As It Happened: 1973 Revisited – Bowie Pinups and ‘Drive-In Saturday’

Tomorrow will be this blog’s 7th birthday. I will, however, always associate my foray into the world of music blogging with the death of David Bowie. The anniversary of his death is today, the 10th January, but it wasn’t until the following day that the news broke. It was a massive story, therefore my first post around here had to be about the man and his music (link here). I’ll have to admit that when he first appeared on the music scene in the early ’70s I was a bit too young for him, and being a pre-teen I was more disposed toward the other David, he of the Partridge Family. That of course changed with time, and over the last seven years, during this ‘nostalgic journey through the tracks of my years’, I have become in awe of his many talents and his constant ability to experiment with new genres.

Because David Bowie was not particularly aimed at young teenage girls – although of course many were big fans – I didn’t find many pinups of him in my box of memorabilia, but to mark the day here is a mini-selection from 1973. Can you believe that was now 50 years ago – where has the time gone? Also, despite the passage of time, nothing about David Bowie ever seems outdated (unlike my living room carpet below – apologies). In fact if he were just starting out today, I would wager his music and look of 50 years ago would still hold good. What an amazing era of rock and pop my generation has lived through. We were lucky enough to see our heroes in colour from day one, and the music delivery devices just got better and better. No grainy black and white footage for us. No crackly records, and wonky turntables. We were demographically blessed.

David Bowie pinups from 1973. Below, another kind of Pinups.

To be honest I didn’t really know what I was going to write about when I sat down to blog today but having mentioned the two anniversaries, I suppose it was almost inevitable it would become a David Bowie post. I missed the boat last year as I had thought a 1972 retrospective would have been a great idea for a series, it being the year I really started to get into music. That didn’t happen but I am now thinking 1973 would be a better year to revisit – I had become the proud owner of a Murphy Richards cassette recorder (a Christmas gift); my family had acquired a Toshiba colour television (our local TV Services shop sold one to nearly everyone in the village that year); and, I had moved up to secondary school from junior school, that move tying in with the receipt of decent pocket money with which to buy teen mags featuring our favourite rock and pop heroes. I still have much of the memorabilia from that year, so think I might be onto something. Watch this space as they say.

As for the featured song, it has to be a 1973 hit from Bowie. Three of his four hits from that year (Sorrow, The Jean Genie and Life On Mars?) have featured around here before, so here is Drive-In Saturday, yet another of his singles that peaked at No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart. The reason I know the aforementioned cassette player must have been a 1972 Christmas gift, is because I remember well recording it onto a Philips C90, and listing the song on the insert card. Happy days.

Drive-In Saturday by David Bowie:

It’s still a great sounding song isn’t it but what are the lyrics about? I am still having difficulty working that out at my grand old age, so my 12-year-old self had no chance. Let’s look into it all a bit more. According to Bowie himself, the song was written whilst on a train journey between Seattle and Pheonix and was inspired by the strange lights spotted amidst the barren landscape. It was about a future where people have forgotten how to make love, so they go back onto video-films that they have kept from the ’60s and ’70s. This was after a catastrophe of some kind, where some people are living on the streets and some people are living in domes. They borrow from one another and try to learn how to pick up the pieces.

As I said, my 12-year-old self would never have worked that one out, so I’m glad we now have access to the backstory, although the thought of only having the Carry On films and such like to explain the technicalities of makin’ love, makes me think Bowie’s future race was doomed anyway. Interesting how everyone who writes about a post-apocalyptic world thinks we will either be one of the chosen ones, living in a dome or bubble, or left to fight it out on the streets or in subterranean tunnels. The way things are going that seems about right and I have an awful feeling those making the big decisions over the last few years would end up in the dome, whereas the rest of us… .

The 02 arena where post-apocalypse our glorious leaders will take tips on procreation from Syd James and Barbara Windsor!

Drive-In Saturday is apparently heavily influenced by 1950s doo-wop which again I wouldn’t have realised at the time. I might well have picked up on the name-checks though, as he mentions Mick Jagger, the model Twiggy (who appears with him on the Pinups album cover), Karl Jung and David Sylvian. Ok, so not that last one, but it seems the frontman of the band Japan took his name from the lyrics to this song, where the ‘sylvian’ mentioned is a fissure in the brain associated with visionary and hallucinatory experiences (all very Bowie-esque).

