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פ.י.מ.פ.

Analyzing Bowie: Velvet Goldmine

Nothing attest to Bowie's artistic potency during the 1971-73 period more than the fact that he could afford letting awesome records like 'Velvet Goldmine' go unreleased. Recorded at the end of 1971, in the beginning of the Ziggy sessions, it was slated at first to be a part of the album, but eventually dropped for being too risqué. It was released only in 1975, apparently without Bowie's knowledge or permission. However, it is definitely a Ziggy track.

You got crazy legs, you got amazing head
You got rings on your fingers and your hair's hot red
You got wit from my tongue, name on the sun
I gotcha going to my breast
Cause you're the only one, who uses school to pleasure

Who is Bowie singing to here? It appears to be a glamorous, sexy woman whom he's about to have some hot sex with. However, the fact that she has red hair and wit from Bowie's tongue suggests another possibility: Bowie is singing to Ziggy, to the creature that he just extracted from his own subconscious, and is about to portray. "I gotcha going to my breast" can be a line about love making, but can also suggest that Ziggy is suckling on Bowie's knowledge and talent.

You make me act real gone, you make me trawl along
I had to ravish your capsule, suck you dry
Feel the teeth in your bone, heal ya head with my own
Why if I don't have you home, we'll have to fight alone
Hang all together

Now they are already getting it on, and again, it can be understood both ways: as a hot intercourse which makes him lose himself to the pleasure and merge with his partner, or as merging with Ziggy and losing himself in the character, which makes him act real gone.

Velvet Goldmine, you stroke me like the rain
Snake it, take it, panther princess you must stay
Velvet Goldmine, naked on your chain
I'll be your king volcano right for you again and again
My Velvet Goldmine

This is pure sex, and the imagery doesn't really need explaining. But the chorus suggests another possibility. "Velvet goldmine" can be a euphemism for a vagina, but it can also be a reference to the treasures you find in the Velvet Underground's music. Going back to the verses we already analyzed, we see that it works as well: it's the music of the Velvets that goes to his breast, that makes him act real gone, that is both school and pleasure, and that makes him feel that he isn't fighting alone. The character of Ziggy Stardust and the songs he sang would not have come to life if it wasn't for the influence of the Velvet Underground.

You're my taste, my trip, I'll be your master zip
I'll suck your hair for kicks, you'll make me jump to my feet
So you'll give me your hand, give me your sound
Let my sea wash your face, I'm falling, I can't stand
Oooh! Put your mink on

More of the same. So, what is the record about? Who is that putting the mink on at the end? Is it a woman getting dressed after their shag fest? Is it Ziggy, putting the last touched on his look that will dazzle the world? Or is it one of the stylish and bizarre characters out of the goldmine that is the Velvet Underground's music? The best answer, of course, would be a combination of all three. Ziggy was a sexual fiend, who got a lot from interacting with other glamorous people and scavenging the music of other bands. In Bowie's world, these actions are all interconnected.

Shoot you down, bang bang

Is Bowie telling us that he intends to kilI Ziggy before this is over? Nevermind. As the record turns into some sort of Slavic kazachok, we can't help but hum along. Forget about the meaning – get down with Ziggy.

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