David Bowie – Life on Mars (Chords)

David Bowie – Life on Mars (Chords)

Bowie played a huge part in my musical development. Back in my school days, the first band I was ever in was basically a Ziggy-and-before Bowie tribute band. I learnt a whole bunch of fancy chords from Life on Mars. And there are many, many chords in it (just one chord short of the record-holding So Long and Thanks for All the Fish).

The song is a real masterclass in using chords. So many of the chord changes involve changing just one or two notes (something I’ve done my best to preserve for the uke version). That’s particularly true of my favourite section of the tune: the pre-chorus. It creates a huge build up of tension by having rising chromatic notes (on the C-string then the E-string) against a fixed background.

For the chords in the pre-chorus (one other) I’ve suggested chords that only use three strings to make things a bit easier. I do that by bringing my thumb around the neck and use it to mute the g-string (an X above a string on the chord diagram means it’s muted).


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  1. Mike February 3rd, 2016 11:09 pm

    Elegantly presented. Thanks!
    Not that it makes a lot of difference, but after the Cm I always like to slide up to the sixth fret for the Ebm7. Some folks will find the transition smoother and for me it evokes the texture of the original.

  2. wastad February 4th, 2016 7:26 am

    thanks – anymore to come?

  3. Woodshed February 5th, 2016 10:30 am

    Mike: Thanks! Definitely a good alternative.

    wastad: I may have shot my Bowie-load with yesterday’s post! But there’s every chance I’ll do another in future.

  4. Mark February 5th, 2016 8:40 pm

    Blimey! That’s a mental stretch, but I reckon I’ll get there. Thanks

  5. Woodshed February 6th, 2016 8:11 am

    Mark: Thanks! Good luck with it.

  6. Andreas April 18th, 2016 5:36 pm

    Quite a challenge! Thanks!

  7. Woodshed April 19th, 2016 9:13 pm

    Andreas: You’re welcome!

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