Life on Mars (USA)/Music

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Life on Mars (USA) uses period music to help establish the atmosphere of 1973. In fact the title of the show comes from the David Bowie song of the same name released in June of 1973. It uses a wide range of tracks generally first released between 1969 and 1973. Each episode tends to have a mix of iconic songs of the time and more obscure tracks from nearly unknown acts. Below is a list of the songs used in each episode as well as mentions of other music related references. The year in parenthesis is the year the song was first released in the US.

Contents

Season 1

1x01 - Out Here in the Fields

Songs Used in Episode

  • Chris Cornell - "Ground Zero" (2008, played during opening scene set in 2008)
  • David Bowie - "Life on Mars?" (1973)
  • Five Man Electrical Band - "Signs" (1970)
  • The Who - "Baba O'Riley" (1971)
  • The Sweet - "Little Willy" (1972)
  • The Rolling Stones - "Out of Time" (1967)

Music References in the Episode

  • The title of the episode is a reference to a line in The Who song "Baba O'Riley" which is played during the episode.
  • When Sam and Annie enter the record store he says it was where is mom bought him his first Hall & Oates album before quickly saying that he meant Led Zeppelin. He changes his choice both because Hall & Oates weren't famous yet in 1973 and because being a fan of them is somewhat embarrasing.
  • Ray says that he has an ass that can fart every Peter, Paul and Mary song ever recorded. The trio broke up in 1970 at the peak of their career and while they have since reunited they haven't reached the same level of success.
  • The bar the detectives drink at is called Along Come Marys which is a reference to the 1966 song Along Comes Mary by The Association.
  • Dora Keene tells Sam that the answer is "Blowin' in the Wind" which is the title of a 1963 protest song by Bob Dylan.

1x02 - The Real Adventures of the Unreal Sam Tyler

Songs Used in Episode

  • Mott the Hoople - "All the Way from Memphis" (1973)
  • Gilbert O'Sullivan - "Get Down" (1973)
  • David Bowie - "Life on Mars?" (1973)
  • Simon and Garfunkel - "I Am a Rock" (1966)

Music References in the Episode

  • Gene sings a song about guns made of gingerbread to the tune of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".

1x03 - My Maharishi Is Bigger Than Your Maharishi

Songs Used in Episode

  • Tommy James & The Shondells - "Sweet Cherry Wine" (1969)
  • The Turtles - "I'm Chief Kamanawanalea (We're the Royal Macadamia Nuts)" (1968)
  • Dusty Springfield - "Just a Little Lovin'" (1969)
  • Marmalade - "Reflections of My Life" (1969)

1x04 - Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadows?

Songs Used in Episode

  • Paul Simon - "Mother and Child Reunion" (1972)
  • The Velvet Underground - "Rock and Roll" (1970)
  • T. Rex - "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" (1971)
  • Jones Brothers - "Lucky Lady" (1969)
  • The Kinks - "20th Century Man" (1971)
  • The Hollies - "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" (1972)
  • The Beach Boys - "Long Promised Road" (1971)

Music References in the Episode

  • The title of the episode is a reference to the Rolling Stones song "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?" released in 1966.
  • Sam sees someone wearing a Nirvana t-shirt and immediately recognizes it as out of place since Nirvana didn't exist in 1973. When he tells Annie she thinks he's talking about the Buddist concept the band was named after.
  • Sam runs into Jim Croce and tells him he was a big of a fan of Croce's song "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" when he was a kid. Croce gets confused because the song was just released a month earlier in April 1973. Sam then tells him to avoid small airplanes because Croce died a few months later in the crash of a small plane in September 1973.

1x05 - Things to Do in New York When You Think You're Dead

Songs Used in Episode

  • Garland Jeffreys - "Wild in the Streets" (1973)
  • Kool Blues - "I'm Gonna Keep on Loving You" (1972)
  • Marion Black - "Come on and Gettit" (recorded 1969-73 unreleased until 2007)
  • Boscoe - "He Keeps You" (1973)
  • The Mighty Indiana Travelers - "Anywhere in Glory" (?, 1969-72)
  • Sly and the Family Stone - "Everybody Is a Star" (1969)
  • Three Dog Night - "Black and White" (1972)