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Little did I think when I wrote that first blog post on 11th January 2016, that I would still be going seven years later, but here I am. Appropriate to have revisited Bowie today as it kind of brings me full circle, with tomorrow marking the start of my 8th year of blogging.

I can safely say my life in 2023 bears no relation to the life I had in 2016 and all the ups and downs have been documented on these pages. I sometimes wonder if the blog had something to do with that, but more to do with the stage in life I had reached I think, when your offspring head out into the world creating their own lives, but at the same time, your parents start needing a lot of help. Thankfully for us DD is in a really good place at the moment, and has an exciting year ahead when the current fiancé will become Mr DD. (Wedding plans well under way.) My little mum is very content in her care home and despite my worry that when her nest egg ran out she would be evicted, there have as yet been no rumblings to that effect. Long may it continue. I’m pretty sure I would never have given up my secure job had I not started blogging but somehow Mr WIAA and I have managed to keep things ticking over via self-employment for the last four years now, so good for us, as being your own boss is on the whole a good thing. There have been stressful times when the work just hasn’t been coming in, but no daily commute or Monday morning blues for us. Every day could bring exciting new opportunities, and you know what, we do occasionally get those days.

But of course the best thing that has come from being a blogger, and more specifically a music blogger, is that I have become part of a little online community. I have met a fair few fellow bloggers in the real world now too, which had been an unexpected bonus from this hobby of ours. I was aged 55 when I started this place and still felt, in my head, quite young. I am now aged…, well you can do the maths, and now I don’t feel… quite so young. Having the pigment in your hair fade and your skin start to lose its elasticity will do that to a person, but all very superficial really, as most of the time I still feel like that 12-year-old girl who was bowled over by her new cassette recorder and who began a life-long relationship with ‘the tracks of her years’. Roll on the next seven years.

Happy Birthday WIAA for tomorrow – Love from Alyson

Until next time…

Drive-In Saturday Lyrics
(Song by David Bowie)

Let me put my arms around your head (do-doo-ah)
Gee, it’s hot, let’s go to bed
Don’t forget to turn on the light
Don’t laugh, Babe, it’ll be alright (do-doo-ah)
Pour me out another phone (do-doo-ah)
I’ll ring and see if your friends are home
Perhaps the strange ones in the dome
Can lend us a book, we can read up alone

And try to get it on like once before
When people stared in Jagger’s eyes and scored
Like the video films we saw

His name was always Buddy
And he’d shrug and ask to stay
She’d sigh like Twig the Wonder Kid
And turn her face away
She’s uncertain if she likes him
But she knows she really loves him
It’s a crash course for the ravers
It’s a drive-in Saturday

Jung the foreman prayed at work (do-doo-ah)
That neither hands nor limbs would burst
It’s hard enough to keep formation
Amid this fall out saturation (do-doo-ah)
Cursing at the Astronette (do-doo-ah)
Who stands in steel by his cabinet
He’s crashing out with Sylvian
The bureau Supply for aging men

With snorting head he gazes to the shore
Where once had raged the sea that raged no more
Like the video films we saw

His name was always Buddy (do-doo-ah)
And he’d shrug and ask to stay
And she’d sigh like Twig the Wonder Kid (do-doo-ah)
And turn her face away
She’s uncertain if she likes him (do-doo-ah)
But she knows she really loves him
It’s a crash course for the ravers (do-doo-ah)
It’s a drive-in Saturday, yeah

His name was always Buddy (do-doo-ah)
And he’d shrug and ask to stay
And she’d sigh like Twig the Wonder Kid (do-doo-ah)
And turn her face away
She’s uncertain if she likes him (do-doo-ah)
But she knows she really loves him
It’s a crash course for the ravers (do-doo-ah)
It’s a drive in Saturday, yeah, yeah

Drive-in Saturday
It’s a drive-in Saturday
It’s a drive-in Saturday (drive, drive-in Saturday)
It’s a drive-in Saturday (it’s a, it’s a, it’s a drive-in Saturday)
It’s a drive-in Saturday (it’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a)
(It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a)
It’s a drive-in Saturday
It’s a drive-in Saturday
It’s a drive-in Saturday
It’s a drive-in Saturday

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days. I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 57 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team, Bacharach and David. The opening line to that song was, "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

24 thoughts on “As It Happened: 1973 Revisited – Bowie Pinups and ‘Drive-In Saturday’”

    1. Thanks Martin. Apart from a couple of short breaks I’ve kept going right through. Would never have anticipated how much I would get out of it all – obviously suits me.


