Cultural Toolbox - 'Hunky Dory' by David Bowie


With John away this week, Shane was joined in studio by Colm O'Hare of Hot Press magazine. 

Given it was Colm picking this week's choice, it's no surprise it was a musical one. And following on from another David Bowie selection a few months ago, it's another of the great man's albums up for discussion this week - specifically 1971's Hunky Dory.

"People might argue that Ziggy Stardust or Aladdin Sane are more cohesive... but I think it's his most complex and impressive album," Colm suggested.

"He just came up with some great songs. The arrangements are very ambitious. The sound of the album is brilliant. It was recorded at Trident Studios - a studio known for its great piano sound, and there's a lot of piano on this album."

Shane observed, "I'm looking at the first four songs on it - you've got Changes,Oh! You Pretty ThingsEight Line Poem and then Life on Mars? Three of those songs are classic. That's some start to an album".

Colm added that everybody in north Co Dublin seemed to have the album when he was a young teenager, and that the album had a huge impact on his generation. "It rubbed off on people like U2 who were knocking around then - they even named themselves 'The Hype' after one of Bowie's bands," he recalled.

They also discussed some of Bowie's eccentricities and his unique style, not to mention some of the curious cultural reference points on the album. "I didn't know who Robert Zimmerman was then," Colm laughed. "We know that's Bob Dylan [now]. I hadn't heard of Andy Warhol... He even gets Heinrich Himmler into a song", with Shane wondering "what rhymes with Himmler?".

"The lyrics are a little bit nonsensical," Colm suggested. "Like 'Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow' - what does that mean?"

Back to top