Memory of a Free Festival

Before Bowie was Ziggy, before he was The Thin White Duke, before he became African or animated, he was a long haired hipster singing folk songs, looking something like this:

However, also from the same album as Space Oddity was an odd little tune that gave everyone a truer idea of what he was thinking at that time, Memory Of A Free Festival

The Children of the summer’s end

Gathered in the dampened grass

We played Our songs and felt the London sky

Resting on our hands

It was God’s land

It was ragged and naive

It was Heaven

Touch, We touched the very soul Of holding each and every life

We claimed the very source of joy ran through

It didn’t, but it seemed that way

I kissed a lot of people that day

Oh, to capture just one drop of all the ecstasy that swept that afternoon

To paint that love upon a white balloon

And fly it from the toppest top of all the tops That man has pushed beyond his brain

Satori must be something just the same

We scanned the skies with rainbow eyes and saw machines of every shape and size

We talked with tall Venusians passing through

And Peter tried to climb aboard but the Captain shook his head

And away they soared

Climbing through the ivory vibrant cloud

Someone passed some bliss among the crowd

And We walked back to the road, unchained

“The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We’re Gonna Have a Party”

OK, we’ve got Zen Buddhism, Woodstock, Heaven, God, ecstasy, aliens, bliss, and freedom.  And, to finish it off, we’re gonna have a party.  With the references to “Sun Machines”, bliss, and ecstasy, you’d think this song was written this year.  However, it was written a long time ago, about 1967 or so.  Somehow or another Bowie packed everything his world encompassed musically into one song.  And, it also signaled a musical pattern Bowie would follow a lot for about a decade, meandering through a story without really saying anything.    Who are the Children of the summer’s end?  Hippies?  Could be, we don’t really know.  How many people would describe London as “ragged and naive, it was God’s land”?  That’s not the London I know.  Who is Peter and why do we care?  Do Venusians speak English on Venus?  So many questions, no answers.  Just a strange, strange story.  That’s what I liked about Bowie then.  Every good song left you with the feeling of “WTF?”.

Memory of a Free Festival originally appeared on the album Space Oddity: