Song: Wild-Eyed Boy from Freecloud
Album: Space Oddity (1969)
Personnel: David Bowie (vocals, guitar), Paul Buckmaster (arco bass), Tony Visconti (orchestral arrangements), Mick Ronson (guitar, handclaps)
What I love about this track: Bowie started out in jazz, and then moved on to folk music. “Wild Eye Boy from Freecloud” is a ballad about someone who stands out from society … and not in a good way, according to said society. In Bowie’s own words about the song: “It was about the disassociated, the ones who feel as though they’re left outside, which was how I felt about me. I always felt I was on the edge of events, the fringe of things, and left out. A lot of my characters in those early years seem to revolve around that feeling. It must have come from my own interior puzzlement at where I was” (as quoted in Charles Welch’s We Could Be Heroes).
Trivia: This is reputed to be Mick Ronson’s first appearance on a Bowie recording.
Why I chose this video: While there were some live versions, they cut the song short and segued into another tune. I decided to use this audio-only track from a BBC radio performance with just Bowie and his band rather than a full-on orchestra. There is something elegant in the spare arrangement that speaks to me.