Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 205
Sat. Aug 4, 2012
I always thought Aladdin Sane’s “Saturday” was Bowie’s ode to drive-in movie experience of yesterday. Even in the early seventies, drive-ins was already becoming nostalgic show of the past. Even so, my parents took us to a watch a few movies at drive-ins when I was little. I remember loving to look up at the giant movie screen, with the stars in the sky, crickets around us and eating popcorn in the car. It was magical, going to the movies without leaving our station wagon. Then we as a family just stopped going. Drive Ins were becoming extinct. What started off as a familial movie event soon turned to a coming of age sexual back seat thrill ride that I sadly; was too young and never got to experience.
It was this type of intimate drive-in encounter that Bowie rallied about in “Drive-In Saturday” as Peter Doggett documents in his 2012 essential book The Man Who Sold The World, when he wrote, “A few months before he wrote the song, Bowie warned British pop fans that they needed to ‘face up to a future which is going to be controlled by the Pill and sperm banks…Man and woman will change…I want to be very optimistic. But I have a hard time being optimistic about the future.”
Bowie took his trepidation about sexual norms and set it in the future as David explained as Nicholas Pegg wrote in The Complete Bowie, “[he saw] the moon shining on seventeen or eighteen silver domes. They gave me a vision of American, Britain and China after a nuclear catastrophe. The radiation has affected people’s minds and reproductive organs and they don’t have a sex life. The only way they can learn to make love again is by watching films of how it used to be done.”
What a crazy idea for Bowie to pen this song in 1973? Teenagers learning about intercourse from motion pictures and porn films, Sound familiar? Sadly this was how I learned about sex, from films and not from sexual education at school or from my parents at home. It doesn’t really sound surprising, you see my parents were always über traditional, kind of like that Dane Cook joke, they were so old— they actually built the old school my parents kept us sheltered us from anything explicit and rarely talked about anything controversial, especially sex. The only time my Papi came close to talking to us about sex was when we are in our late teens and he had found a condom on the street. He sat my brothers and me around the dinner table and asked us if we knew what this was? My response, “It’s a condom so we can go fuck,” quickly cleared the dinner table and ended my Papi’s last and only lesson on sex. The lack of serious conversations made me curious about the opposite sex. These curiosities lead me to explore visuals of that hidden female kitty that I longed to pet. Was it a mistake? Yes and no but I hold no grudges against my parents choices. But that does explain why I, and so many horny souls my age are so visual stimulated because we learned about sex by watching movies?
And here I thought Bowie was talking about drive-ins. I love the doo-wop sound floating throughout “Drive-in Saturday.” It’s such a catchy rhythm for such a weighty and explicit subject. I guess Bowie learned from hero and soon to be Young Americans’ “Fame” collaborator John Lennon, when referring to his anti capitalistic classic “Imagine,” he famously said, “Because it’s sugar-coated, it’s accepted.” The sugary pop sound carries “Drive-in” as David covertly croons about having sex watching porn films, quite genius Mr. Bowie. The Thin White Duke shielded his sex message with the longing for the nostalgic innocence of ‘Twig the Wonder Kid.’ Bowie’s chorus reflected the lyrical child eyed wonderment of a craving for the enchantment of movies where he learned about make believe love and inimitable lust through the magic of the silver screen.
In 1973 Bowie foreshadowed our puritanical future where sex was hardly ever discussed or never truly experienced. Whether singing about “Drive-Ins” or making beautiful music in the back seat of a car, “Saturday” Bowie’s classic cut from Aladdin Sane, like sex, needs to be uncovered, loosely experienced, and celebrated for the enjoyment and sanity of our current and future society. Living in a society that learns to communicate by making love sounds a better and more beautiful place to live than a suppressed culture full of discontented unhappiness and fear.
More than just a soundtrack to getting laid, “Drive-In Saturday,” celebrates the instinctual cravings below the belt. Bowie’s message is that love making shouldn’t be a covert dangerous act. Sex needs be shared. The future lovers of today must explore, without fear, the dream like desires of our natural erections and cravings. This weekend, put on Aladdin Sane, slip into something more comfortable and relive Bowie’s Aladdin Sane’s “Saturday.” “Drive-in,” go deep inside and let the elation of your liberation act of love making, set your mind and body free in every way and twice on Saturday.