"Life On Mars" has some incredibly inspired chord work in it which requires some pretty good guitar chord chops to pull off well. There are tons of bar chords, chord inversions, augmented chords, diminished chords and 7th chords throughout the song. David Bowie makes it all work with an incredibly brilliant musical statement.
I would suggest your playing be at an intermediate level in order to attempt to play "Life On Mars" on the guitar. It is a very nice challenge for most guitar players but very rewarding in the end.
At the time I am writing this, it has now been exactly a week since David Bowie passed away. I have done many Bowie songs this week as a tribute, but I also did a post asking you guys to leave me a comment letting me know the one David Bowie song you would most like for me to transcribe. "Life On Mars" won overwhelmingly, so I took on the challenge to transcribe it for guitar for you guys.
There will be four sections of the song to get your hands on. The verse, which I use an arpeggio picking style on in order to more closely follow the sound of the original piano recording. The pre-chorus which builds to the chorus with a very unique chord progression. The chorus in which I will open up the picking style and play it with a more standard 8th note strum feel and the chorus out that has two different versions depending on which part of the song it is.
I think learning "Life On Mars" is a great chord study not only for the hands, but can also show you how adventurous you can be with chord progressions even in pop music. Today's pop music seems to have everything simplified as much as possible and I think a lot of great musical ideas are left on the cutting room floor because there aren't enough artists like David Bowie, The Beatles or Led Zeppelin around to push the creative envelope anymore.
Hopefully learning this lesson will help inspire you to push your own creative envelope and bring some more inspired music into the world. Good Luck! R.I.P. David!
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