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A Small Plot of Land = Small Plot of Land (S)
Album: Outside
Released: in September of 1995

David Bowie’s Outside album would inspire a tour that would both confuse and confound his existing fan base at the time, yet has since been re-evaluated as one of his most daring moves


(instrumental)

Album: Heroes
Released: 1977

This track is an outtake from the Berlin trilogy. When Ryko were looking for bonus tracks in the early 90s, Bowie gave them this one which was at the time untitled (neither he nor Eno could remember if it even had a title). Therefore, although written and recorded more than 10 years before he met Iman, it was not goiven its title (in her honour) until after they met and fell in love.

Absolute Beginners
Album: Absolute Beginners Soundtrack
Released: 1986

is a song written and recorded by David Bowie. It was the theme song to the 1986 film of the same name (itself an adaptation of the book Absolute Beginners).

Across the Universe
Album: Young Americans
Released: 1975

This is David Bowie covering The Beatles off Young Americans.
Its fairly easy.

Afraid
Album: Heathen
Released: 2002

African Night Flight
Album: Lodger
Released: 1979

is the strangest song on an already unconventional album Lodger. It’s a divisive song, one that splits even the most fervent Bowie fanatics. Some people don’t like it because they find it abrasive and hard to listen to. There’s some truth to that; it certainly is a bit abrasive. But I personally love the unique, hard-to-define quality of the song. Even for David Bowie, a man who is known for being a musical chameleon and who has released some unusual music, this song stands out.

After All
Album: The Man Who Sold The World
Released: 1967

The song has been interpreted as taking to nightmarish conclusions the children’s world of Bowie’s early song “There Is a Happy Land”, from his 1967 debut David Bowie. Like much of The Man Who Sold the World, its lyrics are imbued with a Nietzschian Übermensch philosophy (“Man is an obstacle, sad as the clown”). The line “Live til your rebirth and do what you will” is often cited as homage to occultist Aleister Crowley and his dictum, “Do what thou wilt”.

The track is unusual in a rock context for being in waltz time, most obviously in the surreal circus-like instrumental break. Its style was inspired by the “slightly sinister, measured melancholy” of songs Bowie recalled from childhood such as Danny Kaye’s “Inchworm”. Regarding the music’s arrangement, producer Tony Visconti said, “The basic song and the ‘oh by jingo’ line were David’s ideas. The rest was Ronno and me vying for the next overdub.”

Alabama Song
Album: bonus track on the Rykodisc reissue of Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps).
Released: 1978

The “Alabama Song”—also known as “Moon of Alabama”, “Moon over Alabama”, and “Whisky Bar”—is an English song written for Bertolt Brecht by his close collaborator Elisabeth Hauptmann in 1925 and set to music by Kurt Weill for the 1927 play Little Mahagonny. It was reused for the 1930 opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

Bowie, a Brecht fan, incorporated the song into Isolar II, his 1978 World Tour. He cut a version at Tony Visconti’s studio after the European leg of the tour, and in 1980 it was issued as a single to hasten the end of Bowie’s contract with RCA.

With unconventional key changes, the track “seemed calculated to disrupt any radio programme on which it was lucky enough to get played”. Nevertheless, backed with a stripped-down acoustic version of “Space Oddity” recorded in December 1979, the single reached #23 in the UK. Although Bowie also changed the “little boy” line like Morrison, he sang Weill’s original melody.

Bowie would appear in a BBC version of Brecht’s Baal, and release an EP of songs from the play. He performed “Alabama Song” again on his 1990 Sound+Vision Tour and 2002 Heathen tours.

Aladdin Sane
Album: Aladdin Sane
Released: 1973

The song title includes the parenthetical phrase “(1913-1938-197?)”. The first two years refer to the years before the two World Wars broke out, and thus the third year reflects Bowie’s belief at the time that World War III was imminent, a theme that is dominant throughout the lyrics of this song, and Bowie’s songwriting in general at this point

All Saints
Album: Low
Released: 1976

This song was not initially released until the re-edition of the album in 1991 by the Ryko collection. It is completely instrumental.

All the Madmen
Album: The Man Who Sol;d The World
Released: 1970

This song was inspired by Bowie’s half-brother, Terry Burns, who suffered with serious mental health problems. In 1985, Burns killed himself when he escaped the grounds of the mental hospital where he was staying and put his head in the way of an oncoming train.

All the Young Dudes
Album: Davi Live
Released: 1972

Studio

From The Album “David Live” 1974

From The Album “The Motion Picture” (Live 1973)
Is a song written by David Bowie, originally recorded and released as a single by Mott the Hoople in 1972. In 2004, Rolling Stone rated “All the Young Dudes” No. 253 in its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and on its 2010 update was ranked at number 256. It is also one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Bowie took to performing “All the Young Dudes” on his own 1973 tour, and a medley version appears on the album Ziggy Stardust – The Motion Picture, the live recording of the last Ziggy show that was finally released officially in 1983. Bowie’s first released version of the song was in 1974 on the David Live double LP.

In 1992, twenty years after their duet in Philadelphia, Bowie and Hunter again performed the song together with the surviving members of Queen, Mick Ronson, and Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott and Phil Collen at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. The song was also featured during Bowie’s 1995–1996 Outside Tour as well as the 2003–2004 A Reality Tour tour, and is included on the A Reality Tour DVD and A Reality Tour album.

Bowie’s own studio version, recorded in December 1972 during the sessions for Aladdin Sane, went unreleased until 1995 when it appeared in mono on the album RarestOneBowie. It was subsequently included, again in mono, on The Best of David Bowie 1969/1974, the 2-disc U.S. version of Best of Bowie, and the 30th Anniversary edition of Aladdin Sane. A stereo version, which is around a minute shorter than the mono version, circulated unofficially among collectors and finally saw official release in November 2014 on Bowie’s Nothing Has Changed compilation set. There also exists a version consisting of the backing track for Mott the Hoople’s version with Bowie’s guide vocal. A variant of this version, combining Bowie’s vocal on the verses with Ian Hunter’s on the chorus, was released on the 2006 reissue of All the Young Dudes. Bowie also used the music in reverse as the basis for “Move On,” a track on his 1979 album, Lodger.

Always Crashing in the Same Car
Album: Low
Released: 1977
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This song is a metaphor for making the same mistakes over and over again. Bowie wrote this around the time he retreated from the USA to Europe in order to recover from his cocaine addiction.
This song had a third verse which Bowie sang in the style of Bob Dylan, but Bowie asked the producer, Tony Visconti, to delete it. Bowie did not feel it was appropriate, considering Dylan had a motorcycle accident in 1966. Indeed, Visconti said the verse was “spooky, not funny.”

Amsterdam
Album: Pin Ups
Released: 1973

Scott Walker recorded several of these translated Brel songs in the late 1960s. This inspired David Bowie to record his own versions of “Amsterdam” in the early 1970s. Bowie’s studio version was released as the B-side to his single “Sorrow” in September 1973. (This recording may have been made in the summer of 1973 or in late 1971. Brel originally stated that he didn’t want to “give his songs to fags”, and refused to meet Bowie, who nevertheless admired him.

Bowie’s version is also found on several other releases:

It was released as picture discs in both the RCA Life Time picture disc set and the Fashion Picture Disc Set

The July 1982 German rerelease of the single “Alabama Song” had “Amsterdam” as the B-side.

On the December 1982 RCA Records compilation album Rare (1973 single; B-side “Sorrow”)

On the 1990 Rykodisc CD release of Bowie’s 1973 album Pin Ups, “Port of Amsterdam” was released as a bonus track (1973 single; B-side “Sorrow”)

On the 1989 Living Legend Records Publishing CD Chameleon Chronicles Vol.3 (LLRCD 050) “Amsterdam” was recorded for D.L.T. (Dave Lee Travis Show) as “David Bowie and Junior’s Eyes” 20 October 1969; broadcast date 26 October 1969.

“David Bowie and the Tony Visconti Trio (aka The Hype)” recorded “Amsterdam” for the BBC radio show The Sunday Show introduced by John Peel on 5 February 1970 (broadcast date 8 February 1970). This performance may be heard on the 2000 Virgin Records CD Bowie at the Beeb.

Andy Warhol
Album: Hunky Dory
Released: 1971

This acoustic song is about the artist Andy Warhol, who was one of Bowie’s greatest inspirations. In his 2003 interview with Performing Songwriter magazine, Bowie explained that he had not met Warhol when he wrote this song and he got an interesting reaction when he played it for him. Said Bowie: “I took the song to The Factory when I first came to America and played it to him, and he hated it. Loathed it. He went [imitates Warhol’s blasé manner] ‘Oh, uh-huh, okay…’ then just walked away (laughs). I was left there. Somebody came over and said, ‘Gee, Andy hated it.’ I said, ‘Sorry, it was meant to be a compliment.’ ‘Yeah, but you said things about him looking weird. Don’t you know that Andy has such a thing about how he looks? He’s got a skin disease and he really thinks that people kind of see that.’ I was like, ‘Oh, no.’ It didn’t go down very well, but I got to know him after that. It was my shoes that got him. That’s where we found something to talk about. They were these little yellow things with a strap across them, like girls’ shoes. He absolutely adored them. Then I found out that he used to do a lot of shoe designing when he was younger. He had a bit of a shoe fetishism. That kind of broke the ice. He was an odd guy.

April’s Tooth Of Gold
Album: Not On A Album
Released: 1967

A small front page story in the May 19, 1973 issue of Music Week revealed Essex sues David Bowie.

The company had issued a High Court writ claiming a 1967 agreement assigned them “Ching-A-Ling”, “Mother Grey” and “April’s Tooth Of Gold”.

“April’s Tooth Of Gold” is arguably the best of these three tracks; an acoustic or semi-acoustic demo recording by a solo Bowie was made of this, and a Millennium later, it has stood the test of time.

Around and Around
Album: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Released: 1972

This song was recorded in 1971, produced by Ken Scott, under the title “Round and Round”. It was released as the B-side of the single “Drive-In Saturday” in April 1973. This is one of David Bowie’s rarer recordings. It was also found on the compilations Rare (1983) and the Sound + Vision box set. Picture disc versions was released in both the RCA Life Time picture disc set and the Fashion Picture Disc Set. In 2002 it was released on the Ziggy Stardust – 30th Anniversary Reissue bonus disc.

Art Decade
Album: Low
Released: 1977

The pun of the title – art decayed – reflects David Bowie’s own concern with his artistic inspiration needing some rejuicing, as could be seen on another song from the Low album, Sound and Vision.

But like that other track Art Decade was actually a sign that Bowie was well back on track, being another of his fine instrumental collaborations with Brian Eno

As the World Falls Down
Album: Labyrinth
Released: 1986

Is a song written by David Bowie in 1986 for the soundtrack of the film Labyrinth.

The song is the backdrop for an illusion which Jareth the Goblin King (Bowie) builds around Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) through the use of an enchanted peach. The illusion is of a masquerade ball inside a bubble. Sarah is the only character in this scene without a mask, though Jareth removes his mask earlier in the scene

Ashes to Ashes
Album: Scary Monsters
Released: 1980

This song can be seen as a sequel to Bowie’s 1969 hit, “Space Oddity.” It revisits the fictional astronaut, Major Tom, who is now in space. He has regained communication with Ground Control and tells them he is happy, but they deem him nothing but a “junkie, strung out in heavens high, hitting an all-time low.” Fans believe this to be Bowie’s autobiographical piece about his fight against drug abuse and other personal demons.
The closing refrain of this song, “My mama said to get things done, you’d better not mess with Major Tom,” suggests that in order to make the best of the future, one should not dwell on the past. It has also been suggested that “Space Oddity” was a thinly veiled reference to a drug trip, and that “Ashes to Ashes” is hinting that in order to move on, Bowie must kick these drug habits. >>
In his 2003 interview with Performing Songwriter magazine, Bowie explains that the song “Inchworm,” which was sung by Danny Kaye in the 1952 movie Hans Christian Andersen, was a big influence on “Ashes To Ashes.” Said Bowie: “I loved it as a kid and it’s stayed with me forever. I keep going back to it. You wouldn’t believe the amount of my songs that have sort of spun off that one song. Not that you’d really recognize it. Something like ‘Ashes to Ashes’ wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t have been for ‘Inchworm.’ There’s a child’s nursery rhyme element in it, and there’s something so sad and mournful and poignant about it. It kept bringing me back to the feelings of those pure thoughts of sadness that you have as a child, and how they’re so identifiable even when you’re an adult. There’s a connection that can be made between being a somewhat lost five-year old and feeling a little abandoned and having the same feeling when you’re in your twenties. And it was that song that did that for me.”
The music video for “Ashes to Ashes” features Bowie dressed as Pierrot in a variety of bizarre situations. Steve Strange of the New Wave band, Visage, cameos. Bowie has said the shot of himself and other characters marching towards the camera in front of a bulldozer symbolizes “oncoming violence.” During this scene, the characters behind Bowie are not bowing, but simply trying to pull their gowns away from the bulldozer so they don’t get stuck! This, and many other images in the video suggest that Bowie may be trying to bury the various personas he developed.

The video, which Bowie directed with David Mallet, cost £250,000 to produce, making it the most expensive music video ever made at the time. It was released a year before MTV went on the air.
In 1983, Peter Schilling released “Major Tom (I’m Coming Home),” which is based on the Major Tom character. It was a rare instance of someone making a sequel to a song by another artist.
This was sampled on Samantha Mumba’s “Body II Body.” Bowie gave his seal of approval to Samantha’s song, but a lot of his fans hated it. >>
The British BBC TV series, Ashes to Ashes, was named after this song. The series served as the sequel to Life on Mars, which was also named after the Bowie song of the same name.
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) was ranked at #30 on Q Magazine’s “100 Greatest British Albums Ever.”

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Baby Loves That Way
Album: released as the B-side of single “You’ve Got a Habit of Leaving” under the name Davy Jones & the Lower Third.
Released: 1965

Toy album (2000)

1965 version

Other releases
It also appeared on the compilation Early On (1964-1966) from 1991.
Bowie recorded a new version of the song in 2000 for the unreleased Toy album. This version appeared on the Japanese release of the single “Slow Burn”, the two-disc deluxe edition of ‘Heathen’ and the UK and European release of the single “Everyone Says ‘Hi'”Released:

Bang Bang
Album: Never Let Me Down
Released: 1987

From the album “Never Let Me Down”

Live version (1983)

“Bang Bang” was released as a promotional single in late 1987, the final single from Bowie’s album Never Let Me Down. The live version includes Peter Frampton on guitar.

Track listing
1. “Bang Bang (live version)” (Recorded at the Olympic Stadium, Montreal Canada, 30 August 1987 during the Glass Spider Tour) 4:09
2. “Modern Love” (From the album Let’s Dance, 1983) 4:47
3. “Loving the Alien” (From the album Tonight, 1984) 7:08
4. “Bang Bang (album version)” (Pop, Kral)

Battle for Britain (The Letter)
Album: Earthling
Released: 1977

David Bowie challenged his pianist Mike Garson’s knowledge of classical music when recording this song. Garson recall to Uncut magazine: “He said, ‘to know the Stravinsky Ocetet? Can you play something like that in your solo?’ I ran downstairs to the record stall, listening to the piece again – I hadn’t heard it in 30 years – then I played this crazy solo and he was thrilled.”

Be My Wife
Album: Low
Released: 1977

Its presence in Low tones down the electronic feel of the rest of the album. The song also features a more conventional lyric which is closer to a traditional rock song than the more fragmented lyrics elsewhere on that album.

Allegedly several analysts of Bowie’s career have seen the song as a last-ditch plea to Angela Bowie in the vain hope of saving his marriage. Tension apparently had arisen between the couple, and disagreements have been claimed to have arisen over the location of a new residence in Europe. Angela had shown herself to be heavily affected by his music; he had reputedly proposed to her by playing “The Prettiest Star” to her over the telephone. In the end it seems here that David would not agree to move back to Switzerland from Berlin, and the relationship finally ended in divorce in 1980, which may be confirmed by the reference below.

The song features a ragtime piano opening, which serves the somewhat retro lyrics some justice, although it is soon set against a backdrop of guitars and drums. The song repeats its lyrics, changing the spacing of the lyrics amongst the song’s verse. The song closes simply with a fadeout, as the song returns to the introductory ragtime riff repeating indefinitely, with the rest of the band playing behind it.

“Be My Wife” was the second single from Low after “Sound and Vision”, but it became the first new Bowie release since “Changes” to fail to break into the UK chart.

“Be My Wife” was frequently played live on the various tours after its release and Bowie is said to have repeatedly announced this song during live performances as “one of my favourites,” as may be seen or heard in such concert footage or audio recordings.

Beauty and the Beast
Album: Heroes
Released: 1977

The follow-up single to “Heroes,” this ode to Bowie’s love/hate relationship with cocaine during his addiction to the drug in the mid 1970s was considered an unconventional choice for release. The song only just scraped into the UK Top 40 and failed to chart at all in the US.
The song featured Robert Fripp on lead guitar with synthesizer work by Brian Eno. The King Crimson axeman recalled to Mojo in 2015: “I was in my apartment in New York and the phone went. Brian (Eno) said. ‘Do you think you could come along and play some hairy rock ‘n’ roll guitar?'”

“I got to the studio and asked to hear something they’d been working on,” he continued. “Brian said, ‘Why don’t you plug in?’ They hit the tape, ‘Beauty And The Beast,’ and what you hear on record is what I played after hearing it for the first time without anything being said.”

Because You’re Young
Album: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Released: 1980

Bowie portrata a caracter not unlike himself: someone perhaps in their who observes a teenaged girl about to throw her life away on someone she meets on a chance encounter .The implication – although not clear – is that he may have been involved in a similar chance encounter years ago and doesn’t wish to see the girl make the same mistake. Like the classic clown pierrot, Bowie feels sad for the girl , but continues to dance his life away – the only escape he can find from the scars of the past.
The sound of “Because You’re Young” is thoroughly late 1070’s new wave (info Pushing Ahead Of The Dame)

A Better Future
Album: Heathen
Released: 2002

another Bowie conversation with God on Heathen. Here he treats God as a girlfriend who’s disappointed him of late; he’s even considering ditching the relationship unless God gets his act together.

In one of his more bizarre revisits, Bowie referenced a verse of his never-released “Miss Peculiar (How Lucky You Are)” in the bridge of “A Better Future.”* “Miss Peculiar” was something of Bowie’s attempt at “Under My Thumb” (it was offered to Tom Jones): when you walk, you follow: two steps behind! Its ghost, turning up a generation later, turned the tables: now it’s a man resenting that he’s under God’s thumb: When you talk, we talk, too (or “to you”).

The Bewlay Brothers
Album: Hunky Dory
Released: 1971

Virtually no entry in the David Bowie songbook has confused the hardcores quite like “The Bewlay Brothers.” It was the final track recorded for Hunky Dory and Bowie said at the time the lyrics were nonsense, but in later years he hinted it was inspired by his schizophrenic half-brother Terry. “I was never quire sure what real position Terry had in my life,” he said in 2000, “whether Terry was a real person or whether I was actually referencing another part of me, and I think ‘Bewlay Brothers’ was really about that.” Others have seen clear homosexual overtones in the surreal lyrics, but Bowie’s never commented on that. He’s also only played it five times, and those were all between 2002 and 2004.

Big Brother
Album: Diamond Dogs
Released: 1974
The character Big Brother was invented by the author, journalist and critic George Orwell (1903-50). Orwell was his pen name; he was born Eric Arthur Blair, the son of a civil servant in Bengal, India, which was then under British administration. When he was young, Orwell became a Communist but his experiences in Spain during the 30s instilled in him a bitter hatred of the ideology, and he penned two brilliant novels attacking Communism, Stalinism in particular. The first of these novels, Animal Farm, was a satire on the Russian Revolution; the second, 1984, was a projection into a future dystopia which was ruled by a tyrannical all-pervasive government that controlled every aspect of its citizens’ lives. Love – except love for Big Brother – and indeed the sexual act were outlawed, certainly for party members and aparatchiks, and anyone could be denounced for any reason. Arbitrary arrest, torture and execution were very real threats for anyone and everyone.
1984 saw the introduction of the concept of thought crime, something that has become very real today. At the top of the pyramid was Big Brother, a cult figure who may not have actually existed. Over the half century and more since Orwell’s death, the term Big Brother has come to mean an all-pervasive, all-seeing state which seeks to control the affairs of every citizen and enforces even the slightest deviance with Draconian penalties. In the book, people were monitored by CCTV even in their own homes; the state could hear literally every word they spoke. In the modern world, the term Big Brother has become synonymous with this type of surveillance.
Bowie’s song, which runs to 3 minutes 21 seconds, was written in 1973 and intended for a musical adaptation of the novel, but Orwell’s estate refused permission. The song mirrors the supposedly paternalistic face of Big Brother, and ends with the refrain “We want you Big Brother,” a sad but accurate comment on those of a politically correct disposition.

Black Country Rock
Album: The Man Who Sold The World
Released: 1970

David Bowie lived in the early 1970s with his then-wife Angie in an expansive flat at Haddon Hall, a Gothic Victorian villa just north of the Beckenham town centre in south east London. Bowie wrote most of the material for The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust there.
Bowie cooked up this blues-rocker in a basement jam, adding the words at the last minute in the studio. It was named after its apparent resemblance to Birmingham rock group, The Move. (Birmingham and its surrounding area is known as ‘The Black Country.’)
The song featured on the soundtrack of the 2010 movie The Kids Are All Right.

Black Tie White Noise
Album:Black Tie White Noise
Released: 1993

This song was inspired by the racial tensions in America following the 1991 beating of the black motorist Rodney King at the hands of four white police officers in Los Angeles. Bowie said that the title refers to “the racial boundaries that have been put up in most of the Western world,” and adds that Black/White also refers to the caustic way of thinking that gets in the way of understanding – the idea that everything is one way or another, with no in between. The song is meant to be a challenging, realistic look at how we deal with race, and not, as Bowie says, another “Ebony And Ivory.”
The “black ties” Bowie sings about have a dual meaning. In addition to pieces of formal wear, they also relate to the black American musicians who made Bowie aspire to become a songwriter and performer. Bowie says his first musical revelation was when his dad brought home a copy of Little Richard’s

Blackout
Album: Heroes
Released: 1977

“Blackout” is as abrasive as “Heroes” gets—the track seems to have been battled over by waves of armies. The verses are a series of assaults, with something resembling a chorus appearing only a minute-half in. Robert Fripp’s guitar, which early on calls back to his solo on Eno’s “St. Elmo’s Fire,” later approaches dog whistle frequencies; it seems bent on undermining Bowie’s vocal. Eno’s synthesizer burbles in the right channel. The backing vocals are conscripted to keep the lead from disintegrating (Bowie seems to falter while singing “kiss me in the rain,” as if he’s so drained he can barely form the words—the backing singers (Bowie and Visconti) keep at him, but he stumbles, finally inching out “in…the…rain.”) Pieces of old Bowie songs are churned up—Alomar’s guitar (kept to the left channel, he sounds like the only sane man left in the room) offers a riff that seems a marriage of “Suffragette City” and “Boney Maronie,” while the “chorus” section reworks “Stay.”

Bowie sings long, meandering lines that he severs with shouts and mutters. It’s an even more bizarre and mannered performance than “Joe the Lion”—there’s the ranted-out “I’m under Japanese influence and my honor’s at STAKE!” or, even crazier, the lines where Bowie seems to be attempting a New York accent: “I’m getting some SKIN EXPOSHUH to the BLACK-OUT!”

“Blackout”‘s lyric was another live-at-the mic production, though the lines are so deliberately random that it’s likely Bowie did some cut-up experiments to get a few of them. The lyric is said to be inspired by all sorts of disasters, like Bowie, agitated after the appearance of his wife Angie, passing out from drink and being hospitalized in late 1976. Bowie, perhaps mischievously, later said the song was a reaction to the New York City power outage of July ’77. And “Blackout” feels like an urban song, all crowds and paranoia, with the streets of Berlin subbing for the purgatorial Los Angeles of Station to Station or “Always Crashing in the Same Car.” (info Pushing Ahead Of The Dame)

Blackstar
Album: Blackstar
Released: 2015

David Bowie wrote and recorded this for the opening credits of The Last Panthers, a six-part crime thriller co-produced by UK’s Sky and France’s Canal+. It marks the first time Bowie has contributed original music for a movie or TV show, since he recorded “I’m Afraid Of Americans” for the 1995 film Showgirls.
Bowie wrote the track after meeting Swedish director Johan Renck, whose previous work includes Breaking Bad, during filming. “I was looking for one of the icons of my youth to write the music for the title sequence, but was presented with a god,” Renck said. “His first response was precise, engaged and curious. The piece of music he laid before us embodied every aspect of our characters and the series itself – dark, brooding, beautiful and sentimental (in the best possible incarnation of this word).”

He added: “All along, the man inspired and intrigued me and as the process passed, I was overwhelmed with his generosity. I still can’t fathom what actually happened.”
The full, just under 10-minute track was released on November 20, 2015 as the lead single from the Blackstar album. The original version was more than 11 minutes long, but Bowie and producer Tony Visconti cut it to 9:57 after learning iTunes won’t post singles that cross the 10-minute mark. “David was adamant it be the single,” Visconti told Rolling Stone, “and he didn’t want both an album version and a single version, since that gets confusing.”

Blue Jean
Album: Tonight
Released: 1984

Bowie described this Eddie Cochran-inspired single in a 1987 interview as “a piece of sexist rock ‘n roll. [laughs] It’s about picking up birds. It’s not very cerebral, that piece.”

Bombers
Album: Hunky Dory (bonus track on the Rykodisc reissue of Hunky Dory in 1990
Released: 1971

was recorded in July 1971 and intended for the album Hunky Dory, but was replaced at the last minute by the cover “Fill Your Heart”.

It was released as a promo single by RCA in the US in November 1971, backed by a remix of “Eight Line Poem” that can only be found on this single (both tracks also were issued on an extremely limited edition promotional LP by RCA/Gem). A bootleg version backing “London Bye Ta-Ta” was also released in the early 1970s. The track was eventually given wide release as a bonus track on the Rykodisc reissue of Hunky Dory in 1990.

Track listing
“Bombers” (Bowie)
“Eight Line Poem” (Bowie)

Born In A UFO
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

This Space anthem was one of several songs recorded during the end of The Next Day sessions but only “Valentine’s Day” made it onto the album. However, it does feature on The Next Day Extra, an expanded three-disc collector’s edition of the LP.
The song finds Bowie delivering choice lines about a lover from another star system. Producer Tony Visconti described it to NME as “quite a dense piece of music with relentless, fast-paced lyrics.” He added “This song could’ve been recorded during Lodger – it’s got those kind of chords.”

Boss Of Me
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

This romantic Pop tune finds Bowie singing of a smitten lad. “Who’d have ever dreamed,” he marvels wistfully, “that a smalltown girl like you would be the boss of me?” Producer Tony Visconti told Rolling Stone: “That is one of the slower, funky ones. It’s really solid. There’s a little Young Americans in there. But that’s really not proper… It’s a new kind of direction for him, melodically. Doesn’t sound like typical Bowie, that track. But it’s a very good track.”

Boys Keep Swinging
Album: Lodger
Released: 1979

Adraian Belew, David Bowie’s guitarist on the Lodger album, told Uncut magazine that Bowie wrote this with him in mind. He recalled: “In New York, David was doing vocals for ‘Boys Keep Swinging.’ He played me it and said: ‘This is written after you, in the spirit of you.’ I think he saw me as a naïve person who just enjoyed life. I was thrilled with that.”
In July 1979, more than two years before the debut of MTV, Rolling Stone magazine mentioned that “promotional videotapes” were becoming “the newest selling tool in rock,” noting Bowie’s video for “Boys Keep Swinging” as an example. In said video, Bowie sings the backing vocals in drag.

Bowie put a lot of effort into creating intriguing videos for his songs, some of which the BBC refused to play because of suggestive content (“Heroes” shows a light coming from Bowie’s crotch; “DJ” shows men grabbing and kissing Bowie). The clip for “Boys Keep Swinging,” however, got by the BBC censors, who apparently watched only the first minute of the clip before approving it. This first minute shows Bowie performing the song in a sharp suit, but it gets progressively nuttier, with Bowie walking a runway in drag, even smearing his lipstick across his mouth. When the BBC aired the clip, they got lots of complaints from horrified viewers.

Breaking Glass
Album: Low
Released: 1977

According to Paul Trynka, the author of David Bowie’s biography Starman, this short, one verse song was inspired by a row Bowie had with his wife Angie’s friend, Roy Martin. They were visiting him in the studio and an argument started which developed into glasses being thrown. Co-producer Tony Visconti and Bowie’s friend Iggy Pop had to run in and pull Bowie away from Martin. Bowie later penned the track with his bassist George Murray and drummer Dennis Davis.
A reworked, longer version was a regular on Bowie’s 1978 tour and the singer’s performance of the song at the Philadelphia Spectrum was used as the lead track on a 7″ EP to promote Bowie’s live album, Stage in the UK. The EP reached #54 on the UK Singles Chart in December 1978.

Brilliant Adventure
Album: Hours
Released: 1999

Brilliant Adventure” is echo-music, here of “Moss Garden,” Bowie’s koto piece on “Heroes” (which itself echoed Edgar Froese’s “Epsilon in Malaysian Pale,” as commenter Gnomemansland noted). “Moss Garden” had ambition (an attempt, successful or not, to interweave “Western” and “Eastern” soundscapes) and fearlessness: it was the work of a man seemingly intent on becoming an inspired amateur again, plucking the strings of an instrument he could scarcely play. The piece kept opening up as it went on, disclosing new perspectives as it wandered.(info Pushing Ahead Of The Dame)

Bring Me the Disco King
Album: Reality
Released: 2003

Contrary to some perspectives, Bowie did release quality stuff towards the latter half of his career. Never more was this more apparent than in “Bring Me the Disco King,” the final track of his final (or so we thought) album, Reality. Sounding like a recording from some dark jazz bar, the song has Bowie reflecting on his career, and it’s not a happy listen. Rather, it’s a song filled with regret and sadness. No wonder people thought Bowie was done with music forever. Though the meandering, seven-plus minute track might prove a bit taxing for some, it’s the kind of song that, if it hits you at the right time, will haunt you long after it’s over.

The Buddha of Suburbia
Album: The Buddha of Suburbia (soundtrack)
Released: 1993

Buddha of Suburbia soundtrack to a British TV miniseries from being released in the U.S. until 1995, when it was slipped out in the wake of his new album, Outside. That’s too bad, because The Buddha of Suburbia is an often engaging collection of songs and instrumental passages that recalls many previous Bowie albums, including such disparate efforts as The Man Who Sold the World, Aladdin Sane, and Low. It’s not a major effort by any means, but in another context songs like “Strangers When We Meet” easily could become Bowie favorites.

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Cactus
Album: Heathen
Released: 2002

David Bowie recorded a version of the song for his Heathen album in 2002. This version features D-A-V-I-D spelled in the break. Bowie performed the song live on his 2002 Heathen Tour concerts and the A Reality Tour. A November 2003 live performance is included on the A Reality Tour DVD, as well as the A Reality Tour album. The Pixies played the song at a Bowie tribute concert in 2016, as a Bowie cover.

Can You Hear Me?
Album: Young Americans
Released: 1975

Bowie likely wrote “Can You Hear Me,” originally called “Take It In Right,” in late 1973 and he cut a studio demo of it on New Year’s Day 1974 (when he also taped “Alternative Candidate”). A few months later he tried the song out in New York as a possible single for Lulu. While nothing was released from the Lulu session, it did bear fruit: there Bowie first met the guitarist Carlos Alomar, who Bowie recruited for his next album.

In August ’74, Alomar came to Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound studios with his wife Robin Clark and their friend, a 23-year-old aspiring singer and songwriter named Luther Vandross. Before long, Clark and Vandross, who had come only to give “moral support” to Alomar, were drafted as singers, with Vandross soon becoming Bowie’s de facto singing coach and vocal arranger for the sessions.

So “Can You Hear Me” was an early test of the call-and-response vocal arrangements Bowie and Vandross would use for nearly every Young Americans track. The richness of the backing vocals here, the somber but warm assurance with which the singers hold notes, the way they work as a stronger melodic echo of Bowie’s vocal (while Bowie first introduces the “take it in right” hook, the chorus is who really sells it), all serves to center and anchor Bowie’s flighty, desperate lead vocal. As Bowie told David Buckley in 2006, “my drug problems were playing havoc with my voice, producing a real raspy sound that I fought all the time when I wanted to sing high, swooping into falsetto and such.”

And Bowie’s vocal here seems like a long battle. He first sings the title phrase, which starts the chorus, fairly low in his range, and when he finally goes up with four ascending notes on the first “take it in right” he drops down a half-octave two beats later. There’s his odd nasal phrasing in the second verse (“there’s been so many others,” where Bowie makes a rhyme out of thurrs and othurrs), his shaky falsetto in the later verses. On further repeats of “take it in right” Bowie again seems to struggle, falling back as soon as he reaches a new peak. Only the last chorus repeat of “take it in right” has a sense of release, as if Bowie’s willed himself to break through. The song ends with a 20-bar outro in which Bowie and the chorus trade lines: they’re finally left standing alone, singing the last seconds of the song a cappella.

“Can You Hear Me” is something of an answer song to the Ohio Players’ “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,” which Bowie also tried out in the early Sigma sessions. Where “Here Today” has the singer lamenting a wayward lover, “Can You Hear Me” is told from the player’s perspective, someone who travels through “sixty new cities” and “wants love so badly” but still wants the person he’s singing to know they’re the only one. (Biographers have claimed it’s a barely-disguised message to Ava Cherry, who Bowie was involved with at the time.) There’s an unease to the performance: it’s a love song shot through with guilt, doubt and disgust, with its ornate production and cathedral of voices disguising a weak, pathetic man lurking at the heart of it, whose love may not even be genuine. I’m checking you out one day to see if I’m faking it all, he sings, pausing before the last three words. (Cher, while singing those lines in her duet with Bowie, smiles with malice.)
INFO : Pushing Ahead Of The Dame

Can’t Help Thinking About Me
Album: Single Release Only
Released: 1966

18-year-old Davie Jones became David Bowie in late 1965, to avoid confusion with the actor/singer Davy Jones (soon to become a member of The Monkees). This single, released under the name David Bowie with The Lower Third, was his first song under his new performing moniker.
The song was recorded in the basement of Pye’s offices in Great Cumberland Place, Central London on December 10, 1965. Bowie has been signed to the Pye Records label through the successful hitmaker Tony Hatch based on two demos (this song and “Now You’ve Met The London Boys”) just a fortnight previously. Hatch also played piano on the recording and provided backing vocals along with the rest of his group.
Bowie admitted when introducing this song during a 1999 performance for VH1 Storytellers, that lyrically, this wasn’t his finest hour: “It’s a beautiful piece of solipsism; it’s called ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me,'” he said. “And it does contain, though some might disagree, one of the worst… two of the worst lines I’ve ever written. I actually have to sing this: “My girl calls my name. ‘Hi, Dave. Drop in, come back, see you around, if you’re this way again.'”

Candidate
Album: Diamond Dogs
Released: 1974

David Bowie explained to the Mail on Sunday June 29, 2008 that this medley of three songs was originally written for his aborted musical 1984: “I’d failed to obtain the theatrical rights from George Orwell’s widow for the book 1984 and having written three or more songs for it already, I did a fast about-face and recobbled the idea into Diamond Dogs: teen punks on rusty skates living on the roofs of the dystopian Hunger City; a post-apocalyptic landscape.

A centrepiece for this would-be stage production was to be ‘Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing,’ which I wrote using William Burroughs’s cut-up method. You write down a paragraph or two describing several different subjects creating a kind of story ingredients list, I suppose, and then cut the sentences into four or five-word sections; mix ’em up and reconnect them. You can get some pretty interesting idea combinations like this. You can use them as is or, if you have a craven need to not lose control, bounce off these ideas and write whole new sections.

I was looking to create a profligate world that could have been inhabited by characters from Kurt Weill or John Rechy – that sort of atmosphere. A bridge between Enid Blyton’s Beckenham and The Velvet Underground’s New York. Without Noddy, though.

I thought it evocative to wander between the melodramatic ‘Sweet Thing’ croon into the dirty sound of ‘Candidate’ and back again. For no clear reason (what’s new?) I stopped singing this song around the mid-’70s. Though I’ve never had the patience or discipline to get down to finishing a musical theater idea other than the Rock shows I’m known for, I know what I’d try to produce if I did. I’ve never been keen on traditional musicals. I find it awfully hard to suspend my disbelief when dialogue is suddenly song. I suppose one of the few people who can make this work is Stephen Sondheim with works such as Assassins. I much prefer through-sung pieces where there is little if any dialogue at all. Sweeney Todd is a good example, of course. Peter Grimes and The Turn Of The Screw, both operas by Benjamin Britten, and The Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny by Weill. How fantastic to be able to create something like that.”
These are listed as three separate tracks on the tracklisting of Diamond Dogs, though in reality it is a medley with “Candidate” splitting the two sections of “Sweet Thing.”

Cat People (Putting Out Fire)
Album: Let’s Dance
Released: 1982

This was originally recorded as the theme song for director Paul Shrader’s remake of the 1942 horror film Cat People. German producer Giorgio Moroder had already recorded most of the music and Shrader asked Bowie to write the words and record the main theme. The movie is about a family with a tendency to turn into panthers.
The single became Bowie’s biggest solo hit in America since “Golden Years” six years previously in 1976. It peaked at #1 in New Zealand, remaining there for three weeks and was also #1 in Sweden.

Buoyed by it’s success, Bowie re-recorded the song for his Let’s Dance album the following year. The second verse, which begins “Feel my blood enraged” was left off his updated version. Most people prefer his stronger, atmospheric original version, which was included on his 1993 American greatest hits release Bowie: The Singles (1969-1993) but not on the UK equivalent – The Singles Collection.

Changes
Album: Hunky Dory
Released: 1971

Bowie wrote this when he was going through a lot of personal change. Bowie’s wife, Angela, was pregnant with the couple’s first child, Duncan. Bowie got along very well with his father and was very excited to have a child of his own. This optimism shines through in “Changes.”
According to Bowie, this started out as a parody of a nightclub song – “kind of throwaway” – but people kept chanting for it at concerts and thus it became one of his most popular and enduring songs. Bowie had no idea it was going to become so successful, but the song connected with his young audience who could relate to lyrics like “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.”
Bowie had just started using a keyboard to write songs, which opened up new possibilities for him in terms of melody and structure. This fresh approach resulted in “Changes.”

Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family
Album:
Released:
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Brutish and short, “Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family” was the only way Bowie could have ended something like Diamond Dogs. Segueing from “Big Brother,” the track could be Winston Smith’s complete, joyous submission to power, or it could just as well be the return of the Diamond Dogs, dancing around a bonfire on some skyscraper roof in Hunger City.

“Chant,” almost purely a rhythm track, is something of a rhythmic puzzle. Nicholas Pegg wrote that “Chant” is in alternating measures of 6/4 and 5/4, which doesn’t seem right. Rather “Chant” seems to begin with alternating bars of 2/4 and 3/4 and then, in the six “choruses” (1 chorus = 1 set of “brother,” “ooh ooh,” “shake it up” x2, “move it up” x2), it moves completely to 5/4 [edit: no, it doesn’t.]. Further accents–three beats on a tambourine every three measures, a cowbell coming in on the second chorus (hit either two or three times), what sounds like a guiro on the third—seem intended to muddle the sense of time
INFO: Pushing Ahead Of The Dame

China Girl
Album: Let’s Dance
Released: 1983

In this song, the singer warns the China Girl that he will destroy her culture by imparting Western values of materialism and superficial beauty (“I’ll give you television, I’ll give you eyes of blue, I’ll give you a man who wants to rule the world”).

Paul Trynka, the author of David Bowie’s biography Starman, claims the song was inspired by Iggy Pop’s infatuation with Kuelan Nguyen, a beautiful Vietnamese woman. She was staying at the studio and Bowie encouraged the couple’s relationship. It has also be argued that the song is about heroin addiction, as “China White” is slang for the drug.
Iggy Pop wrote this with Bowie. It first appeared on Iggy’s 1977 album The Idiot. The song did not see commercial success until later performed by Bowie.

Conversation Piece
Album: David Bowie 1990 bonus tracks
Released: 1969

Conversation Piece is a song from David Bowie’s 1969 album “David Bowie” (was released as “Man of Words/Man of Music” in the US) and It was reissued in 1972 by RCA Records as “Space Oddity” .It contains a mix of folk, balladry, and prog rock. Held to be “the first Bowie album proper”, and his first deemed worthy by record companies of regular reissue, Space Oddity featured a notable list of collaborators, including session players Herbie Flowers, Tim Renwick, Terry Cox, and Rick Wakeman, as well as cellist Paul Buckmaster, multi-instrumentalist and producer Tony Visconti, and bassist John Lodge. In 1990, the album was rereleased by Rykodisc/EMI with an expanded track listing including a restored “Don’t Sit Down” as well as “Conversation Piece” and the two-part re-recording of “Memory of a Free Festival” that had been released as a single in 1970.

Cracked Actor
Album: Aladdin Sane
Released: 1973

the song is about an aging Hollywood star in an encounter with a prostitute, the chorus including various allusions to sex and drugs:

Crack, baby, crack, show me you’re real
Smack, baby, smack, is that all that you feel
Suck, baby, suck, give me your head

Before you start professing that you’re knocking me dead
Rolling Stone suggested that Bowie’s goal was “to strip the subject of his validity, as he has done with the rocker, as a step towards a re-definition of these roles and his own inhabiting of them”. However NME writers Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray considered that the song “reveals little else except that Bowie’s capabilities with a mouth-harp are decidedly limited”.

Criminal World
Album: Let’s Dance
Released: 1983

Let’s Dance is Bowie’s last blockbuster album, the conclusion of arguably the greatest 14-year run in rock history. The album kicks off with the triple shot of “Modern Love,” “China Girl” and “Let’s Dance,” meaning that many of the fans who bought the album because of the MTV hits probably didn’t bother to turn the thing over more than once or twice. They missed out on “Criminal World,” a fantastically 1980s tune with killer guitar work from Stevie Ray Vaughan. It’s the only track on the LP not written by Bowie — it’s by the widely forgotten 1970s band Metro.

Criminal World was also released as the B-side of the single “Without You” in November 1983. When first released it was banned from the Radio One playlist for its ‘suggestive’ lyrical content. It is rumoured that the US military played it through a large PA system as a form of aural encouragement whilst trying to dislodge General Manuel Noriega from his office during their invasion of Panama in 1989.

Crystal Japan
Album: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Released: 1980

“Crystal Japan” is an instrumental piece written by David Bowie and released as a single in Japan in 1980. It was recorded in 1979 and used in a Japanese commercial for the sake Crystal Jun Rock, which also featured an appearance by Bowie, although he said at the time that the track was not specifically written for this purpose. Originally titled “Fuje Moto San”, it was going to close the Scary Monsters album until replaced by “It’s No Game (No. 2)”

Cygnet Committee
Album: David Bowie / Space Oddity
Released: 1969 / 1972

On the eponymous David Bowie album (1969), rereleased as Space Oddity (1972), there was this track, Cygnet Committee. I don’t pretend to know what a Cygnet Committee was or is. I’m not sure Bowie himself does. And though there is a lot that is musically familiar about this piece (the descending prog-rock sequence at the opening, and the predictable major-chord cycle of the song’s climax), it’s the words that make the difference – and the way they are sung. The basic idea – relevant today in the upheaval sweeping the Arab world – is that revolutions founder on the new orthodoxies they impose (“We can force you to be free/ We can force you to believe”). There is the wretched oxymoron of the peaceful ideal of the mid-60s counterculture being subverted by the violence it abhorred, as the decades clicked over. (“I will fight for the right to be right/ I will kill for the good of the fight for the right to be right”.) And then that alarming culmination: “We want to live. I want to live.” Anywhere else that might be stating the obvious; here Bowie, hollow of cheekbone and hounded by a demonic lead guitar, makes it sound like an urgent priority.

This is a piece of the period, a visceral scream that even 40 years later makes the hairs on the neck stand up. A movement came and went and left an awful lot of pieces to be cleared up afterwards.

Dancing in the Street
Album:
Released: 1985

A hit cover version of “Dancing in the Street” was recorded by the English rock singers Mick Jagger and David Bowie as a duo in 1985, to raise money for the Live Aid famine relief cause. The original plan was to perform a track together live, with Bowie performing at Wembley Stadium and Jagger at John F. Kennedy Stadium, until it was realized that the satellite link-up would cause a half-second delay that would make this impossible unless either Bowie or Jagger mimed their contribution, something neither artist was willing to do. In 1968, Jagger and Keith Richards had already “borrowed” a line from the song in “Street Fighting Man” – “‘Cause summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy.”

In June 1985, Bowie was recording his contributions to the Absolute Beginners soundtrack at Abbey Road Studios, and so Jagger arranged to fly in to record the track there. A rough mix of the track was completed in just four hours. Thirteen hours after the start of recording, the song and video was completed. Jagger arranged for some minor musical overdubs with Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero in New York.

Reception
The David Bowie and Mick Jagger recording of “Dancing in the Street” was issued as a single on EMI, with all profits going to the charity. The song topped the UK Singles Chart for four weeks, and reached No. 7 in the United States on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Bowie and Jagger would perform the song once more, at the Prince’s Trust Concert on June 20, 1986. The song has been featured since on several Bowie compilations. In a survey conducted by PRS for Music, the song was voted as the top song the British public would play at street parties in celebration of the 2011 Royal Wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William.

Music video
The pair went to London Docklands to film a video with director David Mallet. The music video was shown twice at the Live Aid event. It was also shown in movie theaters before showings of Ruthless People, for which Jagger had recorded the theme song.

Dancing with the Big Boys
Album: Tonight
Released: 1984

The resulting track, “Dancing With the Big Boys,” was the closest that Tonight ventured to spontaneity: a honking, barely-melodic album filler, with Bowie and Pop chants set against the band mainly staying on an augmented A chord** (there’s a move to D major on every fourth bar, adding a slight bit of tension quickly released by the return to A). Carlos Alomar contributed something (I’m assuming the various guitar riffs that serve as a counterpart to the Pop and Bowie vocals), as he’s co-credited along with Bowie and Pop.

Dancing out Space
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

Producer Tony Visconti told Rolling Stone about this multi-layered celebration of dance. “That’s a very uptempo one,” he said. “It’s got a Motown beat to it, but the rest of it is completely psychedelic. It’s got very floaty vibe. There’s a guy called David Torn who plays guitar, who we use; he comes with huge amounts of equipment that he creates these aural landscapes. He uses them in a rock context with all that ambient sound, and he’s bending his tremolo arm and all that. It’s just crazy, completely crazy sound on that track.”

Day-In Day-Out
Album: Never Let Me Down
Released: 1987

“Day-In Day-Out” is the first track on David Bowie’s album Never Let Me Down. It was issued as a single in March 1987, ahead of the album’s release. It was the most successful single from the album, peaking at No. 17 in the UK and charting in several other countries.

The song criticised the urban decay and deprivation in American cities at the time, concerned largely with the depths a young mother has to sink to feed her child, including attempting to shoplift and becoming a prostitute. The video was banned by some stations as a result of its content, although it was still nominated for a 1987 MTV Video Music award in the category of “Best Male Video”.

Bowie wrote the song out of concern for the treatment of the homeless in the US. The song’s R&B roots were reminiscent of some of Bowie’s R&B work in the 1970s with one author saying that the song is “an example of Bowie’s strength in the R&B genre.”

The single’s B-side, “Julie,” was described by one reviewer as the “catchiest” song of all the songs from Never Let Me Down, and lamented that the song was relegated to b-side status.

Days
Album: Reality
Released: 2003

Dead Man Walking
Album: Earthling
Released: 1997

“Dead Man Walking” is a song written by David Bowie and Reeves Gabrels and released as single from the 1997 album Earthling. It was a number 32 hit in the UK.

The guitar riff used in the intro dates back to the mid-1960s when Jimmy Page taught this to Bowie. Bowie later used it for his song “The Supermen” in 1970, and revived it 25 years later for “Dead Man Walking”.

Live versions
Bowie played an acoustic version of the song on the Late Night with Conan O’Brien show together with Reeves Gabrels. This was later released on the various artist album Live from 6A.
Another live version recorded at Fort Apache Studios, 8 April 1997, was broadcast at WBCN. The year after this version appeared on the album WBCN Naked Too.
Bowie played a different live acoustic version of “Dead Man Walking” at a concert at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, Georgia on 4 August 1997, which was hosted by Atlanta alternative rock radio station 99X. 99X later included it as a track on their 99X Live X IV “Home” CD.

Diamond Dogs
Album: Diamond Dogs
Released: 1974

This song introduces us to Bowie’s post-Ziggy Stardust persona, Halloween Jack: “The Halloween Jack is a real cool cat and he lives on top of Manhattan Chase.” It has also been suggested this song was influenced by Dhalgren, a science fiction novel by Samuel R. Delany.
The line, “Tod Browning’s freak you was” refers to the film Freaks, which was produced and directed by Tod Browning.
Coveted session musician, Herbie Flowers, played bass guitar on this track. Flowers is best known for co-founding the early ’70s group, Blue Mink, playing the bass line on Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side” and penning Clive Dunn’s 1970 UK novelty chart-topper “Grandad.” In 2008, Flowers spoke to Uncut magazine about his time spent working on the Diamond Dogs album: “We did Diamond Dogs very fast, doing basic tracks in three days in the little studio at Olympic. Bowie was writing a lot of the stuff as we were going. I think it was a semi-rescue attempt from his proposed George Orwell musical. The music was weird. I have to say I found it mildly unattractive at the time, but it was interesting stuff. Touring Diamond Dogs across America afterwards, it felt like those new songs were anarchic, all about tearing things down. It was prophetic in many ways. And the music was so loud and angry. Those shows were well organized. Strange things were going on, too. There was some in-fighting and maybe a lot of other things going on. But the band stuck together.”
The crowd noise at the beginning of the album was sampled from studio tapes of Rod Stewart’s early ’70s band, The Faces. The tapes were of their live album, Coast To Coast/Overture And Beginners and if you listen close enough, you may pick up Stewart shout “Oy-oy!” as the riff starts.
The album cover was a painting of Bowie as half man, half dog. His back half was the dog, and he was very clearly a male dog, which prompted RCA Records to airbrush the painting and make the dog gender neutral.

Dirty Boys
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

This bump ‘n’ grinder finds Bowie heading off to “Finchley Fair” in search of excitement. “When the sun goes down and the die is cast,” he croons, “and you have no chance. We will run with the dirty boys.” Producer Tony Visconti told NME: “That’s probably looking back at glam rock. Not him – the other dirty boys!”

The Finchley Fair is a large fun fair that has been held every year in Victoria Park, Finchley each July, dating back to 1905.
The song features Steve Elson’s sleazy baritone sax. Visconti told Rolling Stone: “It’s dark and it’s sexy. There’s a fantastic sax solo. You know, David plays baritone sax, but he invited his friend Steve Elson to do the baritone on this album. I think Steve was in the Saturday Night Live band. He’s a little guy, and he’s got a huge baritone sax, and he plays this dirty solo in it that sounds like stripper music from the 1950s. Old bump-and-grind stripper music . . . It wouldn’t be out of place on Young Americans.”

DJ
Album: Lodger
Released: 1979

A cynical comment on the cult of the DJ, the track is noted for Adrian Belew’s guitar solo, which was recorded in multiple takes, and then mixed back together for the album track. In a biography of Talking Heads, it is said this song was an attempt by Bowie to sing like David Byrne, who was befriending Brian Eno at the time. The single was an edited version, but was still possibly too uncommercial for substantial chart success – it peaked at No. 29 in the UK, and was not released in other markets. The single was issued on green vinyl in the UK and is now a very desirable collector’s item.

The song was performed live for the first time on Bowie’s Outside Tour in 1995.

Do Anything You Say
Album: David Bowie
Released: 1966

Released in 1966, despite featuring Bowie’s backing band at the time, The Buzz, the single was to be the first simply credited to David Bowie. It failed to chart.

Dodo
Album: Diamond Dogs (reissue)
Released: 1990

The Diamond Dogs album is based on the novel 1984 by George Orwell. This song didn’t make the cut, but was released in 1990 with the reissue of the album. The song is about a betrayal, similar to the theme of the novel. The Dodo is an extinct bird, and in this song the breed of human they claim to be is extinct, and they are now like everyone else, shown in the lyric, “brainwashing time.” Another reference to the novel and “Big Brother” is the line, “Can you wipe your nose, my child, without them slotting into your file a photograph?” >>
This was originally meant to form part of a medley with the song “1984.”

Dollar Days
Album: Blackstar
Released: 2016
David Bowie moved to the US in 1974 from England, initially staying in New York City before settling in Los Angeles. He returned to New York after the 1992 LA riots and has lived there ever since.

On this ballad, Bowie appears to be commenting on his self-imposed exile from Britain. “If I never see the English evergreens I’m running to,” he sings, “It’s nothing to me.” The London-born-and-raised star is dismissing any regrets about being away from his home country for so long.
Bowie wrote the song in the studio. “One day, David just picked up a guitar,” saxophonist Donny McCaslin recalled to Rolling Stone. “He had this little idea, and we just learned it right there in the studio. I didn’t even remember it until months later when someone told me it was on the album.”

Don’t Bring Me Down
Album: Pin Ups
Released: 1973

“Don’t Bring Me Down” is a song written by Johnny Dee (Pretty Things) and was covered in 1973 on the album Pinups

Don’t Sit Down
Album: David Bowie
Released: 1969

(Hidden track appended to “Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed”. On the 1972 Space Oddity reissue, this track was removed completely.)

