Hang On to Yourself

Originally Performed ByArnold Corns
Original AlbumSingle (B-Side to "Moonage Daydream") (1971)
Music/LyricsDavid Bowie
VocalsMike, Trey
Phish Debut2016-10-31
Last Played2016-10-31
Current Gap206
Last Update2017-04-23


Like “Moonage Daydream” (for which it was originally released as a B-Side), “Hang On to Yourself” was originally released by Arnold Corns. Corns (portrayed by fashion designer Freddie Buretti), mostly unknown to all but the biggest Bowie fanatics, was effectively the demo version of Ziggy Stardust. Bowie took some time making his idea of a fictional rock star a reality and Arnold Corns was his first draft, so to speak. However, Bowie soon realized that no one could play the role better than him and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was born.

The Corns single is decidedly less rockabilly and lacks the shot of adrenaline injected into the Ziggy version. It also has different lyrics and, unsurprisingly, doesn’t name check the Spiders from Mars. Listening to the Corns version, it’s not hard to see why Bowie decided the song needed more work. Narratively, the song doesn’t add a great deal to the Ziggy saga; it effectively fulfils the promise of “Star” before giving way to the excess of the title track. In Phish terms, “Star” is Vegas ‘96, “Hang On to Yourself” is Vegas ‘00, and “Ziggy Stardust” is Vegas ‘04

Thankfully, unlike Ziggy, The Rise and Fall of Trey Anastasio and the Spiders from Vermont has a set of bonus tracks, of which Vegas ‘16 is just one. Phish’s version of “Hang On to Yourself” is a touch slower than the Ziggy version and features Jennifer Hartswick, Celisse Henderson, and Jo Lampert on backing vocals. It manages to build up a solid head of steam by the end, but, nevertheless, seems likely to suffer the same one-and-done fate as most of the other Ziggy songs.  Wham bam, thank you ma’am!

David Bowie “Hang On to Yourself” London, 1973

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