos didn’t figure prominently in my life at this point.

Anyway, so, the guys brought up music, and they mentioned David Bowie. I thought I had this shit on lock down, and I went into my rant about being an expert, as I knew all three of his songs, “Let’s Dance”, “Modern Love” and “China Girl”.

They both kind of rolled their eyes and were about to show me how little I knew. They both had hip parents, I know Ethan’s parents were young, but I don’t really remember Spencer’s parents’ age. Mine were old and out of touch and decidedly un-hip.

Ethan’s mom’s favorite artist in the world was David Bowie. So, Ethan was already a supreme expert on the subject. (Seriously-I think he knew more then than I do now.) He rambled off titles, and I tried to bluff my way through half of them when he called me on it and had me try to sing even one. If I’d had a stutter, perhaps I could have gotten lucky and faked “Changes.”

The only other song I could even think of by him was “The Little Drummer Boy” duet he did with Bing Crosby. No dice.
So my cat was out of the bag, but the very cool thing was that Spencer had an extra cassette of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, and he brought it and gave it to me.

He gave me a few other tapes but none captivated me like Ziggy. It didn’t have a cover, he didn’t tell me much. He just gave it to me and told me a couple of songs that he liked. I played it a LOT. I had a little Panasonic tape player/ recorder that I got for my birthday that year, that I used to hold up to the TV or the radio and record songs off of them, but this was the first ACTUAL (pre-recorded) tape I had ever gotten, and I was STOKED. I made a cover out of binder paper and taped a picture of Bowie out of a magazine and drew the letters out ZIGGY STARDUST in my creepiest monster lettering.

I ran that tape for years and years, in and out of Walkmen and ghetto blasters and into friends’ cars well into the 90’s. I remember working at the Wherehouse record store (which is actually an untrue sentence—I didn’t do much work there, and they didn’t sell any actual records) and finally deciding, oh, I better grab that on CD.

All the lyrics I had made up and thought I knew, maybe weren’t correct. But that’s kind of how it was, you did the best with what you had. The actual lyrics only improved it once you found out what they were.

So, sorry for the let down, I don’t actually write much about the album itself in this column. But what am I gonna write that tells you how this album will make you feel? Just listen to it. All I can tell you for sure is, that album doesn’t age. Don’t be like third grade me, there is no reason to bluff your way if you don’t know. You’re only depriving yourself.

One Response about “McHank’s Column #3 – Ziggy”

  • Your third grade self was cooler than third grade me. I never knew about music till I got heavily involved in the Christian rap and rock scene during the early 90’s. In fact, I think your third grade self was cooler than me up through adolescence. Why did I even buy that Petra album? How many times did I really listen to DC Talk? did I really wear all of those sleeveless shirts?