The Dreamers
Album: Hours
Released: 1999

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Drive-In Saturday
Album: Aladdin Sane
Released: 1973

In this song, Bowie is imagining inhabitants in a post-apocalyptic future looking back at old video films that they have kept from the 1960s and ’70s. In 1972, Bowie introduced the song at The Public Hall in Cleveland, Ohio, with the following: “It’s about a future where people have forgotten how to make love, so they go back onto video-films that they have kept from this century. This is after a catastrophe of some kind, and some people are living on the streets and some people are living in domes, and they borrow from one another and try to learn how to pick up the pieces.”
This was originally written by Bowie for Mott The Hoople as their follow-up to “All The Young Dudes.” However after they rejected it, their professional relationship effectively ended and Bowie took it for himself. Bowie recalled on VH1’s Storytellers that he drunkenly shaved his eyebrows when Mott the Hoople turned this song down. (“that taught them a lesson”).
Bowie wrote this during his 1972 US tour. It was influenced by the barren landscape between Seattle and Phoenix, Arizona.
Bowie first performed this just hours after it was composed, in Phoenix, on November 4, 1972.

Fall Dog Bombs the Moon
Album: Reality
Released: 2003

According to Bowie himself at the time of the album release, “It came from reading an article about Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the company that Dick Cheney used to run. Basically, Kellogg Brown & Root got the job of cleaning up Iraq. What tends to happen is that a thing like an issue or a policy manifests itself as a guide. It becomes a character of some kind, like the one in Fall Dog. There’s this guy saying, ‘I’m goddamn rich’. You know, ‘Throw anything you like at me, baby, because I’m goddamn rich. It doesn’t bother me.’ It’s an ugly song sung by an ugly man. So it was definitely about corporate and military power.”

Biographer Nicholas Pegg wrote his own interpretation of the song: “The key on this occasion is the fearful predicament of global politics at the time of the Reality sessions. The album was recorded during the preamble to, and the prosecution of, the Iraq war, and it’s impossible to hear lyrics like ‘I don’t care much, I’ll win anyway…/I’m goddamn rich, an exploding man/When I talk in the night, there’s oil on my hands’ without pondering their most obvious resonance. It wouldn’t be particularly extravagant to surmise that the ‘Moon’ of the title suggests the Crescent Moon of Islam, thereby narrowing down the candidates for ‘Fall Dog’ fairly decisively.”

Pegg concludes writing that the song cocks a “contemptuous snook at the increasing predilection of political parties to find ‘someone to hate’ while jumping into bed with business corporations” and that dialogue with other Bowie’s songs like “Fantastic Voyage”, “Loving the Alien” and “I’m Afraid of Americans”.

“Fall Dog Bombs the Moon” is based on short melodic motives, the kind that seemed to permeate his previous album, Heathen.

A live performance of the song, recorded in November 2003 during the A Reality Tour, is included on the A Reality Tour album, released in 2010.

Fame
Album: Young Americans
Released: 1975

This song is about what it is like to be famous. Bowie gave his thoughts on the subject in a 2003 interview with Performing Songwriter magazine: “Fame itself, of course, doesn’t really afford you anything more than a good seat in a restaurant. That must be pretty well known by now. I’m just amazed how fame is being posited as the be all and end all, and how many of these young kids who are being foisted on the public have been talked into this idea that anything necessary to be famous is all right. It’s a sad state of affairs. However arrogant and ambitious I think we were in my generation, I think the idea was that if you do something really good, you’ll become famous. The emphasis on fame itself is something new. Now it’s, to be famous you should do what it takes, which is not the same thing at all. And it will leave many of them with this empty feeling. Then again, I don’t know if it will, because I think a lot of them are genuinely quite satisfied. I know a couple of personalities over in England who are famous for being famous, basically. They sort of initially came out of the pop world, but they’re quite happy being photographed going everywhere and showing their kids off and this is a career to them. A career of like being there and turning up and saying, ‘Yes it’s me, the famous girl or guy’ (laughs). It’s like, ‘What do you want?’ It’s so Warhol. It’s as vacuous as that. And that to me, is a big worry. I think it’s done dreadful things to the music industry. There’s such a lot of rubbish, drivel out there.”
John Lennon helped write this song – he came up with the title and also sang the background “Fame” parts in the high voice. They started working on the song when Bowie invited Lennon to the studio, and Lennon played rhythm guitar on a jam session that resulted in this track. Bowie met Lennon less than a year earlier at a party thrown by Elizabeth Taylor. Lennon was one of Bowie’s idols, and they became good friends.

Fantastic Voyage
Album: Lodger
Released: 1979

In this song, Bowie fears the end of the world is nigh, yet he still sings of his faith in humanity: “In the event that this fantastic voyage should turn to erosion and we never get old, remember it’s true, dignity is valuable, but our lives are valuable too.” It was written around the time there was a severe deterioration in relations between the West and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
David Bowie described this in the Mail on Sunday June 29, 2008 as “almost quaint, this one. It has a strong feel of the ’50s variety show to it.” Bowie added in the same interview that this song’s chord structure appeared on the Lodger album in two forms. “First, as it appears here and then further in as ‘Boys Keep Swinging.’ Both the tempo and top-line melody are rewritten.”

Fascination
Album: Young Americans
Released: 1975

“Fascination” was written by Bowie and American musician Luther Vandross for Bowie’s Young Americans album in 1975. The song originated from a Vandross song called “Funky Music” which The Mike Garson Band used to play before Bowie concerts in 1974.

An alternate mix appeared on the 1989 Sound + Vision box set, though this was replaced with the original on the 2003 reissue of the compilation.

While Bowie never performed this track live in concert, it was rehearsed for potential inclusion in Bowie’s set at the 1985 London Live Aid concert, though, along with “China Girl,” it was eventually dropped from his final set list.

Fashion
Album: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Released: 1980

David Bowie said that he considers this song to be a sequel to The Kinks’ 1966 send-up of the fashion scene, “Dedicated Follower Of Fashion.” Bowie blasts the shallow nature of the fashion industry, but at the same time, expresses a morbid curiosity in it all: “When I first started going to discos in New York in the early ’70s, there was a very high powered enthusiasm and the scene had a natural course about it. It seems now to be replaced by an insidious grim determination to be fashionable, as though it’s actually a vocation. There’s some kind of strange aura about it.”
This song draws an implicit analogy between fashion and fascism. Goon squads – referenced in the lyric, “We are the goon squad and we’re coming to town” – are groups of thugs who are hired to perform violent acts on their boss’ behalf. In the context of this song, it is most likely that Bowie is light-heartedly comparing goon squads to the New Romantics – a late ’70s subculture, who were known for their meticulously flamboyant fashion sense. Moreover, the lyric, “Turn to the left, turn to the right,” is not only referring to the mechanical movements of fashion models, but also to the military instruction. In 1974, Bowie caused controversy after he made some pro-Fascist comments, including calling Hitler “one of the first rock stars.” Bowie later blamed his wacky comments on the huge amount of drugs that he was consuming at the time.

Fill Your Heart
Album: Hunky Dory
Released: 1971

Five Years
Album: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
Released: 1972

This is the opening track to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. An announcement airs that the world will end in five years’ time because of a lack of natural resources. The song then proceeds to describe the frenzied aftermath of the announcement.
David Bowie chose five years as the length of time following a dream he had in 1971 in which his late father came to him and told him that he had only five years left to live and that he must never fly again.
This was recorded in November 1971 at London’s Trident Studios. Bowie performed it on the BBC show The Old Grey Whistle Test on February 8, 1972, five months before the album’s release.

Friday on My Mind
Album: Pin Ups
Released: 1973

Bowie recorded a version on his 1973 RCA covers album Pin Ups; for Harry Vanda, it was “the only cover I ever liked”

Future Legend
Album: Diamond Dogs
Released: 1974

Barely a minute in length, “Future Legend” begins with a distorted howl and features Bowie’s spoken-word vision of a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, now renamed Hunger City. He describes “fleas the size of rats” and “rats the size of cats”, and compares the humanoid inhabitants to “packs of dogs”.

Halfway through the narration, the Richard Rodgers’ tune “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” strikes up (the song and its composer appear on the track list of the original vinyl album but this credit is omitted on CD releases). “Future Legend” then morphs into the album’s title track, with the cry “This Ain’t Rock and Roll, This Is Genocide!”.

The narrative has been compared to the writings of William Burroughs, particularly such phrases as “a baying pack of people” in Naked Lunch.

The song influenced various company names such as Future Legend (UK based film, music and theatre company), Future Legend Records (UK indie record label), Future Legend (US based NY music store).

Get Real
Album: Outside
Released: 1995

Girl Loves Me
Album: Blackstar
Released: 2016

The words for this song are a combination of Nadsat, the teen language Anthony Burgess invented in 1962 for his dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange, and Polari, a form of British slang used by gay men in mid-20th-century London. Bowie’s producer Tony Visconti told Rolling Stone: “The lyrics are wacky, but a lot of British people, especially Londoners, will get every word.”

A Clockwork Orange was a big influence on Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust period. The clothes, hair, and makeup of his Ziggy persona was a cross between on the Malcom McDowell character in the movie version of A Clockwork Orange, and the William Burroughs novel Wild Boys. Also, he borrowed the word “droogie” (meaning friend) from the book for “Suffragette City>

Girls
Album: Never Let Me Down
Released: 1987

Girls” is a song by recording artist Tina Turner, from her 1986 album Break Every Rule. It was written by David Bowie and Erdal Kizilcay and produced by Terry Britten. Phil Collins plays drums on the recording. Upon its single released, it became a top 20 hit on the Dutch Singles Chart.

Bowie later recorded two different versions of the song himself during the Never Let Me Down sessions, one with vocals in English and another with vocals in Japanese. Both versions appeared as B-sides for different formats of the “Time Will Crawl” single in 1987.

God Bless The Girl
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

This energized track had the working title “Gospel” for a long time until it was finished towards the end of recording.

At one point this was included on The Next Day and moved up and down the tracklisting, then it was off the album, then back on. Ultimately it was designated to be a bonus track for the Japanese album release, as well as featuring on the expanded three-disc collector’s edition of the LP, The Next Day Extra.

God Knows I’m Good
Album: David Bowie
Released: 1969

This is a track from David Bowie’s 1969 eponymous album, which was released in the US as Man of Words/Man of Music. It was later rereleased by RCA asSpace Oddity but reverted to the original, eponymous, title for a 2009 reissue.

George Underwood designed the back cover art for the Space Oddity release as well as Bowie’s other early albums. The artist was a friend of the singer back in his childhood days in the South East England town of Bromley. He told Qmagazine April 2013 that Bowie based this observational tale, “on a story, not specifically about his mother, but a Bromley woman caught shoplifting.”

Golden Years
Album: Station To Station
Released: 1975

Bowie’s ex-wife Angela claims this was written for her. Bowie does appear to be addressing someone specific in this song, encouraging them to revel in their “golden years”: “Don’t let me hear you say life’s taking you nowhere, angel, come get up my baby, look at that sky, life’s begun, nights are warm and the days are young.”

Bowie wrote this with the intention of giving it to Elvis Presley, but he reportedly refused the song. Elvis died two years later.

Bowie performed this when he appeared on the TV show, Soul Train, in 1975. He was one of the first white singers to appear on the show. Bowie reportedly got drunk beforehand to try and calm his nerves and the footage does appear to show him stumbling over his lyrics.

Producer, Harry Maslin, said he achieved the “round” quality of the backing voices by using an old RCA microphone.

Station to Station saw Bowie adopt The Thin White Duke persona. Dressed in a white shirt, black trousers and waistcoat, The Thin White Duke was described by Bowie as “a nasty character indeed.” Throughout this period, Bowie was consuming a large amount of cocaine, which added to the alienated feel of the character.

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Hallo Spaceboy
Album: Outside
Released: 1995

“Hallo Spaceboy” is a song from his 1995 album Outside. The track was re-recorded the following year, and issued as a single, featuring Pet Shop Boys as guest vocalists. Bowie and Brian Eno co-wrote the original album version of the song.

Bowie wrote the song in mostly-improvised sessions with his band in 1995, and intentionally wrote it with a Nine Inch Nails-like vibe. Of the track, Bowie said “I adore that track. In my mind, it was like Jim Morrison meets industrial. When I heard it back, I thought, ‘Fuck me. It’s like metal Doors.’ It’s an extraordinary sound.”

Hang On to Yourself
Album: The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
Released: 1972

Third song on the second side of THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS (1972) and performed at all Ziggy Stardust concerts in 1972 and 1973. Typically used as the opening concert number (there were exceptions however, i.e. Bowie opened the Rainbow Theatre concert on the 19th and 20th August, 1972 with “Lady Stardust” and “Watch That Man” sometimes opened the concerts on the 3rd UK Tour). Later it was performed in the 1978 Stage Tour, and for the initial concerts in both the 1984 Serious Moonlight and 1990 Sound + Vision Tours.

Strap the guitar on, and thrash it to death, basically“. – Mick Ronson jokes after playing the “Hang On To Yourself” riff for BBC TV at Hammersmith Odeon in 1991

“Hang On To Yourself” was originally recorded in 1971 with the Arnold Corns project (the early release has different lyrics and arrangement – see Hang Onto Yourself – Arnold Corns version) and then re-recorded in November 1971 at London’s Trident Studios for THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS (1972). A rumour has it that it was originally written for Gene Vincent to use and an early 1971 version which is claimed to be both Bowie & Vincent performing together circulates on bootlegs, but really there is no indication that Vincent is on the track and Bowie himself has dismissed this claim.

“I never recorded with Gene Vincent, although I would have loved to”. – David Bowie (2000).

Special recordings of this song were broadcast on the Sounds of the Seventies (Broadcast: 28 January 1972) and Sounds of the Seventies (Broadcast: 7 February 1972) and on Top Gear (Broadcast: 23 May 1972).

