Ziggy really sang...
In the June 2002 edition of 'Uncut' magazine, Natalie Merchant is asked to describe her 'Pet Sound' - 'A record that changed her life'. You will remember that Natalie was working at Allaire when David and Tony checked it out as a possible recording location (Journal for Tuesday, May 14th 2002). She covered 'Space Oddity' on her 1999 tour and has also covered 'Starman' live. Her version of 'Space Oddity is available on her 1999 'Live' album.
For 'Uncut', she chose 'The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars' and had much to say in support of her choice :-
'Ziggy Stardust' was one of the first albums I actually bought and studied and listened to obsessively. Then I began to judge my friends by whether they liked it or not. I was harsh! I still have a soft spot for it, because it helped me through my adolescence. It gave me something to identify with and define myself by - 'I feel differently to everyone around me. This is an indication that there's something beyond this mentality and this world view. It's like a message from outer space.'
"The androgynous factor was a big part of the appeal, the confusion of gender, not being accepted by society. When you're 15, feeling like you can't fit in, that's a big theme.
Natalie's last single, 'Just Can't Last', recorded at Allaire
Studios, and featuring Matt Chamberlain on drums.
"I liked his voice, and the lyrics. I knew that it was absurdist poetry for the most part, but it was so much more sophisticated than 'Sweet Home Alabama'. I loved the lyrics to 'Moonage Daydream'. And his concepts were good. You could try to penetrate his world - really intriguing and mysterious. He seemed to dwell in the future. 'Hang On To Yourself' sounds like punk.
"The production's amazing on the record. It's bold and powerful, and the sequencing of the songs is impeccable - the way 'Five Years' segues into 'Soul Love'. Its one of the most impeccable pop records ever made. It went into the pot with everything else I was influenced by. My favourite tracks are 'Five Years' and 'Starman', which I used to cover.
"I still put it on from time to time and I buy new copies if I want to hear it when I'm travelling, or give it to younger musicians who ask me what they should listen to. I've bought five or six copies so far."
You can read more about Natalie's third studio album 'Motherland', here.