Oh! You Pretty Things – Unraveling the Psychedelic Prophesy of Change


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for David Bowie's Oh! You Pretty Things at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Dawning of Homo Superior: A Genomic Revolution
  5. Piercing the Veil of the Mundane: A Crack in The Sky
  6. Decoding the Golden Ones: Who Will Inherit the Earth?
  7. Heralding a New Race: The Earth is a Bitch
  8. Memorable Lines That Echo Through Time: The Insanity of Evolution

Lyrics

Wake up, you sleepy head
Put on some clothes, shake up your bed
Put another log on the fire for me
I’ve made some breakfast and coffee
Look out my window, what do I see
A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me
All the nightmares came today
And it looks as though they’re here to stay

What are we coming to?
No room for me, no fun for you
I think about a world to come
Where the books were found by the golden ones
Written in pain, written in awe
By a puzzled man who questioned
What we were here for
All the strangers came today
And it looks as though they’re here to stay

Oh, you pretty things (oh, you pretty things)
Don’t you know you’re driving your
Mamas and papas insane?
Oh, you pretty things (oh, you pretty things)
Don’t you know you’re driving your
Mamas and papas insane?
Let me make it plain
Gotta make way for the Homo Superior

Look out at your children
See their faces in golden rays
Don’t kid yourself, they belong to you
They’re the start of the coming race
The earth is a bitch
We’ve finished our news
Homo Sapiens have outgrown their use
All the strangers came today
And it looks as though they’re here to stay

Oh, you pretty things (oh, you pretty things)
Don’t you know you’re driving your
Mamas and papas insane?
Oh, you pretty things (oh, you pretty things)
Don’t you know you’re driving your
Mamas and papas insane?
Let me make it plain
Gotta make way for the Homo Superior

Full Lyrics

In the pantheon of rock and glam, David Bowie stands as a shapeshifting deity, forever enchanting us with his chameleonic artistry. Among the glitter-strewn path of Bowie’s discography, ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ from the 1971 album ‘Hunky Dory’ glistens with particular intrigue. Less a song than an augury, this track heralds a revolution not of politics but of consciousness and evolution.

Through a cascade of piano chords and a voice at once detached and intimate, Bowie weaves a narrative tapestry where humanity stands at the precipice of profound transformation. Underneath the song’s deceptively simple melodies lies a complex exploration of mankind’s next evolutionary leap, ominously hinting at the obsolescence of Homo sapiens in favor of a new species: Homo superior.

The Dawning of Homo Superior: A Genomic Revolution

The centerpiece of ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ is the notion of ‘Homo superior’—a new, advanced human species. Bowie’s lyricism here reflects the zeitgeist of the early ’70s, infused with ideas of Nietzschean philosophy, space-age wonder, and unbridled optimism for technological advance. However, beneath the surface, these phrases challenge the listener to consider humanity’s trajectory and our own obsolescence.

Such themes resonate with the burgeoning interest in eugenics, space travel, and artificial intelligence of the era. Bowie, a keen observer of society and a raconteur of the future, laces his predictions with an emotive plea. The ‘pretty things’—the youth, the next generation—are both the heralds and the harbingers of this cosmic shift, much to the chagrin of their ‘Mamas and papas’.

Piercing the Veil of the Mundane: A Crack in The Sky

‘A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me,’ Bowie sings, conjuring an image steeped in biblical proportions. This ‘crack’ serves as a metaphorical gateway to enlightenment, to change. It is through this tear in the firmament of normalcy that Bowie suggests a new truth will emerge, one that promises to unsettle the foundations of our reality.

As ‘all the nightmares came today,’ the dystopian undertones ring clear. Bowie masterfully conflates the comforts of domestic life with the specter of existential dread, pushing the boundaries of what constitutes a rock anthem. This crack represents existential dread, longing, and the inevitable change, all coalescing into a single, penetrating vision.

Decoding the Golden Ones: Who Will Inherit the Earth?

The ‘golden ones’ are enigmatic figures in Bowie’s cosmic play—those destined to decode the wisdom of the past, written in pain and awe. These inheritors of Earth’s legacy are bright with the flush of knowledge and potential. Bowie’s ‘golden ones’ might be interpreted as a new age of children, possibly those with heightened consciousness or even the literal interpretation of an alien species meant to succeed us.

The song serves as an ode to these vessels of the future, those who will look upon the works of ‘Homo Sapiens’ and perhaps muse on our primitive ways, whose faces ‘in golden rays’ shine with an otherworldly grace. The theme ties in with Bowie’s recurrent fascination with the extraterrestrial and the superhuman, carving them into his artistic mythology.

Heralding a New Race: The Earth is a Bitch

Underneath its whimsical veneer, ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ harbors a dark proclamation: ‘The earth is a bitch / We’ve finished our news.’ Bowie’s lyrics invoke the wry acceptance of the end of an era—the final curtain call for mankind as the dominant species. This stark announcement captures the dual nature of the epoch: the death cries of one age and the birth song of another.

In this line, Bowie aligns himself with environmental undertones that have only grown more urgent with time. Yet, he offers a silver lining in the guise of progress, even if it means mankind’s own creations or progeny might phase us out. It’s a sobering reminder of our own mortality and the fleeting dominion we have over our planet.

Memorable Lines That Echo Through Time: The Insanity of Evolution

‘Don’t you know you’re driving your Mamas and papas insane?’ repeats like a mantra throughout the song. These memorable lines underscore the generational chasm widened by the painful process of evolution. As much as it is about interstellar futures, at its heart, the song captures the perennial story of youth outpacing the old, rewriting scripts and rebuffing traditions with radical new ideas.

The phrase ‘Let me make it plain / Gotta make way for the Homo Superior’ encapsulates the song’s essence. It bridges the philosophical with the earthly, seeding the notion of biological destiny into the terrain of popular music. It’s a timeless lyric, marrying melodious simplicity with the depth of a mankind at the crossroads, and it continues to resonate as we barrel deeper into the technological and genetic unknown.

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