The Hearts Filthy Lesson
Album: Outside
Released: 1995

It showcased Bowie’s new, industrial-influenced sound. Lyrically, the single connects with the rest of the album, with Bowie offering a lament to “tyrannical futurist” Ramona A. Stone, a theme continued in subsequent songs. The song is also meant to confront Bowie’s own perceptions about the ritual creation and degradation of art.

Critical reception to the song was generally tepid, though it would be re-evaluated by many critics when heard in the context of the album soon afterwards. In spite of its defiantly noncommercial sound the song reached No. 35 in the UK and No. 41 in Canada. The single also broke Bowie’s US chart drought (which stretched back to “Never Let Me Down” in 1987) by briefly peaking there at No. 92.

An immediate favourite at Bowie’s live concerts, “The Hearts Filthy Lesson” had its cult status sealed when featured over the closing titles of David Fincher’s 1995 film Se7en, a film which mirrored the video’s grimy visuals.

The single contained an “Alt. Mix” remixed by Trent Reznor and Dave Ogilvie with Chris Vrenna.

Heat
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

Bowie closes The Next Day with this haunting ballad concerning someone searching for their own identity in a prison setting. Producer Tony Visconti admitted to Rolling Stone “I’m not quite sure what he’s singing about on it, but it’s a classic Bowie ballad. He’s singing in his handsomest voice, a very deep, very sonorous voice. And I can’t give too much away about it because honestly, I don’t know exactly what it’s about, if it’s about being in a real prison or being imprisoned in your mind. Again, it’s certainly not about him; he’s singing as the voice of somebody.”

Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima is name checked in the song. Bowie’s Berlin apartment was decorated with a painted portrait of the avant-garde writer, who is remembered for his ritual suicide after a failed coup d’état.

Heathen (The Rays)
Album: Heathen
Released: 2002

The title track to Heathen is an incredibly dark song that wraps up an incredibly dark album. “It’s about knowing you’re dying,” Bowie said. “It’s a man confronting the realization that life is a finite thing, and that he can already feel it, life itself, actually going from him, ebbing out of him, the weakening of age.” Bowie was a perfectly healthy 55 years old when the song came out, but in just a couple years he’d be fighting for his life after a horrible heart attack.

Here Today and Gone Tomorrow
Album: David Live
Released: 1974

David Bowie performed this track live on his Diamond Dogs tour in 1974 (as “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow”). The version recorded on this tour was released as a bonus track on the 1990 Rykodisc reissue of the live album David Live. The 2005 Virgin Records/EMI reissue of the album put the song back into the correct position in the set-list in track listing order.

Heroes
Album: Heroes
Released: 1977

This song tells the story of a German couple who are so determined to be together that they meet every day under a gun turret on The Berlin Wall. Bowie, who was living in Berlin at the time, was inspired by an affair between his producer Tony Visconti and backup singer Antonia Maass, who would kiss “by the wall” in front of Bowie as he looked out of the Hansa Studio window. Bowie didn’t mention Visconti’s role in inspiring this song until 2003, when he told Performing Songwriter magazine: “I’m allowed to talk about it now. I wasn’t at the time. I always said it was a couple of lovers by the Berlin Wall that prompted the idea. Actually, it was Tony Visconti and his girlfriend. Tony was married at the time. And I could never say who it was (laughs). But I can now say that the lovers were Tony and a German girl that he’d met whilst we were in Berlin. I did ask his permission if I could say that. I think possibly the marriage was in the last few months, and it was very touching because I could see that Tony was very much in love with this girl, and it was that relationship which sort of motivated the song.”

Holy Holy
Album: The Man Who Sold the World
Released: 1970

“Holy Holy” is a song by David Bowie, originally released as a single in January 1971. It was recorded in November 1970, after the completion of The Man Who Sold the World, in the perceived absence of a clear single from that album. Like Bowie’s two previous singles, it sold poorly and failed to chart.

At the time Marc Bolan’s Tyrannosaurus Rex was a significant source of inspiration for Bowie. On this track, according to NME editors Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray, “Bolan’s influence is so much in the ascendant that it virtually amounts to a case of demonic possession”. The single’s B-side was another Tyrannosaurus Rex flavoured song called “Black Country Rock”. Bowie performed “Holy Holy” on Britain’s Granada Television wearing a dress, which he would also wear on the cover of the soon-to-be-released UK edition of The Man Who Sold the World.

A more energetic version of the song was recorded in 1971 for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. It was dropped from the album, but subsequently appeared as the B-side to “Diamond Dogs” in 1974. This version was also released as a bonus track on the Rykodisc reissue of The Man Who Sold the World in 1990 (despite the sleeve notes referring to it as the original cut), as well as on the Ziggy Stardust – 30th Anniversary Reissue bonus disc in 2002. Bowie himself vetoed the inclusion of the original at a late stage (in favor of the remake), and the single remained the only official release of the 1970 recording until 2015, when it was included on Re:Call 1, part of the Five Years (1969–1973) compilation.

How Does The Grass Grow
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

The song title is part of a mantra used to assist in bayonet practice – “How does the grass grow? Blood, blood, blood!” Producer Tony Visconti explained to Rolling Stone: “It’s about the way that soldiers are trained to kill other soldiers, how they have to do it so heartlessly. ‘How Does the Grass Grow’ is part of a chant that they’re taught as they plunge their bayonets into a dummy.”

The references to girls wearing “nylon skirts and sandals from Hungary” and boys riding their Riga mopeds appears to place this song somewhere in the Eastern Bloc during the communist Soviet era.

Bowie revives one of his earliest musical loves when he samples the hook motif from The Shadows’ “Apache,” sung as a “yah-yah-yah-yah.”

 

 

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I Am with Name
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I Can’t Explain
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I Can’t Give Everything Away
Album: Blackstar
Released: 2016
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The Blackstar album ends with this epic track where the thin white semi-retiree grapples with his own mystery:

Saying no but meaning yes, that is all I ever meant, that’s the message that I sent

“I don’t know what the song is referring to,” co-producer Tony Visconti toldRolling Stone. “But what he gives away is what he writes about. I think a lot of writers feel like, ‘If you want to know about me, just study my lyrics.’ That’s why he doesn’t give interviews. He’s has revealed plenty in past interviews, but I think his life now is about his art. It’s totally about what he’s doing now.”

After six jazzy tracks, Bowie revisits the electric guitar on Lazarus‘ final song and adds a bit of nostalgia for Bowie fans. Visconti revealed to The Sun: “We actually discussed that we were going to get a little bit of a Mick Ronson (Bowie’s Spiders From Mars guitarist) sound on the end of that track and we did.”

“It’s the only time we alluded to the past on the whole album. It sounded a little bit Ziggy or Aladdin Sane.”

I Can’t Read
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I Dig Everything
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I’d Rather Be High
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013
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This slice of neo-psychedelia finds Bowie lamenting a shellshocked war veteran. Producer Tony Visconti explained to Rolling Stone: “‘I’d Rather Be High’ is about a soldier who’s come out of the war and he’s just burnt out, and rather than becoming a human being again, I think he laments, ‘I’d rather be high. I don’t want to know. I’m trying to erase these thoughts from my mind.”

The desert setting suggests contemporary conflict, as the poor beaten up combatant curses his situation. “I’d rather be flying,” sings Bowie, “I’d rather be dead, than out of my head and training these guns on those men in the sand.”

Bowie sings a new version of this song in an renaissance-inspired advert for French fashion house Louis Vuitton. The short film, which is titled L’Invitation Au Voyage, stars American fashion model Arizona Muse and is directed by Romain Gavras, the man behind the clips for M.I.A.’s “Born Free” and “Bad Girls” plus Kanye West and Jay-Z’s “No Church in The Wild.”

If You Can See Me
Album: The Next Day : Released : 2013
This one of several songs on The Next Day inspired by Bowie’s fascination with medieval history. The album’s producer Tony Visconti told Billboard magazine: “He’s been reading history books, and we were having great conversations in the studio about, well, British monarchy for a start and stories related to them. A couple of songs on this album are about historical subjects. Some of the lyrics are blood-curdling, they really are – very, very strong lyrics about old wars, things like that.”

According to Visconti, Bowie wrote many of the songs for The Next Day on keyboards, resulting in him tapping into his jazz roots. This track in particular with its experimental sounds and polyrhythms is particularly jazzy. Visconti told The Ottowa Citizen: “The song called If You Can See Me has very wide, beautiful, crunchy jazz chords, with time signatures that Dave Brubeck would be proud of.”

I Feel Free
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I Got You Babe
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I Have Not Been to Oxford Town
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I Keep Forgettin’
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I’ll Take You There
Album: The Next Day Extra
Released: 2013
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The song starts with the line, “Today, today is the first of May, everything around us, everything alive.” Producer Tony Visconti told NME: “It just so happens that David arrived on the morning of the first of May with his freshly written lyrics and sang the lead vocal. These things happen on a David Bowie record.”

I Pity the Fool
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I Pray, Olé
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I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship
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I Wish You Would
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I’m Afraid of Americans
Album: Earthlings
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Whenever one goes with the “old meets new” model of collaboration, the level of success can be a definite crapshoot. In this instance, it was the right one. Whatever your feelings are regarding Trent Reznor as a songwriter, one has to admire the skill of his industrial production. Certainly, the versatile Bowie fits into Reznor’s musical landscape like a snug glove.

I’m Deranged
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I’ve Been Waiting for You
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It Ain’t Easy
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It’s Gonna Be Me
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It’s No Game
Album: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
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This is a song written by David Bowie for the 1980 album Scary Monsters and Super Creeps, featuring lead guitar played by King Crimson’s Robert Fripp. The song is in two parts, opening and closing the album.

“It’s No Game (Part 1)” features a shouted Japanese female lyric, interspersed with Bowie singing the translation. The female Japanese singer is Michi Hirota, who was at the time a member of Japan’s Red Buddha Theatre, who were performing in London. Bowie desired a strident female vocalist: “I wanted to break down a particular type of sexist attitude about women. I thought the [idea of] the ‘Japanese girl’ typifies it, where everyone pictures them as a geisha girl, very sweet, demure and non-thinking, when in fact that’s the absolute opposite of what women are like. They think an awful lot, with quite as much strength as any man. I wanted to caricature that attitude by having a very forceful Japanese voice on it. So I had [Hirota] come out with a very samurai kind of thing.”

Back in 1974, Hirota was one of the Japanese geisha girls (the one on the right), on the cover of Sparks album, Kimono My House.

“It’s No Game (Part 2)” repeats the same tune as Part 1 and most of its lyrics, with some alterations. It was deliberately ‘softer’ in tone and features Bowie only, singing in English.

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Janine
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The Jean Genie
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Joe the Lion
Album: Heroes
Released: 1977
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This track is in part a tribute to American conceptual artist Chris Burden (April 11, 1946 – May 10, 2015), who once famously nailed himself to a Volkswagen Beetle. Bowie wrote the lyrics in Berlin’s Hansa Studio by the Wall while recording his “Heroes” album.

Joe the lion

Went to the bar

A couple of drinks on the house and he said
‘Tell you who you are if you nail me to my car’

Burden’s famous Trans-Fixed piece took place on April 23, 1974 at Speedway Avenue in Venice, California. For his work, the artist lay face up on a Volkswagen and had nails hammered into both of his hands.

Joe the lion
Made of iron

Burden lay on the Volkswagen, in the cruciform position. Bowie likens him here to a cross of iron.

John, I’m Only Dancing
Album: ChangesOneBowie
Released: 1972
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This song is about a homosexual relationship. After dancing with a girl, Bowie reassures his male partner that he’s “only dancing” with her and is not romantically involved. It has also been suggested this was Bowie’s response to a derogatory comment made by John Lennon about Bowie’s cross-dressing.

Several months prior to this song’s release, Bowie had claimed to be bisexual in an interview with the Melody Maker and this song’s gay connotations meant it was overlooked in America until its inclusion on the ChangesOneBowie in 1976.

This was the follow-up single to Bowie’s British breakthrough “Starman.” He’d previously charted with “Space Oddity” back in 1969, but had been unable to follow it up.

This song was originally slated to appear on the The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album but it was eventually released as a stand-alone single. There were two versions: one with and one without a saxophone solo.

The official video features dancers from Lindsay Kemp’s mime troupe (Kemp trained both Bowie and Kate Bush in dance). Top of the Pops banned the video as they considered it too provocative.

Bowie revisited this song in 1979, in a soul vein, as “John I’m Only Dancing (Again),” giving him another #12 UK hit

Jump They Say
Album: Black Tie White Noise
Released: 1993
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Bowie’s half-brother Terry Burns was institutionalized in a mental hospital when he attempted suicide by jumping out of a window. After this failed attempt, Bowie visited his half-brother in the institution, but a few years later in 1985 Terry succeeded in killing himself by escaping the grounds and getting hit by a train. This song deals with Bowie’s feelings about his brother and the factors that lead to insanity.
Bowie’s track, All The Madmen, is also about Terry Burns.
The song also features a large dose of self. Speaking in a 1993 interview, Bowie said it related in part to his artistic leaps that almost destroyed him, for which he was still looking for some sort of emotional support. “It’s also connected to my feeling that sometimes I’ve jumped metaphysically into the unknown and wondering whether I really believed there was something out there to support me,” he explained, “whether you wanna call it, a God or a life-force?”

