I definitely was not expecting to blog quite so soon after my last post. When I woke up this morning to the horrible news that David Bowie had died of cancer, I immediately prayed that it was another celebrity death hoax, but when I saw the news on his official Facebook page I knew it had to be true. Though I have not listened to the majority of his astounding 25 studio albums, I do consider myself a big fan of his. His incredible, artistic music aside, David Bowie seemed like a musical and artistic genius to me with how he continually reinvented himself and refused to duplicate his past work.
He is also a musician whose existence I suppose I took for granted, in that I just assumed he’d be around forever to promote his album, musical, and various future projects. I sincerely wish I had listened to him more and fully appreciated his artistry while he was alive. But I suppose the best I can do now is to honor him by posting my ten favorite songs of his and why I love them. Again, these may be somewhat mainstream choices because I am not familiar with all of his extensive catalog, but I hope to remedy that in the near future. This list may change for me, but at this moment, these are my favorites, so that’s what I’m going with.
10. Ashes to Ashes
I forget when exactly I first heard this song, but I do recall being extremely intrigued by the opening. It has a really interesting sound that I can’t quite put my finger on, and I love how it brings back the Major Tom character from “Space Oddity.” One thing I’ve noticed about David Bowie’s songs is how they often have the same beat throughout the entire song, which you might think would make them eventually tedious but they somehow never are. This song is just magical and I love it!
I actually first found out about this song from the Nirvana cover on their MTV Unplugged album. I’m very thankful for that, because the original version is so intricately arranged that each piece seems like a puzzle piece meant to perfectly fit in a whole. The guitar riff is also somewhat ominous and unresolved, which adds to this song’s mystique and strengthens its overall appeal for me.
My favorite part of this song is definitely the guitar throughout. I just cannot get enough of it, it’s so catchy! Beyond that, the lyrics are fun and the harmonica is awesome, also the bass at the end is pretty badass. I don’t have a ton else to say about this one, I’ve just always gotten very happy when it comes on the radio and it is one of my favorite Bowie songs!
This is an absolute gem off of the Ziggy Stardust album, which is filled with gems. I know it was kind of the point of the album, but I love how many songs on this album involve stars. It all seems so fantastical and otherworldly, which judging by Bowie’s look during this period was fully intentional. I also love the part of this song where the music stops except for some cool spacey star sounds, I honestly don’t know what instrument that is but I think it is pretty self explanatory. Also I’ve noticed the lyrics to this song take on an entirely different meaning in the context of Bowie’s death. Something to think about.
This song is a true classic for both Queen and David Bowie, but I felt compelled to include it here because it is so brilliantly crafted to show Bowie’s talent. I love how it builds and builds to a triumphant climax and then tapers off again towards the end. It’s one of those songs that I have to listen to all the way through if it comes on the radio or anywhere because though it is an extremely popular song, it is not overrated in the slightest. Somewhere right now, I bet David Bowie and Freddie Mercury are singing it together. 🙂
I hope it’s not terrible to say that whenever I hear this song, I first think of Jimmy Fallon’s “Tebowie” skit that changed its lyrics to apply to Tim Tebow. That video always makes me laugh, but aside from that, this is yet another well-crafted rock song from David Bowie. The guitar here absolutely makes the song for me once again. In fact, this is probably one of my favorite guitar-heavy songs that I can think of by any artist. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Jimmy’s “Tebowie” character is certainly the highest form of flattery for this fantastic song.
4. Life on Mars
This may not be #1 on my favorites list, but musically this is an absolute masterpiece. It may well be his very best song ever. The piano here is stunning, it reminds me of “Rocket Man” by Elton John a bit with its complicated, unpredictable, majestic chord progressions. How funny that both songs are about outer space in some way. Anyway, for me this is up there with “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a truly perfect example of rock music at its finest and most artfully cinematic.
This is probably one of the most fun, upbeat David Bowie songs out there, and I think it was also one of the first songs I heard by him. The chorus with its piano part reminds me a lot of the Beatles’ “Back In The USSR,” and in general it is just an awesome song. I get really excited whenever I hear it and could honestly play it on repeat for hours on end. It’s that good!
To be honest, it was really hard for me to choose between the top three songs on this list. I basically like this song just as much as my #1 choice, but for different reasons, so I put it at #2 here. The whimsical lyrics here are fun and lovable, the guitar is percussive and slightly abrasive, and the whole song is, for lack of a better word, fantastic. I think I identify with this song on a spiritual level, it means that much to me!
I didn’t discover this song until I saw “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” a few years ago, which is a wonderful movie, but it quickly became my favorite David Bowie song and one of my favorite songs in general. “Heroes” is truly inspiring, empowering, and uplifting. The guitar is lush and magical, and as always, David Bowie’s distinctive voice soars above the instrumentation. This song touches me emotionally like very few songs do, even including Beatles songs. Whenever I hear it, I feel like I can become a hero and do anything. I, like Charlie in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” feel infinite.
Honorable Mentions: TVC 15, Space Oddity, Changes, DJ, Cat People (Putting Out Fire), Rebel Rebel
I did not really anticipate posting about David Bowie on this blog, but as a fan of the Beatles and all whom they inspired, which includes Bowie, I felt it was necessary. May David Bowie join John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, and the ranks of rock stars whose legend only grows after their untimely death. Rock on, Starman.