2015, Music, RIP

RIP David Bowie

Much like when Lou Reed, another of my favourite songwriters, died, I find myself in complete shock. Shock that someone I have spent over half my life listening to, discussing/debating and feeling like I had some kind of connection with, has died…could die. Shock that death comes for us all, no matter how great.

The shock is all the greater, though, because Bowie just released an album the other day. I assumed incorrectly that the release of that album meant he was doing better. I had no intention of buying an album released by a 69-year old singer-songwriter, a songwriter whose work for the last couple decades I haven’t really enjoyed much, but I thought it was a sign that he was healthy, or at least relatively so.

And I once again find myself unprepared, not just emotionally, but with an at-hand tribute. I mean, Bowie is one of my favourite musicians and songwriters. I just recorded a podcast the other day where I said something to the affect of “I believe nearly every record Bowie released between 1970 and 1980 is essential, and all are worth listening to at the very least.” There’s such a long list of Bowie records and songs that I love that, without preparation, I’m not sure that I can sum up my favourites, or the stuff that I think is his very best. Any attempt at this moment would probably be incomplete, as I can’t believe he’s dead.

But, here’s a half-assed attempt at it anyway.

Bowie Albums You Owe it to Yourself to Listen to

  1. Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)I just talked about this, it’s probably the least appreciated of his classic records
  2. Aladdin Sane – of the Spiders From Mars albums, this one is my favourite, for a myriad of reasons
  3. Hunky Dory – a glam rock singer-songwriter record; not only the best glam rock record (though it’s not really “rock”) but also one of the best singer-songwriter records of the ’70s
  4. Station to Station – of Bowie’s numerous reinventions in the ’70s, one was to embrace Philly Soul and originally he just sort of copied it but by this point he made it his own
  5. The Berlin Trilogy (i.e. Low, “Heroes” and Lodger) – three albums that everyone always lumps together; I have never decided which is my favourite, but it’s probably Low, I mean “Heroes”
  6. Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars – his most famous album isn’t his best, but it’s still a classic
  7. The Man Who Sold the World – Bowie’s hard rock record shouldn’t be ignored just because he never made another one like it

And there are lots of other decent ones, though those are the essential ones.

We should also not forget that Bowie was a great supporter of other artists, see for instance:

  • Transformer by Lou Reed (co-producer)
  • Raw Power by The Stooges (original mix producer)
  • The Idiot and Lust for Life by Iggy Pop (co-songwriter, performer, co-producer)

In terms of my favourite songs, maybe I’ll have a playlist for you later today.


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