Song Recommendations: David Bowie
David Jones is dead but David Bowie will live on in the heart of music forever. These are the top 5 songs I find myself playing on repeat.
I just read this crazy article about David Bowie, one of my favorite artists of all time. It was insane but it fits someone like David well, at least in my opinion.
Now, for those of you who don't want to read the article, I'll give you a little insight to its content. Please note I don't know how credible this site is, so don't hold it against me, but I did see other articles reporting the same thing. So, this article is more about Mike Garson who played piano for Bowie. He was his most frequent and longest lasting band mate. Garson is publishing a biography in May. I don't know how it got brought up but in his biography he tells a lot of stories about his time with Bowie.
One of those stories is about an experience David had with a psychic. Apparently this psychic had told David he was going to die. They told him this sometime in the 70s and they told him the exact date he would die. David took it to heart and believed the psychic. According to Garson, David planned out his career accordingly to flow with the date given to him. This interests me a lot because of my love for David Bowie. Can you imagine what it must have been like to be told the day you would die? It would give me some serious crippling anxiety.
I'd like to imagine it scared him, it's natural, he was human. But we all die in the end so maybe Bowie figured that and after the initial thought of it passed he sort of just accepted it? I was so shocked when David died because I hadn't realized "he is human too" and I felt so guilty because of that. I had a lot of issues going on at that time so focusing my pent up negative energy towards his death helped me cope with my own life. I wasn't angry with him, it's not his fault. I was mad at myself for not realizing he was human too, indirectly I was actually upset about something entirely different but that doesn't mean I mourned him any less.
Now your going to ask yourself, "Ok but why is this titled as a song list and not a crazy ramble from some 19 year old kid," I'm getting to that. I am going to include a list of the top 5 songs that I would recommend to any passerby. They aren't necessarily his most popular or well known but songs I find myself playing on repeat. I just wanted to tell you why I am suddenly writing an article about a man who has been deceased for 2 years. David Jones is gone but David Bowie will always live in the heart of music.
1. "Heroes" 1977
"Heroes" was recorded in July and August of 1977 and released that September. It is personally my most favorite song by him. I have a tattoo of its lyrics. David wrote the song with Brian Eno and produced it with Toni Visconti. It was crafted during the time Bowie lived in Berlin above an auto parts store. He probably could have afforded a better living situation but for whatever reason he decided to live there. The song was written about a couple kissing "by the wall" (a line from the song). Years later Bowie revealed that is was about Visconti and a girl he had met. David didn't reveal who it was about back then because Visconti was still married at the time. Rolling Stone magazine named it the 46th greatest song of all time.
"I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be Heroes, just for one day"
2. "Space Oddity" 1969
"Space Oddity" was recorded and released in 1969 and is one of his most well known songs. In 1969 the infamous moon landing took place with caused many people to believe that the lunar event inspired the song. It's not that simple though, there is more to it than that. Bowie revealed in an interview with the magazine Performing Songwriter that the song was actually about something else entirely. "It was written because of going to see the film 2001, which I found amazing. I was out of my gourd anyway, I was very stoned when I went to see it, several times, and it was really a revelation to me. It got the song flowing," was the statement given to the above magazine. But even then many fans of his further analyze the song and its lyrics. If you listen to the lyrics you can deduce that a fictional character named "Major Tom" who travels to outer space but unfortunately looses connection with "ground control" and floats off in "his tin can." It isn't hard to believe that Bowie wrote it when he was stoned given its a known fact he had a drug addiction in his younger days. Bowie would mention Major Tom again in a later song named "Ashes to Ashes" in which he expresses that Major Tom is a junkie.
"Ground control to major Tom
Ground control to major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
(Ten) Ground control (Nine) to major Tom (Eight)
(Seven, six) Commencing countdown (Five), engines on (Four)
(Three, two) Check ignition (One) and may gods (Blastoff) love be with you"
3. "Starman" 1972
"Starman" was recorded in 1972 and dropped as a single April of the same year. "Round and Round" (a cover from Chuck Berry) was originally in the place of "Starman" but eventually the iconic song took its place. Bowie is infamous for reinventing himself and taking on personas, most notable would be his character "Ziggy Stardust." The song was on the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which was Bowie's 5th album. The album told of Bowie's alter ego "Ziggy Stardust," an androgynous bisexual alien who acted as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings. At the time the album dropped, homosexuality had only been legal for a little while (few years I believe). David was one of the first men to dress up so flamboyantly on stage wearing flamboyant makeup and other tactics, it only attracted more attention to Bowie.
"There's a starman waiting in the sky
He'd like to come and meet us
But he thinks he'd blow our minds
There's a starman waiting in the sky
He's told us not to blow it
'Cause he knows it's all worthwhile
He told me
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie"
4. "Let's Dance" 1983
"Let's Dance" is the title track from Bowie's 1983 album under the same name. There's a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen called "The Red Shoes" that inspired the music video for it. In the tale is a vain girl who puts on shoes, only they won't come off and they cause her to dance uncontrollably all the time. She is confronted by an angel who tells her that she is condemned to dance for eternity as a lesson for other vain children. Later the girl has an executioner chop her feet off and that didn't stop the shoes. They still dance with her limbs attached! It doesn't end there either, whenever the girl tries to go to church, the shoes get in her way. She has been kicked from the pleasantry of being in God's grace. In the song one of the lyrics is "let's dance for fear your grace would fall," I think that fits given the story. Eventually the angel from before decides to give her mercy. In Bowie's music video, a pair of red shoes appear before a young couple. The female puts the shoes on and suddenly knows how to dance perfectly. Other events unfold and eventually the couple live a nice life only to come across the same shoes in a store window. They get rid of the shoes and stomp them into the dirt.
"If you say run, I'll run with you
If you say hide, we'll hide
Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two
If you should fall into my arms
And tremble like a flower
Let's dance for fear your grace should fall
Let's dance for fear tonight is all"
5. "Under Pressure" 1981
Lastly number 5, "Under Pressure" isn't actually on a proper Bowie album as the song is actual a collaboration with one of the worlds greatest rock bands, Queen. I find it fitting that I wanted this on the list because both Freddy Mercury (the singer for Queen) and Bowie have passed on. Both singers also didn't tell much of anyone about their illnesses until it mattered. David didn't at all though. His son confirmed his death and the cause was later released telling fans he had been battling cancer. Freddy Mercury was gay and contracted AIDS at some point in life and it later killed him. The song was a hit and both Bowie and Queen are well known for it being iconic. In June of 2017 I went to Las Vegas and saw Queen live with their new singer (Adam Lambert) who I also enjoy. They played "Under Pressure" but it was a melancholy for me personally. Both singers dead, it was Adam and Queen drummer Roger Taylor that sang it as a duet. To amplify that bittersweet feeling I had at some point during the concert, they had a hologram or like a video of Freddy interacting with a crowd. At the end of it the video/hologram of Freddy turned and waved at Queen guitarist Brian May and Brian waved back. The song landed at number 1 in the U.K. and settled in the top 30 in the U.S.
"Pressure, pushing down on me,
pressing down on you, no man ask for.
Under pressure that burns a building down,
splits a family in two, puts people on streets.
It's the terror of knowing what this world is about.
Watching some good friends screaming, "let me out".
Tomorrow gets me higher.
Pressure on people, people on streets."