David Bowie and Buddy Holly

So here’s some musical archaeology I did yesterday. Like many people, I’ve been listening to a lot of Bowie, including his 1980 hit “Ashes to Ashes” – an incredible song.

Listening to it with fresh ears, I noticed for the first time how much the vocals sound like Buddy Holly – the breathiness, the hiccuping delivery. Then it struck me that Buddy Holly did his own “Ashes to Ashes” – that is, a sequel to an earlier hit. “Ashes to Ashes” is the sequel to “Space Oddity,” picking up the story of Major Tom while obliquely commenting on Bowie’s struggle with addiction, while “Peggy Sue Got Married” is the sequel to “Peggy Sue,” continuing her story while making a sad statement on growing up and the end of innocence.

Then I noticed the lyrical similarities.

Bowie: “Do you remember a guy that’s been/in such an early song?”

Holly: “You recall a girl that’s been in nearly every song?”

Bowie: “I heard a rumor from Ground Control/Oh no, don’t say it’s true.”

Holly: “I just heard a rumor from a friend/I don’t say that it’s true.”

Am I on to something or just geeking out?


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