David Bowie died on Sunday at the age of 69.
In an age of macho bullshit rock & roll, he moved fluidly between styles of music, fashion, and taste, while writing great songs and lyrics.
If you haven’t listened to much of Bowie’s music, 1969 – 1983 is recognized as being his “peak” period, but he kept on working literally until the end of his life. The last album dropped a couple of weeks ago.
Here are a few of my favorites, starting with a perfect “Monday Funday Dance Party” song:
My first exposure to Bowie was this album. One of my good friends from high school was (and still is) a huge Bowie fan, and we used to play this a lot.
David Bowie Fun Fact: One of the many cool things Bowie did was introduce Stevie Ray Vaughn to the world on this record. SRV wound up having to leave the “Let’s Dance” tour when his own album began taking off.
One of Bowie’s first singles was the hit “Space Odyssey,” which leaves the hero floating aimlessly in space. This is the sequel, and things have just gone downhill.
“Ashes to Ashes” was released in 1980 and is just dripping with ennui, Weltschmerz, or what you might call “disco hangover.” It’s perfect to listen to when you’re sad and don’t want to feel better.
With Queen. I love how Bowie and Freddie Mercury sing together on this. Bowie is no vocal slouch, but Freddie just had an incredible voice. With that perfect technique and huge vocal range, it would be hard for most rock singers to perform with him and not sound like an amateur.
But Bowie is terrific here. He doesn’t do the dazzling swoops and glides that Freddie does, but he is just as effective a performer. A much better duet than Bowie’s later collaboration with Mick Jagger on “Dancing in the Streets.”
One summer in college, my friend Jen made me a couple of mixtapes. Yeah yeah yeah, cassettes = old people, I’ll be dead sooner than you will, blah blah blah. ANYWAY, One of the tapes was a Bowie mix. It had some great songs on it, including this one.
It’s kind of fun and playful, very melodic, and vaguely threatening; just how I like a song. One of these days I’ll learn how to play it.
I’m really sad that Bowie died; my thoughts are with his loved ones during this time. I’m also very grateful that he made so much great music during the time he was here.
Okay, just one more: