David Bowie and Alex Turner might not seem like they have all that in common at first glance, aside from the fact that they are now both established as British rock and roll icons. However, the parallels of inspiration surely run deep. In fact, Bowie happens to be one of Turner’s go-to listens for chilling out at home.
Specifically, Bowie’s album Aladdin Sane seems to be the record that Alex Turner has on deck most often. Featuring tracks like ‘The Jean Jeanie’ and ‘Panic in Detroit’, this album was Bowie’s follow-up to the smash hit The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, which was instrumental in cementing his fame. It was the first album that Bowie wrote from a place of success and stardom, which could explain a bit of Turner’s favour of it, especially in 2013, the same year as the release of AM.
Although Arctic Monkeys had been enjoying the wave of indie success for quite some time before 2013, AM produced iconic singles like ‘R U Mine?’ and ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ which prompted a blooming international cult following, radio-friendly crossover, social media hype, and impending celebrity status. However, it seems that at the time he really latched onto Aladdin Sane, he didn’t even know what the band was in for with the success that would come with AM.
As for Turner’s inclination towards Aladdin Sane, there does happen to be one song that he simply can’t stand anymore, but maybe not for the reason you think. When talking with NME in 2013, Turner talked of his love for Los Angeles shortly after his move there to work on the band’s fifth studio album. Among other things, he loved the studios and equipment availability in Los Angeles, in addition to the constant sunshine.
When speaking of his life working and recording in the desert outside of Los Angeles while he worked on AM, he commented on why David Bowie’s ‘Time’ was driving him mad: “I’ve been trying to fix a humming in my home stereo – it’s in the right speaker,” Turner said. “David Bowie’s album Aladdin Sane has been sitting on the turntable so I’ve been playing ‘Time’ – the first song on the second side – whenever I’ve tried to solve the problem. I must have heard that song thousands of times this week… I’ll never be able to listen to it again.”
Although this might sound like a silly reason to stop listening to a song, it’s also safe to say that we’ve all been there. Now, we’re all simply left to wonder if enough time has passed for Alex Turner to return to the beloved midpoint of the album, or if the song truly has been ruined for him forever. He doesn’t seem to have commented on it since, but as AM approaches its tenth birthday, he might just find himself feeling nostalgic for California, Bowie, and “riding [his] motorcycle in December”.
Looking back on AM and the hype that surrounded it, there clearly was at least a bit of a clue of the success that was to come. When quizzed on what the album would sound like before it was even released, drummer Matt Helders replied simply by saying: “2013”. And one could make the argument that this is exactly what they achieved.
Whether Spotify or classic vinyl is your jam, you can capture that 2013 era with ‘Time’. Who knows? Maybe it’s been long enough that even Alex Turner can enjoy the tune again.