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Killing A Little Time
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Knock on Wood
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Kooks
Album: Hunky Dory
Released: 1971
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On May 30, 1971, David Bowie’s wife Angie gave birth to a young baby boy, who they named Zowie. Bowie was listening to a Neil Young record at home when he heard the news he’d become a father. Zowie’s birth gave him the inspiration to write this song to his newborn son in the style of early 1970s Neil Young.
The English band Kooks took their name from this song. They said the song is something they can relate to as they are young and the song was a bit wacky. >>
Zowie reverted to his birth name, Duncan Jones, around the age of 18 and attended film school in his late twenties. He became a commercials director, directing French Connection’s infamous “Kung-fu lesbian advert” in 2006. In 2009 Jones’ first full-length movie, a sci-fi thriller called Moon, was released.

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Lady Grinning Soul
Album: Aladdin Sane
Released: 1973
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David Bowie (from the Mail on Sunday June 29, 2008): “Mike Garson’s piano opens with the most ridiculous and spot-on re-creation of a 19th Century music hall ‘exotic’ number. I can see now the ‘poses plastiques’ as if through a smoke-filled bar. Fans, castanets and lots of Spanish black lace and little else. Sexy, mmm? And for you, Madam?”
In the same Mail on Sunday interview, Bowie mentions that this “was written for a wonderful young girl whom I’ve not seen for more than 30 years. When I hear this song she’s still in her 20s, of course.” The “wonderful young girl” he refers to is most likely the American black soul singer Claudia Lennear for whom Mick Jagger also wrote “Brown Sugar.” A number of authorities have cited her as the inspiration for this song.

Lady Stardust
Album: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Released: 1972
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This song is about Bowie’s longtime friend Marc Bolan of the Glam Rock group T-Rex.
If you listen closely after the last verse of this song you hear Bowie say “Get some P_ssy now!”

The Last Thing You Should Do
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The Laughing Gnome
Album: Starting Point
Released: 1967

Every artist produces at least one work that must make him cringe in later life, and Bowie is no exception. Before “The Man Who Sold The World,” Life On Mars” and “All The Madmen,” there was “The Laughing Gnome.” This novelty single – which is about, you guessed it, a laughing gnome – was released April 14, 1967, the same day The Rolling Stones played the Warsaw Palace of Culture, a concert which ended in a riot as police using tear gas battled two thousand fans. One can only speculate as to what would have happened if Bowie had played instead.
Actually, “The Laughing Gnome” isn’t that bad, but decades on its awful puns will be wasted on most listeners, domestic and foreign alike. “Hev you gotta loight, boy?” is a reference to a contemporary song, and the Home Service – punned as “Gnome Service” – was the forerunner of modern BBC Radio.
A cynic might suggest that Bowie ripped off the idea from Al Stewart’s “The Elf,” which was released the previous year, but novelty songs were not new even in the ’60s, and the two tracks are poles apart. Bowie was obviously writing with an eye on the charts while Stewart’s song is about a different kind of magic. >>
In 1973, Deram, the record label Bowie recorded his debut album on in 1967, re-released “The Laughing Gnome” to cash in on the innovative rock musician’s success. To the amusement of the music press the re-issued song made #6 in the UK singles chart.
In 1990, Bowie announced the set list for his Sound+Vision Tour would be decided by telephone voting. The music magazine, NME, attempted to rig the voting so Bowie would have to perform “The Laughing Gnome,” but the voting system was later scrapped.

Law (Earthlings on Fire)
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Lazarus
Album: Blackstar
Released: 2015
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In his downtime from his recording sessions for Blackstar, David Bowie was working on his off-Broadway musical Lazarus, a sequel of sorts to his cult classic movie The Man Who Fell to Earth where he played the lead Thomas Jerome Newton.

The show opened in New York in December 2015 and this is the only song from the production that is also on the album.

Speaking to the New York Times, the musical’s director Ivo van Hove said: “Lazarus focuses on Newton as he remains on Earth, a man unable to die, his head soaked in cheap gin, and haunted by a past love.”
Lazarus is a character in the Gospel of John that was restored to life four days after his death by Jesus Christ. It is not clear why Bowie referenced the Biblical name in the song title (the word “Lazarus” doesn’t appear in the lyrics). Maybe it is a metaphor for the resurrection of the Thomas Jerome Newton character or possibly Bowie was reflecting on the revival of his own career with the release of 2013’s The Next Day after years of self-imposed silence.
New York sax player Donny McCaslin is key to the sound of Lazarus. He recalled to The Sun: “I was listening to the song that’s now called ‘Lazarus,’ which is probably the second or third one we recorded. I remember hearing that ‘the sax had a prominent role’, which is a line that David had written.”

“Hearing him sing it was emotional because I was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’ There he is and there I am.”
The song took on new meaning after Bowie passed away on January 10, 2016, two days after the Blackstar album was released. Bowie had cancer, and apparently knew that his life was coming to an end, indicating that in this song, he was coming to terms with his death. The opening line makes it clear what’s on his mind:

Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen

Bowie died peacefully, surrounded by family. Perhaps this is his message to loved ones:

This way or no way
You know, I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now ain’t that just like me

The day after Bowie’s death, his longtime producer Tony Visconti, who worked on the album, issued a statement that read: “He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life – a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift.”
The video for this song was posted on January 7, 2016 – the day before the album release and three days before Bowie’s death. It was directed by Johan Renck, who also did the video for the album’s title track.

In the “Lazarus” video, Bowie sings from a hospital bed, a wrap covering his eyes. He is also seen standing up, dressed in black, desperately singing his lines. The video ends with Bowie walking into a wardrobe and closing the door behind him. It would be Bowie’s final scene.
In the 24 hours following the announcement of David Bowie’s death, fans flocked to VEVO and streamed his music videos a total of 51 million times. This song’s clip was the most popular, managing to achieve 11.1 million views within the day.
The song debuted at #40 on the Hot 100 in the week following Bowie’s death. It was the late English star’s first top 40 Hot 100 hit since “Never Let Me Down,” which reached #28 in September 1987.
The drummer on the track was Mark Guiliana, who has also played with Meshell Ndegeocello and Matisyahu.

Guiliana recalled to Modern Drummer magazine: “I remember that we played a really nice first take—everyone played very musically, but politely. David said something like, ‘Great, but now let’s really do it.’ He was always pushing us. The version on the record is the next take, where we are all taking a few more chances. The intro didn’t exist on his demo, but after the first take we kept playing and Tim (Lefebvre, bass) started playing this beautiful line with the pick, which David liked and thought it would make for a nice into. He was very much in the moment crafting the music.”

Let’s Dance
Album: Let’s Dance
Released: 1983
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This song is about (rather unsurprisingly) dancing with a lover. It is the title track to Let’s Dance, which was produced by Nile Rodgers, who was responsible for the album’s funky sound. Rodgers founded the disco band, Chic, and produced hits for Diana Ross, including “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out.” He also produced Madonna’s 1985 album Like a Virgin.
Stevie Ray Vaughan played lead guitar on this song. Bowie was impressed when he saw Vaughan perform at the Montreaux Jazz festival a year earlier. When Vaughan received the call from Bowie to play on the record, he was (although not literally) in the middle of recording his own album, Texas Flood.

Let’s Spend the Night Together
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Letter to Hermione
Album: Space Oddity
Released: 1969
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This is Bowie’s love letter to an old girlfriend, Hermione Farthingale, who he met through his dance teacher, Lindsey Kemp. The couple lived together in London in 1968, though Farthingale would later dump Bowie for the dancer, Stephen Reinhardt.
The comedian, Ricky Gervais, told BBC Radio that this was his favorite Bowie song, and perhaps his favorite song of all time.

Life on Mars?
Album: Hunky Dory
Released: 1971
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The lyricism is very abstract, though the basis of this song is about a girl who goes to watch a movie after an argument with her parents. The film ends with the line “Is there life on Mars?”

Bowie has labeled the song “a sensitive young girl’s reaction to the media” and added, “I think she finds herself disappointed with reality… that although she’s living in the doldrums of reality, she’s being told that there’s a far greater life somewhere, and she’s bitterly disappointed that she doesn’t have access to it.”

The lyrics also contain imagery suggesting the futility of man’s existence, a topic Bowie used frequently on his early albums.
Bowie came up with this after he was asked to put English lyrics to a French song called “Comme d’habitude.” Paul Anka ultimately bought the rights to the original French song and rewrote it in English as “My Way,” later made famous by Frank Sinatra. “Life On Mars?” uses practically the same chords as “My Way” and the Hunky Dory linear notes state that the song is “inspired by Frankie.”

In 2008, Bowie recalled writing this song to the Mail on Sunday: “This song was so easy. Being young was easy. A really beautiful day in the park, sitting on the steps of the bandstand. ‘Sailors bap-bap-bap-bap-baaa-bap.’ An anomic (not a ‘gnomic’) heroine. Middle-class ecstasy. I took a walk to Beckenham High Street to catch a bus to Lewisham to buy shoes and shirts but couldn’t get the riff out of my head. Jumped off two stops into the ride and more or less loped back to the house up on Southend Road. Workspace was a big empty room with a chaise lounge; a bargain-price art nouveau screen (‘William Morris,’ so I told anyone who asked); a huge overflowing freestanding ashtray and a grand piano. Little else. I started working it out on the piano and had the whole lyric and melody finished by late afternoon. Nice. Rick Wakeman [of prog band, Yes] came over a couple of weeks later and embellished the piano part and guitarist Mick Ronson created one of his first and best string parts for this song which now has become something of a fixture in my live shows.”

The band Bush used the line, “Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow” as a tribute to Bowie in their song “Everything Zen.”

This was released as a single in 1973, two years after it appeared on Hunky Dory.

The song was recorded in Portuguese by Seu Jorge for the soundtrack of the 2004 film The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Anni-Frid Lyngstad, formerly of ABBA, recorded a Swedish version titled “Liv pa Mars?”

If you listen closely to the end of the original recording of this song, you can hear a telephone ringing. >>

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain often performs this song at live shows. They claim it is a “song about plagiarism” and that it “wasn’t our idea.” The first verse is played straight as Jonty Bankes sings. As Bankes sings the second verse, George Hinchcliffe sings “My Way” until the bridge (“But the film is a sadd’ning bore”) when Peter Brooke-Turner sings lines from “For Once in My Life.” Then through the chorus Hester Goodman sings from “Born Free” while Dave Suich sings The Who’s “Substitute.”

Mick Rock directed the song’s official video. It was filmed backstage at Earls Court in London in 1973. It features Bowie in a turquoise suit and makeup, performing the song against a white backdrop.

The BBC television series, Life On Mars, was named after this, while its sequel, Ashes to Ashes, was also named after the Bowie song of the same name.

Lightning Frightening
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Like A Rocket man
Album: The Next Day Extra
Released: 2013
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This song finds Bowie being as direct as he has ever been with his drug references: “I’m speeding through the dancehall like a Rocket Man.” Producer Tony Visconti commented to NME that the song “has a deceptively bouncy beat, but lyrically it goes to more dark places – and this time David sings it with a cheeky smile.”

The Little Drummer Boy
Little Wonder
Album: Earthling
Released: 1997
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The lyrics to this song are mainly nonsense. However, Bowie wanted to write a song that used the names of all seven dwarves from Snow White. When he ran out of dwarves, he made some up. >>
This song and much of the Earthling album saw Bowie experiment with elements of jungle, industrial and drum and bass music. Two years before the album was released, Bowie co-headlined “The Outside Tour” with the industrial band, Nine Inch Nails. Exposure to their music undoubtedly influenced Bowie when writing Earthling.
The official video for “Little Wonder” is very surreal, featuring Bowie and another actor in a variety of nightmarish situations, including meeting an alien-like figure on the train and unearthing an eyeball in a cup of tea in a cafe.
This song was a #1 hit in Japan.

Liza Jane
Album: Nothing Has Changed
Released: 1964
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David Bowie’s first ever release, he recorded it at the age of 17 under the name of Davie Jones with The King-Bees. Recorded for Vocalion Pop, the song was promoted strongly but failed to chart and the band were subsequently dropped from the label.
The song was an arrangement of the old standard “Li’l Liza Jane,” first recorded by Earl Fuller as an instrumental in 1917. A year later, Harry C. Brown did a separate version with added vocals. The King Bees came up with a 6-bar blues interpretation and their manager Leslie Conn, made a few changes and credited it to himself.
The B-side was a cover of “Louie, Louie Go Home,” a 1963 single by Paul Revere and the Raiders.
David Jones changed his name to David Bowie in 1966 to avoid confusion with Monkee Davy Jones.
The single was re-released by Vocalion’s parent company, Decca, in the UK in November 1978 in an attempt to capitalize on Bowie’s fame, but again it failed to chart.
Bowie recorded the song again, in 2000, for the album Toy, which was never officially released. It eventually leaked on the Internet eleven years later.
“Liza Jane” was included on Bowie’s 2014 compilation album Nothing Has Changed.

The London Boys
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The Loneliest Guy
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Look Back in Anger
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Looking for Lester
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Looking for Satellites
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Looking for Water
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Love Is Lost
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013
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This coming-of-age song finds Bowie reflecting on loss of innocence and the arrival of adult responsibilities. “Wave goodbye to Life without pain” he croons over a monochromatic Berlin-era groove. Producer Tony Visconti told NME: “We used some techniques we used on (1977’s) Low on this, so sound wise you might hear something familiar.”
Former LCD Soundsystem leader James Murphy has been listening to Bowie’s music since he was a child, and he finally got an opportunity to collaborate with his hero when he was asked to remix this song for the Thin White Duke’s The Next Day Extra album. The end result, “Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy for the DFA)” is a complete transformation in which Murphy wipes out the original’s juddering synths, and instead creates a slow-burn, slow-build odyssey that runs for ten minutes.

Murphy’s mix starts with a round of applause which, after 15 seconds, becomes a syncopated clapping rhythm. It’s a nod to Steve Reich’s 1972 piece, “Clapping Music,” that is also referenced in the title. The American avant-garde composer’s work consists entirely of two performers clapping.

