The music world lost one of its most visionary and inspirational figures when David Bowie passed away on January 10, 2016. The fifth anniversary of Bowie’s death has been marked by various tribute events, most notably the Mike Garson-helmed A Bowie Celebration: Just For One Day, and having participated in that event, Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott has offered an additional salute to Bowie’s legacy with the release of a new video for Goodnight Mr. Jones from his side band Down ‘N’ Outz.
Opening with the lyric “So the Blackstar finally took you away / And the world seems very different today…” the track, one of the highlights of the Down ‘N’ Outz’ third studio album, This Is How We Roll, references a number of classic Bowie songs. The accompanying video serves as a touching visual homage to Bowie’s legacy, featuring a timeline highlighting some of the singer’s most ground-breaking work.
In 2019, Elliott spoke at length to Classic Rock about the idea behind the song.
“This wasn’t written until a couple years after he [David Bowie] died,” said Elliott. “I was toying with the music, and I was aware of the fact that if somebody came along and put a gun to my head and asked, ‘what does it sound a bit like?’, I’d say, ‘well it sounds a bit like Life On Mars,’ at least with the tempo.
“I wanted a few off the cuff references to previous song titles, but not too many. I remember once hearing song by Barclay James Harvest where they just literally sang every Beatles song title [Titles, from 1975’s Time Honoured Ghosts], and I wanted it to be a lot more subtle than that. So I threw in a few.”
“And ‘Station to Station‘ [a line from the song] isn’t just a name check of his album title. It was actually based on a photograph of Mick Rock’s, where he shows you Bowie and Mick Ronson sat in a British Rail train carriage having lambchop and peas.
“It just kept building and building, and without even saying it Paul [Guerin, Down ’N’ Outz guitarist] just knew we had to sound like Ronson. And when we started putting the end together, I said the tempo was perfect for the Five Years [track from Ziggy Stardust] drum part.
“We own the master tapes of the Cybernauts [Bowie tribute act featuring Elliott, Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen and former Bowie drummer Woody Woodmansey], so we actually sampled him. So it’s Woody Woodmansey doing the end part, which takes into all the right areas.”