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Best Songs of David Bowie

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by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler...Former teacher... Scientist... Published author... Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published January 10th 2019
Bowie will always be great
As hard as it is to believe, January 10 was the third anniversary of the death of David Bowie. It does not seem right not having him around making music and delivering some of the most inciteful commentary on the world today, not just the world of music.
david bowie, singer, music, songs
Bowie in 2002

He recorded some of the most amazing music of several generations. From the 1960s through to right before he died, his musical output was incredible. Over the course of decades in the music industry, not everything he released was great (the album Tin Machine II springs to mind), but he had a far greater hit to miss ratio than many others.

But he was not just a singer. His stage performances were the first of the multi-media affairs we have grown so used to overt the years. Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars is still one of the greatest concert films produced.

And he was not a bad actor. In some of his films, he stands out as quite good. In The Hunger, he plays a vampire really well; he is the best thing in an otherwise mediocre outing. The scene where he ages is superbly done. In Labyrinth, his turn as the Goblin King I find entertaining. And in The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976), he played an alien stuck on Earth in a tragedy that has quite the downbeat, depressing ending. And he is brilliant.

But, of course, it is as a musician that he will be remembered. And I love his music. In that vein, here are some of my favourite David Bowie songs.

But I'll start by throwing out a guilty pleasure song: 'The Laughing Gnome' (from the 1967 album David Bowie)

Not a proper video.

Right, my list. Look, this is essentially just a playlist of some great Bowie songs, in order of the year they were released. They range from the 1960s to the 2010s. He encompasses my whole life. That is something awesome and amazing and I think only Paul McCartney comes close to doing the same thing when it comes to music I like.

'Space Oddity' (from the album Space Oddity, 1969)
His first big hit, and an epic of song story-telling. One of his many instantly recognisable tunes.

'Changes' (from the album Hunky Dory, 1971)
One of my very favourite Bowie tracks, I didn't understand it until I was in my 20s, and it's actually a little sad, but it is a great song all the same.

Not a proper video

'Life On Mars?' (from the album Hunky Dory, 1971)
A great song that I still don't think I understand completely. Don't care. Cool song.

'Suffragette City' (from the album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, 1972)
Another track I didn't understand until many years after I fell in love with it and its driving guitar track. Great rock song.

Not a proper video.
david bowie, ziggy stardust, music, song
Bowie as Ziggy on stage

'Sorrow' (from the album Pin Ups, 1973)
Pin Ups was one of the better albums of cover songs ever released (IMO), and this track, the major single released from it, was certainly a highlight. As good as the Merseys' original.

'Rebel Rebel' (from the album Diamond Dogs, 1974)
Yet another song I didn't understand until I was older, after first hearing it as a kid; I remember asking my dad about the line "not sure if you're a boy or a girl" and him being too embarrassed to give me a straight answer.

'Heroes (from the album "Heroes", 1977)
My all-time favourite Bowie song. I love the build to the crescendo at the end, and, even though it's about lovers at the Berlin Wall, it feels like it could apply to any young couple who are facing hurdles to their love.

'Boys Keep Swinging' (from the album Lodger, 1979)
I first heard this song on The Kenny Everett Video Show, followed by the angry man berating him and Bowie beating him with a violin bow, showing that Bowie was not above having fun. ANd the song's cool as well.

Kenny Everett version without the bits at the end.

'Ashes To Ashes' (from the album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), 1980)
One of the first songs I remember seeing on TV with its own video clip that was weird and odd, and yet the song was still fantastic. I still don't really understand what it's about… but who cares?

'Under Pressure' by Queen and David Bowie (from the Queen album Hot Space, 1982)
Released in 1981 as a single first, this track is one of the classics of 1980s rock. No more needs to be said.

'Modern Love' (from the album Let's Dance, 1983)
Tracks like 'China Girl' and the title track get most of the love from this album, but I really prefer this song.

'This Is Not America', performed with the Pat Metheny Group (released as a single, 1985)
Not sure why I like this, it's slow and deliberate and sounds a little depressing, but is a great, under-rated track.

'Absolute Beginners' (from the soundtrack to the film Absolute Beginners, 1986)
Admission time: I went to see this film based on the fact I liked the song. It was only okay, but I still really like the song.

'Day-In Day-Out' (from the album Never Let Me Down', 1987)
The album has sort of fallen by the wayside, but I really liked this song. Maybe not one of the best of the year, still a great Bowie track.

'Prisoner Of Love' by Tin Machine, Bowie's rock group experiment (from the album Tin Machine, 1989)
Tin Machine was not well regarded by critics, but the first album was quite good and their live album was also not too shabby; this is my favourite Tin Machine song.

'Hallo Spaceboy' (from the album Outside, 1995)
This is Bowie in 1990s experimentation mode. This song grabbed me, and is different and quite danceable. And the version he did with the Pet Shop Boys in 1996 is just as good.

Pet Shop Boys version

'I'm Afraid Of Americans (from the album Earthling, 1997)
My second favourite Bowie track. The lyrics are wonderful, and the delivery is sublime. Little known, but that should be rectified.

'The Stars (Are Out Tonight)' (from the album The Next Day, 2013)
A great track from his late career resurgence. The lyrics are, again, wonderful, and the delivery is perfect.

Video has an age warning

'Lazarus' (from the album Blackstar, 2016)
Released two days before his death, his career finished on an absolute high with this brilliant track. The fact he recorded it and the video while he knew he was dying of cancer is just extraordinary.

And there you have it – my David Bowie playlist. Gone, missed, but not forgotten.

What tracks would you have included? Comments always accepted.
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Your Comment
I am a big Bowie fan. You have included all my favourites. Strangely you don't mention "Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence" in which I found him strangely alluring in his well-ironed (school) uniform!
by May Cross (score: 3|5489) 325 days ago
In Brisbane we have a "Bowie Day" every November with a parade, films, dance and great costumes. highly recommended.
by May Cross (score: 3|5489) 325 days ago
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