Marc Bolan was a poetic genius, as well as the lead singer of the 70s English glam-rock band T. Rex. The band was formed by the genius himself in 1967. Bolan wrote most of the band’s material as well as provided most of the sweet guitar riffs and rhythms. The band is popularly known for the birth of hits such as: Get It On (Bang a Gong), Children of the Revolution, Metal Guru, and Telegram Sam. Often “music snobs” claim that Marc Bolan’s lyrics were nonsensical gibberish fueled by fame and drugs, however they are dumb and that’s just not the case.
Bolan is widely known for his poetic and neo-romantic lyrics seen frequently on the first few albums of T. Rex.
“Ballrooms Of Mars” appeared on T.Rex’s 3rd studio album, The Slider.
In this sweet sweet jam, I believe that Bolan is speaking to one he deeply loved that he is loosing or perhaps has already lost, reassuring him/her that when he/she is gone, all will be fine and they will stay together although they could never be farther apart. They will stay together, dancing in the ballrooms of mars. Certain lyrics obviously apply more literal to this idea than others.
You gonna look fine
Be primed for dancing
You're gonna trip and glide
All on the trembling plane
Your diamond hands
Will be stacked with roses
Roses-being a metaphor for all things sweet.
And wind and cars
And people of the past
I'll call you thing Just when the moon sings
And place your face in stone
Upon the hill of stars
-I like to believe that this is one of the slightly more obvious parts of his lyrics. Placing his/her face in stone would be referring to a gravestone, placed on the hill of stars, desolate, romantic, peaceful, poetic.
And gripped in the arms
Of the changeless madman
-again with the dance metaphor. This is how Marc would like things to have been, the freedom between the two, however this type of carefree love might not have been attainable with out this person leaving..to the Ballrooms of Mars. In the Ballrooms of Mars
-Although “Ballrooms of Mars” are only referenced once specifically in this poem, It plays a constant role throughout the entirety of this piece. I think best understand it as a metaphor for this “place” that is equidistant between life here on earth and the heaven/hell from above/below. “Ballrooms of Mars” is a metaphor for the places that one on earth visits to connect with one they have lost. The Ballrooms of Mars are a common ground that both can go to and share lost time together.
You talk about day
I'm talking 'bout night time
When the monsters call out
The names of men
Bob Dylan knows
And I bet Alan Freed did
-I bet Alan Freed found out that “there are things in night that are better not to behold”
There are things in night
That are better not to behold
-Night meaning life on earth. There are things that, now that he/she is gone, it is better that he/she doesn’t have to deal with some of the negative things we have to deal with on earth. You will be better off, happier, in the afterlife-again Bolan is reassuring his lost love
With your lizard leather boots on
-alliteration:lizard leather boots on
And pull the strings
That change the faces of men
You diamond browed hag
You're a gutter-gaunt gangster
John Lennon knows your name
And I've seen his
Then you get to the end of the song, and you’re like, woah wait, what happened to everything I just said this song was, this last part makes no sense.
Well, this last part the narrative shifts to third person. Bolan is now reflecting upon himself. Through this song Bolan has uncovered things about himself that he points out and discovers towards this last stanza. He was apart of the glam rock movement in England during the 70s. Bolan’s feminine fashion choices definitely turned heads. He was an influence and style icon to boys following the glam trend, “changing the faces of” stereotypical ordinary “men” of that time.
As far as the reference to John Lennon goes, this album came out in 1972, if I am correct this was around the same time Ringo and Bolan were hanging out working on a film I believe, and maybe some side music projects, however it was around this time that John Lennon and Bolan got to know each other better.
Lennon was later quoted saying, “"In today's pop music, there are only two things that interest me: rock 'n' roll and avant-garde poetry. Only one group today is of interest to me, Marc Bolan and T.Rex. He is the only one who has excited me and I look forward to meet him again. His music is good rock 'n' roll; it has good beat and it really swings. But it is mainly his lyrics that amaze me....Marc Bolan is the only one who can succeed to The Beatles."
Obviously as an artist that is a huge accomplishment. At the end of this song, Bolan reflects on his life so far. Is he content? Could he enter “Ballrooms of Mars” from the other side?”
.. he would probably laugh at all of this.