|Released April 13, 1973|
Writer(s) David Bowie
|Genre Hard rock, glam rock|
|Recorded Trident Studios, London January 1973|
"Cracked Actor" is a song written by David Bowie, originally released on the album Aladdin Sane in April 1973. The track was also issued as a single in Eastern Europe by RCA Records in June that year.
Music and lyrics
One of the album's hard rockers, the song is about an aging Hollywood star in an encounter with a prostitute, the chorus including various allusions to sex and drugs:Crack, baby, crack, show me you're real Smack, baby, smack, is that all that you feel Suck, baby, suck, give me your head Before you start professing that you're knocking me dead
Rolling Stone suggested that Bowie's goal was "to strip the subject of his validity, as he has done with the rocker, as a step towards a re-definition of these roles and his own inhabiting of them". However NME writers Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray considered that the song "reveals little else except that Bowie's capabilities with a mouth-harp are decidedly limited".
Release and aftermath
Following its release on Aladdin Sane, "Cracked Actor" was issued as Bowie's first single for the Russian market, backed with "John, I'm Only Dancing". The timing was supposedly to cash in on publicity emanating from his trip through Eastern Europe on the Trans-Siberian Railway in April–May 1973, shortly before his final Ziggy Stardust tour in the UK.
"Cracked Actor" became a centrepiece of Bowie's 1974 North American tour when he would perform the song wearing sunglasses and holding a skull (à la Hamlet), which he would then proceed to French kiss. The track also gave its name to Alan Yentob's documentary of the tour. In 1983 Bowie revived the song and the sunglasses-and-skull routine for his Serious Moonlight Tour.