  1. What a lovely positive post, Alyson, with some great insight into the song lyrics too. All science fiction is either utopian or dystopian, and yes, it certainly seems like we’re heading towards the latter. I do hope you follow through with your 1973 flashback plans. I planned a similar 1972 celebration last year as it was the year of my birth, but never got round to it.

    Here’s to another 7 years and many more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did think it would be a good idea to start a new year on a positive note. Whatever is going on in the great wide world, there are still many good things in life and blogging is one of them.

      Yes, quite a thing to imagine the future of the human race down to members of the Tory cabinet holed up in the Millennium dome! Think I’d rather take my chances in the tunnels.

      Looking at my folder of memorabilia yesterday, there is definitely a lot from 1973, so a 50-year retrospective is definitely on the cards.


  2. Happy blogday.
    It’s only when one reflects on the passage of time they note their own growth. Growing older is a given, growing up is optional.
    He did like a dystopian song did Dave. Always different, he seemed to change for every album and the move from Ziggy to Heroes in just 5 years is some feat when you consider the amount of music and touring he got through. Didn’t stop there though, kept moving on to the very end.
    I like Blackstar, just not convinced (like many others are sure) that it’s his best work.
    Quick thought on Pin-Ups: when I first heard it, I thought it was a Pub band (a very good Pub band, but there’s a certain ramshackle-ness to the album)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, RD – very profound words but you are right, growing up IS optional.

      What you said about that period from 1972 to 1977 is so true but I don’t think I would have considered it at the time as I went from the age of 12 to 17 during those five years, and is there ever a time in your life when you change as much as during that period? Five years flashes by in no time nowadays so you are right, for David to have changed genre so much, produced so many albums, acted in films, toured and co-wrote with other people is phenomenal – no wonder the poor guy burnt out.

      I couldn’t afford many albums when Pin-Ups came out so never owned it or listened to it right through. Some very memorable tracks on it but I can see how you might have thought it was a very good pub band. Poor David though, he was selling so much product the record company couldn’t get enough of him so a covers album was fitted in the gap between Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs. And he was still only 26. Amazing.


    1. Thanks Neil – He certainly was creative but as you say he was also very funny (and I don’t mean peculiar). I’ve watched some hilarious interviews with him over the years. Even in his Ziggy guise, there are some outtakes where he can’t stop giggling – somehow I don’t think many people realise how funny he was.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ” I was more disposed toward the other David, he of the Partridge Family.”
    Why is it, Alyson, that I am much more like to sing a Partridge Family or David Cassidy song whilst walking the dogs than a Bowie tune, yet there are no PF/DC records here?? Why??
    Well done on 7 years of blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha – yes, Bowie songs aren’t the most easy to sing along to, the lyrics usually being a bit bizarre – far easier to sing about, ‘Walking in the rain’, or ‘How can I be sure (I shut the gate)’. Engrained in our middle-aged brains.

      Yes, 7 years, not too shabby.


  4. Only recently have I been able to listen to Blackstar without getting weepy. Seven years without Bowie already. Sheesh. Happy birthday to the blog, Alyson. Always enjoy stopping by.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a lovely post, Alyson, I really enjoyed that. I love Drive-In Saturday as your choice too and the lyrical explanation. There is something slightly worryingly but potentially prophetic in there – I’m thinking of the darker side of online videos – oh god let’s hope it never comes to that!
    Love your idea of revisiting 1973 and seeing more things from your wonderful memorabilia box; it’s brilliant that you still have those original Bowie pinups – and looks to me from the photo as if they are in excellent nick – no greasy blu-tac stains or crispy brown remnants of Sellotape…
    But more importantly, a very happy Blog Birthday to you and congrats on 7 great years of WIAA. Here’s to the next 7.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, C. I’ve revisited Bowie songs a few times now and get so much more out of them that I did first time around as the lyrics are now making more sense (although I’m still baffled by much of Life On Mars?). Yes, let’s hope his dystopian future never comes about.

