Lyrics Quiz: Was It the Beatles or David Bowie?

By: Isadora Teich
Image: Philips (UK), Mercury (US)

About This Quiz

Do you have rock god level knowledge of rock & roll? The Beatles and David Bowie created some of the most influential music in the world. While The Beatles changed popular music forever over the course of what was about a single decade, David Bowie spent the whole second half of the 20th century reinventing himself and his sound again and again. While these are some very different musicians, they both have had a massive influence on a global scale. Both have massive followings and have had a huge influence not only on music but on pop culture as a whole. 

The Beatles was, of course, a band of four men: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. All are rock and roll legends in their own right who made unique and important contributions to the band and continued to make music after The Beatles split up. The Beatles are known for making the idea of a band writing and performing its own music and experimenting artistically mainstream. Before them, singers and bands would perform music, but it was usually old standards or things written by others. David Bowie pushed their legacy even further with intellectual thematic lyrics and boundary-pushing sound and vision. 

If you are a rock fan who knows their stuff, see if you can tell Bowie and Beatles lyrics apart with this HowStuffWorks quiz.  

"This is Major Tom to Ground Control / I'm stepping through the door / And I'm floating in a most peculiar way / And the stars look very different today"

"Space Oddity" is a 1969 song by David Bowie, and was his breakthrough. Major Tom is a recurring character he created who appears in other songs.

"We can be heroes / Just for one day"

The song "Heroes" is by David Bowie from the 1977 album of the same name. This is one of his most famous and acclaimed songs.

“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away / Now it looks as though they’re here to stay / Oh, I believe in yesterday”

"Yesterday" is a Beatles song off of their 1965 album "Help." Paul McCartney dreamed the melody of it.

"Come out of the garden, baby / You'll catch your death in the fog / Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs"

"Diamond Dogs" is the title track of Bowie's 1974 album. Initially, he wanted to create a musical based on the Orwell "1984," and those songs became parts of this album after that didn't work out.

“Doesn’t have a point of view / Knows not where he’s going to / Isn’t he a bit like you and me?”

This line comes from "Nowhere Man." It is off of the 1965 Beatles album "Rubber Soul."

"News guy wept when he told us Earth was really dying / Cried so much that his face was wet / Then I knew he was not lying"

"Five Years" is the opening track of the 1972 David Bowie Album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars." This song is thought to be partially inspired by a dream Bowie had where his father warned him that he would die in five years if he ever flew again.

"Look up here, I’m in heaven / I’ve got scars that can’t be seen / I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen / Everybody knows me now"

"Lazarus" is a song off of David Bowie's final album before his death in 2016, "Blackstar." Many think he included clues of his impending death from illness on the album.

“And when the brokenhearted people / Living in the world agree / There will be an answer, let it be”

This song was written by Paul McCartney for The Beatles and released in 1970. McCartney wrote it as the band fell apart.

“Words are flowing out / Like endless rain into a paper cup / They slither while they pass / They slip away across the universe”

While this song was later covered by David Bowie, it was written by John Lennon for The Beatles. He came up with it while trying to fall asleep.

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night / Take these broken wings and learn to fly / All your life / You were only waiting for this moment to arise”

"Blackbird" is a song written by Paul McCartney off 1968's "The White Album." He wrote it in sympathy for Black Americans struggling during the Civil Rights Movement.

"There's a starman waiting in the sky / He'd like to come and meet us / But he thinks he'd blow our minds"

"Starman" is a track off of the Bowie album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars." This album defined glam rock.

“Though I know I'll never lose affection / For people and things that went before / I know I'll often stop and think about them / In my life I love you more”

"In My Life" is off of the 1965 album "Rubber Soul." Lennon began writing it about a bus trip through his hometown of Liverpool, England.

“And any time you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain / Don't carry the world upon your shoulders / For well, you know that it's a fool who plays it cool / By making his world a little colder”

"Hey Jude" is a 1968 Beatles song. Paul McCartney wrote it to cheer up John Lennon's son after his parents announced they were getting a divorce.

"You are not a victim / You just scream with boredom / You are not evicting time"

"Time" was written by David Bowie on the New Orleans stop of his Ziggy Stardust tour. It appeared on the 1973 album "Aladdin Sane."

"Oh don't lean on me man / Cause you can't afford the ticket / I'm back from Suffragette City"

"Suffragette City" is a song off of the 1972 Bowie album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars." This iconic glam rock song has been covered by bands ranging from Alice In Chains to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

“There's nothing you can do that can't be done / Nothing you can sing that can't be sung / Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game / It's easy / All you need is love”

"All You Need Is Love" is off of the 1967 Beatles album "Magical Mystery Tour." It was written by John Lennon.

"Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth / You pull on your finger, then another finger, then your cigarette"

"Rock N Roll Suicide" is the closing track of Bowie's famous album "The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars." This song is simultaneously hopeful and tragic, offering sympathy to the listener.

"Let me take you down / 'Cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields / Nothing is real / And nothing to get hung about"

"Strawberry Fields Forever" is from the 1967 Beatles album "Magical Mystery Tour." John Lennon wrote it during a period of depression and feeling isolated.

"A small Jean Genie snuck off to the city / Strung out on lasers and slash-back blazers / Ate all your razors while pulling the waiters"

"The Jean Genie" is a song off of the early '70s Bowie album "Aladdin Sane." It is considered a pioneering song of early punk.

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”

"The End" is a song from the 1969 Beatles album "Abbey Road." Paul McCartney says its ending couplet was inspired by Shakespeare.

"JoJo was a man who thought he was a loner, but he new it wouldn’t last / JoJo left his home in Tucson, Arizona / for some California grass"

"Get Back" is a Beatles song off of 1970's "Let It Be." As a single, it reached #1 around the world.

"Take a look at the Lawman / Beating up the wrong guy / Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know / He's in the bestselling show/ Is there life on Mars?”

"Life On Mars?" is a song from the 1971 Bowie album "Hunky Dory." It has roots in chanson, a type of melancholy French song.

"(God and man) no confessions / (God and man) no religion / (God and man) don't believe in modern love"

"Modern Love" is a popular song off the Bowie album "Let's Dance." This album was his biggest commercial success and made him a pop idol in the 1980s.

"My advice to those who die / declare the pennies on your eyes / cause I’m the taxman."

"Taxman" is a song off of the 1966 Beatles album "Revolver." It was written by George Harrison to protest high taxes.

"It's been a hard day's night, and I've been working like a dog / It's been a hard day's night, I should be sleeping like a log"

"A Hard Day's Night" is a song, album, and film of The Beatles. As a single, it topped US and UK charts.

"He wear no shoeshine / He got toe jam football / He got monkey finger / He shoot Coca-Cola"

"Come Together" is the opening track of the 1969 Beatles album "Abbey Road." The song began as John Lennon's attempt to write a song for Timothy Leary's failed campaign for governor of California against future president Ronald Reagan.

"She took his ring, took his babies / It took him minutes, took her nowhere / Heaven knows, she'd have taken anything, but"

"Young Americans" is a song off the 1975 Bowie album of the same name. It shows Bowie's departure from glam rock and into experimentation with R&B, Jazz, and Soul.

"Here comes the sun, here comes the sun / And I say it's all right"

"Here Comes The Sun" is one of the Beatles most well known songs. It is also one of George Harrison's most well known compositions.

"The return of the Thin White Duke / Throwing darts in lovers' eyes"

"Station to Station" is the title track from Bowie's 1976 album. He worked on this album at the height of addiction, and hardly remembered completing it.

"Now my brother lays upon the rocks / He could be dead, He could be not / He could be you / He's chameleon, comedian, corinthian and caricature"

"The Bewlay Brothers" is a classic example of David Bowie's habit of writing interesting but incomprehensible lyrics. This was largely due to a cut and paste method of writing he used largely throughout the 1970s.

"I look at the world and I notice it's turning / While my guitar gently weeps / With every mistake we must surely be learning / Still my guitar gently weeps"

George Harrison wrote this song inspired by the Chinese fortune telling method known as I Ching. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is from 1968's "The White Album."

"We live closer to the earth / Never to the heavens / The stars are never far away / Stars are out tonight"

"The Stars Are Out Tonight" is a song from David Bowie's 2013 album "The Next Day." Its music video features Tilda Swinton.

"We're Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band / We hope you have enjoyed the show"

This was the title track from the Beatles' 1967 album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." It bridged the gap between popular music and high art and was the first rock album to ever win the Grammy for Album of the Year.

"Baby, I've been breaking glass / In your room again / Listen / Don't look at the carpet/ I drew something awful on it"

"Breaking Glass" is a song off of the 1977 Bowie album "Low." This album is part of Bowie's Berlin Trilogy.

"Something happened on the day he died / Spirit rose a metre then stepped aside / Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried / (I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)"

"Blackstar" is a song off the Bowie album of the same name. At nearly 10 minutes long, it is the longest song to ever enter the Billboard Hot 100.

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