I’ve loved David Bowie’s music ever since I discovered the Changesonebowie 8-track in my sisters music collection when I was 9 or 10. But I never really dug into the catalog much beyond the hits. So when Paul Mahern suggested his song “Oh You Pretty Things” for ECHOES, I’m not sure I’d ever even heard it before.
My first thought after listening to David Bowie’s recording was, “I have no idea what this song is about, and anyway it’s a piano song that can’t be done on guitar”. However, I’ve noticed the notion “can’t” is almost always a good thing to challenge. And I also don’t have to know what a song is about to like it. So I started experimenting with singing Oh You Pretty Things in different keys and trying various chord voicings on the guitar and eventually found a way to play it that felt good.
I still had no idea what the song was about, although it reminded me of the Douglas Adams book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Leave it to David Bowie to write science fiction songs. Paul later told me that he’d read that the song was inspired by the X-men comics. I don’t know if that’s true, but it makes sense. To me the message of this song is “Make room for the outsiders and the people that are different, because they are here to stay and in fact, we’re all outsiders in some way.”
For copyright reasons, I can’t reproduce the song lyrics on this page, but I think you can find them online pretty easily.
Oh You Pretty Things appears on ECHOES.