David Bowie once quipped, “I think Mick Jagger would be astounded and amazed if he realized that to many people, he is not a sex symbol, but a mother image.” He’d probably be beyond astounded and amazed, and his reaction would likely linger somewhat closer to offended. However, he’d do well to remember how tongue-in-cheek ‘The Starman’ could be, and to cheer himself up he could tune into ‘Drive-In Saturday’… as this tale will tell.
Bowie was only four years the junior of Jagger, but such was his flailing beginnings in music, he never really got going until the 1970s after The Rolling Stones and co had dominated the 60s in gyrating style. In fact, in 1974 Bowie even said, “People look to me to see what the spirit of the ‘70s is.” Seemingly he thought it was a spirit that was trying to ward off the shackles that had slowly descended on art and society.
He crafted Ziggy Stardust who in the concept of the Spiders from Mars saved the world from its five years prognosis by teaching the youth how to rock ‘n’ roll again. A year later, Ziggy Stardust lay dead on the floor of the Hammersmith Odeon. After years of endless failure, David Bowie stood over the height of his success and announced: “Of all the shows on this tour, this particular show will remain with us the longest… Because not only is it the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do. Thank you.”
However, he was still happy to visit the concept of saving the world from stilted dull drudgery a year later with Aladdin Sane. On the album’s third track ‘Drive-In Satruday’ he throws all-things fifties into the sonic mix for a swinging recreation of the slicked-back era. However, Bowie being Bowie, the sounds are outdated for his lyrical intent as he celebrates the mass liberation of the 1960s.
Thus, the eponymous hip-thrusting frontman Mick Jagger enters the mix alongside Twiggy. These two sex stars of the era help to save the world from an apocalypse of the youth simply forgetting how to have sex. While Jagger’s puppy with a bone sexual dancing style might not be advisable, it was the liberated pouting eroticism that he represented amid pop culture that Bowie was incorporating in the lyrics: “And try to get it on like once before / When people stared in Jagger’s eyes and scored / Like the video films we saw.”
The synopsis of the song, in an unfurling sense, places youths in the desert, driving out to outdoor movie theatres to pick up tricks from the likes of Jagger about how to break the spell of celibacy that Bowie almost ironically extolls befell those who came after the ‘60s. However, despite this touch of irony and the quote that opened this piece, Bowie knew that the sexual symbolism of Jagger would live on long enough to serve his song until 2033 and beyond as he once introduced it.
As he once said himself, “Popstars are capable of growing old. Mick Jagger at 50 will be marvellous – a battered old roue – I can just see him. An ageing rock star doesn’t have to opt out of life. When I’m 50, I’ll prove it.” With the joie de vivre Bowie held right up until the very end, he certainly did that.