      As for the Bowie Pinups, some are from Jackie magazine and one from FAN. Jackie magazine was printed on lower quality paper and they deteriorate more than the higher quality glossies. I can see a faded line along the left hand side of the middle pic when it must have got sun damage when not stacked in a nice straight pile! No sellotape or blu-tac because in 1973 he wasn’t on my wall – I will reveal over the months who was, and it will most likely be very embarrassing.

      Thanks for the birthday wishes, still a relative newbie compared to the rest of you, but I’ve had many jobs that haven’t lasted that long so quite something.


  6. Congratulations on completing your seventh year of blogging! I do hope you do a 1973 retrospective series this year, as it’s the year that, like you, I became an avid radio listener. I was so excited when my parents gave me a my very own radio for Christmas ’72 – and it was bright red, which seemed the height of cool to me! I also spent a lot of my pocket money on pop magazines at that time, and somewhere I still have some of my old pin-ups from magazines like Jackie and Music Star – I had more of Donny Osmond than anyone else

    I could probably sing all the songs which were in the charts in 1973, even if, as in the case of Drive-in Saturday, I had no idea what the lyrics meant – and I still didn’t, until I read your post. I’m sure if the BBC had realised it was about a time in the future when people would have forgotten how to make love, they would have banned it from Radio 1, just as they banned other records which they thought unsuitable for impressionable young listeners – like Jasper Carrott’s Magic Roundabout, and anything by Judge Dread, although, strangely, not Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lizza – Yes, as we have worked out you are the same age as me and we seem to have almost led parallel lives doing the same things at similar times. It doesn’t surprise me at all then that just like me you spent all your pocket money on pop magazines in 1973 and spent an awful lot of time listening to your shiny new radio. I think I mentioned on another blog that if you turned 13 in 1973 the music of that year is now engrained in your DNA or at least it has found its way into a place in your brain where it will never be forgotten.

      I have this pocket file (the cardboard kind) full of pinups from that year but of course the most interesting part now is what was written on the other side, as back then the journalists of the day didn’t know if someone was going to be a one-hit wonder or last the distance. I think we should have known in the case of David Bowie he would last but it was by no means a foregone conclusion as he had been around for some time plugging away at it before Ziggy arrived.

      Like with you, the file is full of Donny Osmond pinups, but equalling his count is David Cassidy and then a bit later the Bay City Rollers. I have written about the latter two around here but so far no Donny which is remiss of me (although I did a spoof fairytale a while back involving him – not one of my most visited posts!).

      The Princess and the Pea’r: A (Tongue-in-cheek) Work of Fan Fiction

      Lots of those songs would have been banned if the BBC had actually clicked what they were about. I look forward to finding out a lot more about Judge Dread and finding out about all those other lyrics that went straight over my head at the age of 12/13. Will be an education!


  7. By now of course you’re well into your 8th year of blogging, but belated congratulations on turning 7 Alyson – long may you run!
    While in some ways I feel that I know the terrific Russell Harty performance intimately (when the show originally aired, I sat on the floor holding the mic of my own cassette player up to the tv with one hand, while shushing Mum & Dad with the other) I’d quite forgotten (or never noticed) that Bowie fluffed the Jagger line, acknowledging the fact with a little smile to himself. It also occurs to me that this must be one of Woody Woodmansey’s last appearances with the Spiders, as he’d been replaced by the time of the Pin-Ups recording sessions in the Summer.
    I think I’ve mentioned before about the classroom chatter following the release of Pin-Ups. My pals and I were all horrified that Bowie had chosen to cover a load of oldies. Those songs might as well have come from the music-hall era to us 13 year olds, whereas in reality the majority of them were actually only seven or eight years old at the time!
    Looking forward to your 1973 feature – halcyon days!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah thanks very much TS. I would never have guessed how it would all have turned out 7 years ago, and I certainly wouldn’t have anticipated meeting up with other bloggers. A nice thing to have happened at this stage in life I think.

      It’s amazing to think that the clip is from 50 years ago as I still remember those days so clearly. Like you I would have had my cassette player and mic at the ready – the kids of today have no idea what we went through but I’ll wager it all meant a lot more to us. I have watched that clip many times now but didn’t notice the Jagger line being fluffed – well spotted. He would have only been aged 26 then – no eyebrows but great skin! No-one at that stage knew he would go on to reinvent himself many times over. I really don’t feel that song has dated much at all and as it’s in colour it could almost be contemporary. Halcyon days indeed.


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