Hunky Dory is the fourth studio album from David Bowie, released in December of 1971. As much as I love some of Bowie’s stuff, this is the first album that I’ve actually listened to and I feel like it was a full theatrical experience. It has a very showy feel to it but it is so easy and fun to listen to.
Starting with “Changes”, which is an anthem for Bowie’s own re-invention and continually developing style, the album is a start-to-finish success. It reminds me of the combination of Queen, Elton John and The Beatles…that is, if I were to compare Bowie to other artists. There is a very explorative feeling to this album. Its almost like Bowie wants to take us all on an adventure, and when the album starts, its just the vehicle warming up to take us on a fast-paced, dynamic, wild ride through the mind and feelings of Mr. David Bowie.
The reason I haven’t posted about this album for so long is because I feel like I really don’t know how to write about this album and do it justice. Even after reading about Bowie, I feel like I don’t know that much about him, but I feel like there is a really focused sense of artistic and personal expression on this album. So part of me was thinking “Gosh, what do I even do with this?”. But I think that’s part of this experience for me, is listening to these records and being honest with my reactions.
I’m listening to the album right now as I’m writing this, and “Kooks” just came on. I feel like this song captures the overall spirit of Hunky Dory. It’s upbeat, and a bit hokey – sounds a lot like a showtune to me. But that’s just it, I think that the idea of a show or facade echoes is just a guise, and acts as a vehicle to share some of Bowie’s deeper thoughts about how the world works, which he sings about in “Quicksand”. He seems to be confused by religions and “bullshit faith”, among other things, and so his thoughts are like quicksand, that he is sinking into. Much deeper than Hunky Dory sounds! So although Hunky Dory is a name that evokes the idea of happiness, the album is much deeper!
Bowie amps up the beat again with “Fill Your Heart”, which is a perfect contrasting song to follow Bowie’s over-confused thoughts in “Quicksand”. And its pretty clear, he literally suggests filling your heart with love because it will “clean your mind and make you free”. The best, right?
There are also two shoutouts to Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan on the album via the tracks containing their names. In particular, what I loved about “Song for Bob Dylan” is that Bowie emulates Dylan’s vocal patterns and style in parts of the song, particularly the beginning, as he sings “Here it is, Robert Zimmerman”. Doesn’t that sound like a melody Dylan would sing?
I love the diversity of this album. I’ve been listening to it for weeks and I still feel like there is so much that I haven’t given enough thought or attention to, but I’m ready to move to the next album, so I’m going to leave Hunky Dory alone for now.
If you haven’t listened to any Bowie, this is a GREAT album and I am so happy to have listened to it! I think there is another Bowie album on this list, so I look forward to working through that soon!
I want to hear your thoughts about this album. I know some of you out there love David Bowie, and if so, I want to hear more! What do you think about this album?