5 Unexpected True Stories Behind Famous Gender-Bending Songs

#2. "Lady Stardust"

Do you know this song? You do? Cool, then someone probably called you a faggot in junior high school. Don't worry. It happens to the best of us.

Even more so if you show up to a Halloween dance dressed like this.

Anyway, "Ziggy Stardust" is David Bowie's 1972 classic about an androgynous alien/rock-and-roll messiah. On "Lady Stardust," Bowie sings about Ziggy's androgynous appearance.

The Lyrics:

People stared at the makeup on his face
Laughed at his long black hair, his animal grace
The boy in the bright blue jeans
Jumped up on the stage
And Lady Stardust sang his songs
Of darkness and disgrace

Who It's About:

Well, when I was a kid, I always thought Bowie was singing about Bowie. I mean, as portrayed by Bowie, Ziggy Stardust looked like this:

OK, fine, that's teen me as Bowie as Ziggy. (If I use the pic one more time, I win a prize!)

But then I read that, while performing "Lady Stardust," Bowie sometimes projected images of Marc Bolan of T-Rex or Iggy Pop. It's tough to know which is more accurate. On the one hand, Marc Bolan was certainly a very pretty man.

On the other hand, all the other lyrics sound like Iggy Pop: bright blue jeans, black hair, and animal grace.


The truth is that "Lady Stardust" is what we in the writer biz like to call a composite, which means I don't actually know exactly who "Lady Stardust" is about.

#1. "Jet"

Although "Jet" is a Paul McCartney song, let me take a moment to talk about David Bowie. Don't worry. It'll make sense. Then again, when it comes to David Bowie, I do all sorts of things that don't make sense.

For example, this outfit. (Winner!)

Anyway, I've had a theory for many years that David Bowie deliberately recorded the super accessible and poppy Let's Dance album in 1983 because that was the year he was finally free of his contract with the piggish Tony DeFries, who entitled himself to a whopping 50 percent of Bowie's royalties through 1982. I never wrote about it because there is absolutely no support for such a theory, even though I fully believe it to be true. Now enter young Cracked stalwart Maxwell Yezpitelok. (That might seem like a hard name, but in Max's home country, it means "man with a name that makes small children cry.") Anyway, Max had the same theory but none of the fear of writing stuff with zero contextual support.

Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images
"Sources are for wussies!" (Pictured above: NOT Maxwell Yezpitelok)

Anyway, it was a great article, and when we got to talking, Max dropped another Bowie theory on me that has absolutely zero support and is also totally wonderful. As a Cracked upper classman, I did the only thing I could: I poached it completely and told him if he squealed to the editors I'd tell everyone he secretly hates Teddy Roosevelt and Nikola Tesla (that shut him up).

OK, so Max's theory is about the 1974 hit song "Jet" by Paul McCartney.

The Lyrics:

Jet, I can almost remember their funny faces
That time you told them that you were going to be marrying soon
And Jet I thought the only lonely place was on the moon
Jet Jet Jet
Jet was your father as bold as the sergeant major
How come he told you that you were hardly old enough yet
And Jet I thought the major was a lady suffragette
And Jet you know I thought you was a little lady suffragette
A little lady
My little lady ... yes

Who It's About:

Well, according to Paul McCartney, the song is about a pony he owned. That makes sense, right? Read those lyrics again. Not even McCartney has smoked enough weed for that to make sense. So fuck that. According to Max (and now me), the song is about David Bowie. The song came out in 1974, at the height of Bowie's androgynous glam rock phase, a phase that Macca was certainly aware of and even mimicked, to hilarious results as far as hairstyles go.

Seriously, Macca?

What other support? Well, two of David Bowie's most famous songs by the time this song were written were 1969's "Space Oddity," featuring the outer space exploits of Major Tom, and his 1972 classic rock staple "Suffragette City." Hell, "Jet" even sounds a little like "Suffragette City," stylistically. Further evidence? In the early '70s, Bowie totally looked like a lady.

Can I prove this? Of course not. Does it make more sense than Macca's theory that it's about a pony (that he apparently loves and was gonna marry and mistakenly thought was a lady?). Yeah, safe to say it makes a lot more sense.


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