When Charles Foster Kane uttered his last word, “Rosebud”, on his deathbed in Orson Welles’, 1941 masterpiece Citizen Kane, he immediately captured the attention of cinema goers all over the world
For what or who, could this Rosebud possibly be? What could this great man – this publishing tycoon – long for so badly, during his last few seconds as a living human.
I’m quite positive, that I’m not the only one, who sat back with goosebumps when the last 30 seconds of the movie revealed, that Rosebud – at this point burning up in flames with the rest of his belongings – is nothing less than his childhood sleigh.
Nothing is greater than the greatness of childhood. That silly world of innocence and joy, you’ll forever long for in adult life.
The song ‘Inchworm‘, could easily have been David Bowie’s Rosebud. The song that influenced some af his greatest work.
Whether it was, or not – we’ll never know. But here’s what he once said about the song:
“‘Inchworm’ – which was sung by Danny Kaye in the 1952 movie Hans Christian Andersen – was a big influence on ‘Ashes To Ashes‘. I loved it as a kid and it’s stayed with me forever. I keep going back to it. You wouldn’t believe the amount of my songs that have sort of spun off that one song. Not that you’d really recognize it. Something like ‘Ashes to Ashes’ wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t have been for ‘Inchworm’. There’s a child’s nursery rhyme element in it, and there’s something so sad and mournful and poignant about it. It kept bringing me back to the feelings of those pure thoughts of sadness that you have as a child, and how they’re so identifiable even when you’re an adult. There’s a connection that can be made between being a somewhat lost five-year old and feeling a little abandoned and having the same feeling when you’re in your twenties. And it was that song that did that for me.”
David Jones’ soon sky rocketing career, had a slow start. His 1967 solo single, ‘The Laughing Gnome‘ – using speeded-up thus high-pitched vocals – failed to chart. Six weeks later, his album debut, David Bowie, an interesting brew of pop, psychedelia, and music hall met the same fate. It was his last release for two years.
At this early stage in his career, and highly influence by Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett, the freshly renamed David Bowie’s approach to music was of the more whimsical kind, embracing a fairytale-like, dreamy children’s world, embracing genres and styles, like music hall and waltz.
The influence of ‘Inchworm’, can easily be heard on a song like ‘After All‘, from this 1970 album, The Man Who Sold The World.
The line “Live til your rebirth and do what you will”, (often cited as a homage to occultist, Aleister Crowley) stand out greatly, while the song continues in the same nursery rhyme vein of Bowie’s early songs, ‘There Is A Happy Land‘ and the aforementioned, ‘The Laughing Gnome’, from his self-titled debut album from 1967.
Thankfully, it wouldn’t be long now, before David – with a little help from girlfriend Angie – would find a way to paint a larger picture of himself for the whole world to enjoy.
Ziggy Stardust was about to be born and the rest is history.
David, or Ziggy, or however he was, went back to space on 10th of January, 2016.
Words: Anders Knudsen