Music References in the Episode

  • The title of the episode is a reference to the movie Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead which was written by showrunner Scott Rosenberg. That movie was named after a Warren Zevon song.
  • Suede makes fun of Sam for liking his rhyme by saying he should be into Three Dog Night instead. Three Dog Night reached #1 on the charts with their single Black and White which was a cover of a song originally recorded by Sammy Davis, Jr. that was inspired by the Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education. Their version cut out the verse specifically alluding to the court decision though. Suede makes this crack because Three Dog Night was an all white group copying black music and he thinks Sam's attempts to connect with him through his rhyming is nothing more than a cheap ploy. Later in the episode Brother Lovebutter plays the song on the radio in Sam's honor because she actually believes his racial tolerance is real.
  • In order to back up his knowledge of freestyle rhyming Sam recites the lyrics to "Ice, Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice. Everyone is thoroughly impressed because it wasn't released until 1990 so it seems to them to be an original freestyle. The authorship of the lyrics to the song are a source of controversy so it's possible this was supposed to be a time travel related solution to the controversy.

1x06 - Tuesday's Dead

Songs Used in Episode

  • The Propositions - "Sweet Lucy" (1972/73)
  • Grand Funk - "We're an American Band" (1973)
  • The Majestic Arrows - "Going to Make a Time Machine" (1975)
  • Cat Stevens - "Tuesday's Dead" (1971)

Music References in the Episode

  • The title of the episode is a reference to the Cat Stevens song of the same name which is also played during the episode.
  • Sam tells Annie that when he met Maya for the first time in a bar Tom Waits was playing on the jukebox. Annie doesn't know who he is. Tom Waits was a singer-songwriter who had released an album in 1973 but wasn't famous until the late 70s when he started to compose the songs for the downtrodden that Sam alludes to. Oddly when we see the scene of Sam meeting Maya later in the episode the only music playing is original score.

1x07 - The Man Who Sold the World

Songs Used in Episode

  • Bread - "Everything I Own" (1972)
  • Steely Dan - "Reelin' in the Years" (1972)
  • David Bowie - "Life on Mars?" (1973)
  • Nilsson - "Spaceman" (1972)

Music References in the Episode

  • The title of the episode is a reference to the David Bowie album and song of the same name first released in 1970. The song was also the B-side to the single release of "Life on Mars?," the song from which the show gets it's name and that is played again during the episode.

1x08 - Take a Look at the Lawmen

Songs Used in Episode

  • The Guess Who - "No Time" (1970)
  • Thin Lizzy - "Whiskey in the Jar" (1972)
  • Darondo - "Legs" (1973)
  • B.W. Stevenson - "My Maria" (1973)

Music References in the Episode

  • The title of the episode is a reference to the line "Take a look at the lawman beating up the wrong guy" in the song the series is named after, David Bowie's "Life on Mars?"

1x09 - The Dark Side of the Mook

Songs Used in Episode

  • Cream - "White Room" (1968)
  • Humble Pie - "30 Days in the Hole" (1972)
  • Sharon Clark & The Product of Time - "I'm Not Afraid of Love" (1970)

Music References in the Episode

  • The title of the episode is a reference to the Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon which was first released in 1973.

1x10 - Let All the Children Boogie

Songs Used in Episode

  • The Action - "Look at the View" (1998, recorded 1967)
  • Traffic Sound - "Yesterday's Game" (1971)
  • The Kinks - "Supersonic Rocket Ship" (1972)
  • David Bowie - "Starman" (1972)
  • Sebastian Grace and the Electric Insects - "The Last Planet I Kissed" (2009, composed for the episode's fictional band)

Music References in the Episode

  • The title of the episode is a line from the David Bowie song "Starman" which is played during the episode.
  • Sebastian Grace is a fictional creation for the episode but the week before it aired someone at ABC put up fake Wikipedia articles on him and his band saying he was real and the show version was just "fictionalized". The text of that article can be found on the Sebastian Grace article. They also released the set list for the episode that included a track by the fake band as if it were a licensed period song. They don't appear to be styled on any one band but are a glam rock group like David Bowie.
  • Gene says he would believe Sebastian's alien abduction story if he were Mel Torme.
  • Young Emily fell in love with music by listening to Love Me Do by the Beatles and also listened to Elvis and The Doors.
  • Emily's dad says she might be in Morroco with the Grateful Dead which wouldn't have been possible as the Dead were touring North America in 1973.
  • Donna lists several rock stars that Emily is not with: Frank Zappa, David Crosby and Keith Richards.
  • Donna says that they met Carl at a Black Sabbath show.
  • Donna lists several bands whose members Emily slept with: Creedance Clearwater Revival, Rod Stewart and Steppenwolf.
  • Donna says Zeppelin is coming to town next month which dates this episode in June of 1973 as Led Zeppelin finished their 1973 US tour with three shows at Madison Square Gardens on July 27, 28 and 29.
  • The posters on Carl's wall appear to be all for fictional bands.

