Yes, I know. Ziggy Stardust is a concept album. It’s a long, elaborate story about an alien rock star and the end of the world. If you want to be strict about it, none of the songs should be looked at, lyrically, in isolation. Doing so adds a false element to the work, even if the story of Ziggy was less of a magnum opus than the music that accompanied it.
But. But — looking at Bowie as a whole, for a moment. The entire catalogue, from the mid-60s until January 2013. What recurrent themes do you have? Aliens and spaceships. All the way up to Heathen — whose cover of “I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship” was a nice nod to Ziggy. Love and gender — or rather, love, and winks at gender. The latter half of this, mostly dropped after the 70s. And God. There’s a lot of references to God, spirit, spiritual longing, looking into the ether and trying to figure out what’s there — and what place there is for him.
With the exception of, say, Fantastic Voyage, politics and political subjects are almost entirely absent. I’m one of the few, perhaps, who doesn’t even see Fantastic Voyage as a very political song. At its root, it’s still about humanity, about intrinsic — spiritual — value.
In Soul Love, Bowie sings:
Soul love – the priest that tastes the word and told of love
And how my God on high is all love
Though reaching up my loneliness evolves
By the blindness that surrounds him
Pretty deep. Especially for an alien rock star.