January 8, 2007

Bowie, boys, is a sweet thing

I'm glad that you're older than me
It makes me feel important and free
Does that make you smile?
Isn't that...me?


At various points in my life I have been obsessed with David Bowie. I even had a roommate who looked like Bowie (by coincidence, generally and sometimes by choice). Today is DB's 60th birthday and I wish I could find a truly comprehensive photo site so I could pick out my favorite eras/looks - he really is, visually, Madonna's male precursor. The above image was taken in 2004, when he was 58.

The music: He's been so prolific and been so many different artists over the years. I want to honor that by telling you about some of my favorite Bowie songs. Tell me some of yours in the comments.

My Top Ten (Plus One) favorite David Bowie songs, in no order:

Strangers When We Meet
This romantic - if lyrically obtuse - song is the one most likely to appeal to "my readers" - a secret pop gem with a gorgeous piano rolling throughout and a classic (stolen!) bass line/guitar riff. Technically from 1993's Buddha Of Suburbia soundtrack, but also on '95's meh Outside. The final minute of this song I just cannot live without.

"I'm in clover / For we're strangers when we meet / Heel head over / But we're strangers when we meet..."

Cat People Serious Moonlight live video bad hair!
I prefer the 1982 film version, which is more menacing, tribal and sax-free (!) than the Let's Dance redux. Gorgeous synthy guitars at the end. This was his last song before he had his startling pop renaissance in 1983. "I've been putting out fire [pause] / With gasoline"

Sweet Thing / The Candidate live video - 70's check out the look
From 1974's Diamond Dogs. I'm obsessed with everything about these Siamese twins. The vocals are from his most powerful era (70s), the lyrics are wicked and the way he wraps his lips around those words is Oscar worthy. The line at the top of this post comes from Sweet Thing and I love this bit early in The Candidate: "My set is amazing / It even smells like a street."

Soul Love
So fucking fresh - at least parts of it are. From 1972's The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust.

"All I have is my love of love - and love is not loving."

Changes amazing live rehearsal video, 1976
The first Bowie song I never knew, it's a manifesto that everyone from 16 - 22 years should hear. This was the line I picked up on in my teens: "And these children that you spit on / As they try to change their worlds / Are immune to your consultations / They're quite aware of what they're going through." From 1971's Hunky Dory

Also from Hunky Dory, this is David's love song for his baby son, it's a great pop lullaby. Favorite line: "If the homework brings you down / Then we'll throw it on the fire / And take the car downtown."

This Is Not America
Every blogger with any taste needs to kneel at the alter of this collaboration with Pat Metheny. Intelligent and smooth like a bullet, this song never ages. And yes, the title line is something I say to myself a great deal these days. America will one day be loved again, I hope. You can find it on Best Of Bowie.

A 1977 classic (from the album of the same name) that became more classic years after its release when he performed it at Live Aid. Does anyone know of a cover of this that really does it justice? "And you, you can be mean / And I, I'll drink all the time / 'Cos we're lovers, and that is a fact . Yes we're lovers, and that is that."

Stay video from Dinah Shore he is hot in this!
- is from my favorite Bowie record, 1976's Station To Station, a good record for pop fans because it's radically cool yet very accessible. This track has a Nile Rodgers disco feel to it - it's slinky. "'Cos you can never really tell when somebody / Wants so much to stay... 'Cos you can never really tell when somebody / Wants something you want too."

Wild Is The Wind live video, Nov 2006
Also from Station To Station. 6 minutes of passion, especially the spine-tingling buildup from about 4:50 to the intense wailing payoff - you'll know it when you hear it. Has there really ever been a better male singer than David Bowie? He took this Nina Simone classic (a ballsy move for an emaciated white boy) and owned it. "You'll spring to me/ All things to me / Don't you know you're life itself?"

I had my big stereo on for the first time in like a year tonight and this lush song sounded amazing on big speakers. Most people won't know this song, from 1975's Young Americans, with Luther Vandross on backing vocals. It's like an elegant city anthem, if New York had waves of diamonds lapping at its shores. Listen closely and you'll hear what I mean about waves. "I feel you driving and rolling the wheel / Slow down, let someone love you"

A few more that I didn't include but love: Absolute Beginners, Lady Grinning Soul, Sound And Vision, Word On A Wing, Under Pressure, Modern Love, Shining Star, Hallo Spaceboy (with PSB), and A Small Plot Of Land.

See Kofi's Hat for her take on Bowie at 60.

2004 photo courtesy of Live From the Pit


Adem IAR said...

"Ground Control To Major Tom" is probably the most cliche Bowie track to claim as a favourite, but by god it never gets old. Nor does "Fashion", which still sounds extremely fresh and new.

J'ason D'luv said...

Hands down favorite would have to be "Life On Mars," followed closely by "Moonage Daydream" and "Young Americans."

My pal The Duke and I do a wicked rendition of "Life On Mars" at karaoke.

Oh, and "Golden Years".... and "Starman."

I can't believe he's freakin' 60!!!!!!!!

J'ason D'luv said...

Oh shizz, and "Ashes To Ashes," which literally just popped up on shuffle on my iPod Mini (did you read about my other iPod last week...?)

Have you caught that Pet Shop Boys: Life In Pop doc? Chris Lowe has a funny part where he talks about working at some club as a part time job during college, as a bus boy, and he says he'd only go out and clean the glasses off the tables if a good song was playing, and he mentions "Ashes To Ashes" as one of the songs he'd always bop out to. He even does a little dance when he talks about it!

countpopula said...

Hey, thanks for the Bowie love! I was actually a member of davidbowie.com for years and had that as part of my email address. I love so much of his stuff (INCLUDING Outside--great album--where is the rest of the trilogy?), and agree with many of your picks (especially Station to Station era--have you heard Billy MacKenzie's version of "Wild is the Wind"? His might be the only one to equal Bowie's that I've heard). Also always loved "Fashion", "Aladdin Sane", and the entire LOW album. 60! Un-freaking believable.