1x11 - Home Is Where You Hang Your Holster

Songs Used in Episode

  • The Sweet - "Ballroom Blitz" (1973)
  • Judy Garland - "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (1939)

Music References in the Episode

  • Sam keeps hearing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz playing implying that he is in another dimension like the Land of Oz but it could also imply that he only thinks he's in another dimension and is actually dreaming similar to what apparently happened to Dorothy in the movie.

1x12 - The Simple Secret of the Note in Us All

Songs Used in Episode

  • Ringo Starr - "It Don't Come Easy" (1971)
  • Traffic Sound - "Lux" (1971)
  • Moody Blues - "Isn't Life Strange" (1972)

Music References in the Episode

  • The title of the episode is a line from the Pete Townshend song "Pure and Easy" released in 1972 on his first solo album.

1x13 - Revenge of Broken Jaw

Songs Used in Episode

  • Elton John - "Rocket Man" (1972)
  • Moody Blues - "Go Now" (1964)

1x14 - Coffee, Tea or Annie

Songs Used in Episode

  • Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel - "Fakin' It" (1968)
  • Shocking Blue - "Venus" (1969)
  • The Partridge Family - "Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque" (1970)

Music References in the Episode

  • Annie says that Valerie was a huge David Cassidy fan and Sam mentions the Partridge Family song "I Think I Love You." David Cassidy was the lead singer and star of The Partridge Family a series about a fictional family that forms a band. Cassidy recorded several albums with studio musicians that were released under the Partridge Family name and the first big single was "I Think I Love You." Both "Love You" and the Partridge Family song played at the end of the episode were written by the same man, Tony Romeo.

1x15 - All the Young Dudes

Songs Used in Episode

  • Jim Croce - "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" (1972)
  • Mott the Hoople - "All the Young Dudes" (1972)

Music References in the Episode

  • The title of the episode is a reference to the Mott the Hoople song of the same name which was written and produced by David Bowie and is played during the episode.
  • Sam uses the alias Sam Bono while undercover with the Irish gang. Bono is the Irish lead singer of the band U2 which didn't form until 1976. Bono is just his stage name though and is not Irish but Italian. This combined with the fact that Sonny Bono was a well known musician and TV personality in 1973 makes it a questionable choice for an Irish alias.

1x16 - Everyone Knows It's Windy

Songs Used in Episode

  • Lou Reed - "Satellite of Love" (1972)
  • The Raspberries - "Go All the Way" (1972)
  • The Association - "Windy" (1967)

Music References in the Episode

  • The title of the episode is a chorus line from the song "Windy" written by Ruthann Friedman and originally recorded by The Association. The song is played during the episode. The character Windy was probably named after the girl in the song.
  • Sam mentions that he and Windy danced to Simon & Garfunkel.
  • Agent Morgan tells Sam he is a member of the Dream Police. Dream Police was a song by the band Cheap Trick released in 1979 on the album of the same name. The song is about police that come after a man in his head whenever he falls asleep.

1x17 - Life Is a Rock

Songs Used in Episode

  • Reunion - "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)" (1974)
  • Elton John - "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" (1972)

Music References in the Episode

  • The title of the episode is the same as a song recorded by a group of studio musicians playing under the name Reunion. It was the only song released by the group. The lyrics to the song include a fast patter of music references from the '50s, '60s and '70s many of which were played or referenced on this series. It is played during the episode.
  • Windy says David Bowie asked her to move to Spain with him and raise praying mantises and Sam asks why everything seems to come back to David Bowie.
  • Carling says he and his fellow detectives are going to the Snug to "attempt to drink up all the salty margaritas" in the city; the 1976 Warren Zevon song "Desperadoes Under the Eaves" contains the line, "All the salty margaritas in Los Angeles, I'm gonna drink 'em up."
  • At the end Keitel's character is named "Major Tom" so that the line "Ground Control to Major Tom" could be used in reference to the opening line of David Bowie's song "Space Oddity." Additionally, "Major Tom (Coming Home)" is a 1983 song from the album Error in the System by Peter Schilling. Schilling's song was an homage of sorts to Bowie's original character.