Whilst premiering the remix via BBC 6music, Murphy said: “Any remix I’ve done I almost never use any of the original music. The challenge for me is to create a new track that serves the vocal in a different way but doesn’t make the vocal seem pasted on. It’s been many years since I’ve done a remix, so no matter who it was for I would’ve been stressed out.”

Murphy directs his hero worship back to Bowie, by dropping in samples of his 1980 classic, “Ashes To Ashes.” He told NME: “The reference to ‘Ashes To Ashes’ was my idea. I’m only realizing now that his record is so self-reverential. I didn’t think of that in the grand scheme. I was just worried he’d get angry.”

Murphy also collaborated with Bowie around the same time when the British legend supplied backing vocals to the Arcade Fire track “Reflektor,” which the LCD Soundsystem mainman produced.

Love You till Tuesday
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Loving the Alien
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Magic Dance
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The Man Who Sold The World
Album: The Man Who Sold The World
Released: 1970

This song is about a man who no longer recognizes himself and feels awful about it. For years, Bowie struggled with his identity and expressed himself through his songs, often creating characters to perform them. On the album cover, Bowie is wearing a dress.
Some of the lyrics are based on a poem by Hugh Mearns called The Psychoed:

As I was going up the stair
I met a man who was not there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish that man would go away
Some lyrical analysis: “We passed upon the stair” is a figurative representation of a crossroads in Bowie’s life, where Ziggy Stardust catches a glimpse of his former self, (being David Bowie) which he thought had died a long time ago. Then he (the old David Bowie) says: “Oh no, not me. I never lost control.” This indicates that Bowie never really lost sight of who he was, but he Sold The World (made them believe) that he had become Ziggy, and he thought it was funny (I laughed and shook his hand). He goes on to state, “For years and years I roamed,” which could refer to touring. “Gaze a gazely stare at all the millions here” are the fans at concerts. >>
The album is one of Bowie’s least known, but over the years many fans have come to appreciate it and a lot of bands have covered songs from it.

Critics weren’t always sure what to make of it either, but John Mendelssohn had a good handle on it when he wrote of the album in Rolling Stone magazine, 1971: “Bowie’s music offers an experience that is as intriguing as it is chilling, but only to the listener sufficiently together to withstand the schizophrenia.”
British singer Lulu (“To Sir With Love”) recorded this in 1974. Bowie produced her version and played saxophone on the track. It went to #4 in the UK. Lulu recalled to Uncut magazine June 2008 about her recording of this: “I first met Bowie on tour in the early ’70s when he invited me to his concert. And back at the hotel, he said to me, in very heated language, ‘I want to make an MF of a record with you. You’re a great singer.’ I didn’t think it would happen, but he followed up two days later. He was uber cool at the time and I just wanted to be led by him. I didn’t think ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ was the greatest song for my voice, but it was such a strong song in itself. In the studio, Bowie kept telling me to smoke more cigarettes, to give my voice a certain quality. We were like the odd couple. Were we ever an item? I’d rather not answer that one, thanks!
For the video, people thought he came up with the androgynous look, but that was all mine. It was very Berlin cabaret. We did other songs, too, like ‘Watch That Man,’ ‘Can You Hear Me?’ and ‘Dodo.’ ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ saved me from a certain niche in my career. If we’d have carried on, it would have been very interesting.”

Memory of a Free Festival
Album: David Bowie
Released: 1969
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On August 16, 1969, a young psychedelic rock musician named David Bowie took the stage at the Free Festival, held at Croydon Road Recreational Ground in Beckenham, England. Bowie had helped organize the festival in his hometown, in hopes of raising funds for the Beckenham Arts Lab. Attendees of the festival recall a well-attended and peaceful event, with vendors peddling typical festival fare, Bowie’s then-girlfriend cooking burgers in a wheelbarrow, and a variety of musical offerings, including a reggae version of Bowie’s then-unreleased “Space Oddity,” filling the air.

David Bowie immortalized the event in his song “Memory of a Free Festival,” a light, trippy tune that waxes nostalgic about rainbows, clouds, and soft green grass.
“Oh, to capture just one drop of all the ecstasy that swept that afternoon; To paint that love upon a white balloon, and fly it from the topest top of all the tops,” sings Bowie, but the song may have been a romanticized version of how he really felt that day. Just days before, Bowie had experienced the death of his father, and his mood, quite understandably, was reportedly anything but ecstatic during the festival. Listening to the song you can imagine the song following the timeline of his life up to that point: his voice at first is almost childlike, a quality enhanced by the fact that the only musical accompaniment is a child’s organ. As the song nears the end, we hear a progression toward Bowie’s trademark sound, the powerful vocals and near-chaotic yet carefully controlled arrangement, before taking a tired, somber turn at the finish, as if he’s mourning something lost.
“Memory of a Free Festival” was released as a single in 1970, but sold only a few hundred copies in both the US and the UK. It remains a fan favorite, however, and has been covered by several artists in later years, including Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and the Gene Ween Band, who often play it during their live shows.
In 2014, a fundraiser was held to restore the dilapidated bandstand on which Bowie played at the Free Festival in 1969. Although he was unable to attend the event, aptly named The Memory of a Free Festival, Bowie donated several signed albums to be raffled off, with the proceeds going toward the renovation of the now-infamous bandstand.

Miracle Goodnight
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Modern Love
Album: Let’s Dance
Released: 1983
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This is about the struggle to find solace in love and religion. It has also been suggested this song contemplates the old adage “The more things change the more they stay the same.” Explaining how he remained a force in pop music for so many years, Bowie sings, “It’s not really work it’s just a power to charm.” >>
Bowie said this song’s call-and-response vocal arrangement “all comes from Little Richard.” A defining moment in Bowie’s childhood was when his dad came home with a copy of “Tutti Frutti.”
This sounds very similar to Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing.” They were both recorded around the same time and Bowie nor John were aware of each other’s song.
In 1987, Bowie re-recorded this with Tina Turner for a Pepsi commercial.
Stevie Ray Vaughan played guitar on this track. Bowie asked him to play on the Let’s Dance album after seeing him perform at a music festival.

Moonage Daydream
Album: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Released: 1972
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Bowie wrote “Moonage Daydream” specifically for fashion designer Fred Burrett, who Bowie met in The Sombrero gay bar and decided to groom for stardom. Burrett, who changed him name to Freddie Burretti, is credited as a vocalist on the song, but whatever contributions he might have made never actually made it onto the track.
This was originally the first single released by David Bowie’s side-project Arnold Corns in 1971. It flopped but was subsequently dusted down to be the song that heralds the arrival of Ziggy Stardust on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
The B-side of the 1971 single “Hang on to Yourself” also later appeared on the Ziggy Stardust album.
In 2002 Bowie wrote a book Moonage Daydream: The Life and Times of Ziggy Stardust, which documented his Ziggy Stardust era in 1972-73.
In a 2003 interview with Performing Songwriter magazine, Bowie explained how the song “Sure Know a Lot About Love” by The Hollywood Argyles influenced this song. Said Bowie: “It was a combination of the baritone sax and the piccolo on the solo which I thought, ‘Now there’s a great thing to put in a rock song’ (laughs). Which I nicked, then put in ‘Moonage Daydream’ later.”
Mick Ronson’s guitar work was vital to the sound of the Ziggy Stardust album, including this song’s otherworldly sustain-drenched solo. Bowie summed up Ronson’s contributions in David Buckley’s essay in the booklet accompanying the 30th Anniversary 2-CD edition of the album: “A perfect foil and collaborator, Mick’s raw, passionate Jeff Beck-style guitar was perfect for Ziggy and the Spiders. It had such integrity. You believed every note had been wrenched from his soul.”

Bowie continued: “I would also literally draw out on paper with a crayon or felt tip pen the shape of a solo. The one in ‘Moonage Daydream,’ for instance, started as a flat line that became a fat megaphone type shape, and ended as sprays of disassociated and broken lines. I’d read somewhere that Frank Zappa used a series of drawn symbols to explain to his musicians how he wanted the shape of a composition to sound. Mick could take something like that and actually bloody play it, bring it to life.”

Moss Garden
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The Motel
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Mother Grey
Album: not on an album
Released: 1967
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A small front page story in the May 19, 1973 issue of Music Week revealed Essex sues David Bowie.

Essex Music had issued a High Court writ claiming a 1967 agreement assigned them three songs including “Mother Grey”.

Move On
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Nature Boy
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Neuköln
Album: Heroes
Released: 1977
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Co-written with Brian Eno, this is the last of three consecutive instrumentals on Heroes, following “Sense of Doubt” and “Moss Garden.”
The song was named after the mainly Turkish Neukolln district of Berlin (correctly spelled with a double “L”). Bowie lived in Berlin between 1976-78, although not in Neukölln but in Schöneberg.

Never Let Me Down
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New Angels of Promise
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A New Career in a New Town
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New Killer Star
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The Next Day
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

This is the title track of the twenty-fourth studio album by English musician David Bowie, which was recorded in secret with producer Tony Visconti over a two-year period. Visconti told The Ottawa Citizen that during breaks from the studio, he would walk the streets of New York listening to music from The Next Day. “I was walking around New York with my headphones on,” he recalled, “looking at all the people with Bowie T-shirts on – they are ubiquitous here – thinking, ‘Boy, if you only knew what I’m listening to at the moment.'”

Long-term Bowie Collaborator Tony Visconti has known the British musician since 1967 and has worked on numerous classics with him including his Berlin trilogy.
According to Visconti, Bowie was reading historical books during the recording of The Next Day and this is one of a couple of tracks that were inspired by medieval events. The producer told NME that this song is, “about the taking down of some kind of historical tyrant, someone in antiquity that I think was killed by a mob. It’s quite graphic what they do in the lyrics.”
Visconti told Billboard magazine: “The title track is one of the gorier songs. It’s kind of like a Hammer Horror film lyric to it, pretty gory. But I think David’s very multi-level; ‘The Next Day’ could also mean this is the new day or this is a new album, this is a new me. But I’m speculating.”
The Next Day was Bowie’s ninth #1 on the UK album chart, and his first chart-topper since Black Tie White Noise in 1993.

Nite Flights
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No One Calls
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No Plan
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An Occasional Dream
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Oh! You Pretty Things
Album: Hunky Dory
Released: 1971
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According to the book Bowie: An illustrated Record by Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray, this song heralds “the impending obsolescence of the human race in favor of an alliance between arriving aliens and the youth of the present society.” All Music Guide on the other hand regards this as more of a Nietzschean lyric “invoking concepts of the ‘homo superior.'”

Uncut magazine June 2008 thought it might be interesting to get Phil May from the 1960s British band The Pretty Things to give his opinion. He told them: “I’ve always interpreted this song as a fantasy of outsiders taking over. In terms of using our name, I think we were a beacon to him. I’ve never had a conversation with him about it, but there was ‘Pretty Things Are Going to Hell’ (from 1999s hours… too. I think the phrase is a euphemism for how he saw our band when he was starting up-somebody shining a light on his situation, when for the rest of his life, he was on his own.”
Keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who later became a member of Yes, supplied the opening piano line.
Peter Noone covered this six months prior to the release of the Hunky Dory album. Bowie played the piano on the former Herman Hermits vocalist’s version, which peaked at #12 in the UK. When the former Herman’s Hermits frontman’s recording couldn’t match the feel of Bowie’s demo, they asked Bowie to show them how its done. “He could only play the song in F#, which became the new key, Noone recalled to Mojo magazine Aug 2011. “Suddenly with him playing the piano the song came alive. We cut it sort of half-live, I kept the original scratch vocal and they just doubled the high notes. It was mixed in 30 minutes.”

It was Bowie, said Noone, who suggested he change the line “the earth is a bitch” to “the earth is a beast” to ensure the single didn’t miss out on radio airplay.
David Bowie expert Nicholas Pegg told Q magazine this song began life with the title of “I’d Like a Big Girl With a Couple Of Melons.”
Peter Noone performed his version on the British TV series Top Of The Pops in 1971. Bowie joined him on piano, making his second appearance on the show.

Outside
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Pablo Picasso
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Pallas Athena
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Panic in Detroit
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Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy
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The Prettiest Star
Album: Aladdin Sane
Released: 1970

Bowie wrote this for his future wife, Angela ‘Angie’ Barnett. Bowie reportedly played it to Barnett over the phone when he proposed to her. Writing in The Mail On Sunday February 9, 2013, Angie recalled: “David wrote many of the songs for Aladdin Sane on his 1972 tour of America but ‘The Prettiest Star’ dates back to Christmas 1969. I was staying with my parents in Cyprus when he phoned and sang it down the phone to me. Two days later, I was back in London and our first stop was the recording studio, where Marc Bolan was adding the guitar solo. I was crazy about Aladdin Sane, loved the songs, especially ‘The Prettiest Star.’ That was the most personal. He wrote it for me.”
This was released as a single in 1970, but it flopped, shifting just 800 copies. In 1973, a glammed up version was recorded and released on Aladdin Sane, with Mick Ronson recreating Bolan’s original guitar part.
Marc Bolan of T. Rex played guitar on this track.

The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell
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Queen Bitch
Album: Hunky Dory
Released: 1971
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This is Bowie’s tribute to the Velvet Underground, and the song purposefully imitates the New York band’s sound. Side two of Hunky Dory contains three tribute songs penned by Bowie for his idols: this, “Song For Bob Dylan” and “Andy Warhol.”
The guitar riff is lifted from Eddie Cochran’s “Three Steps To Heaven.”
Lou Reed performed this with Bowie at his 50th birthday party in New York in January 1997.

Quicksand
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Ragazzo solo, ragazza sola
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Real Cool World
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Never Gets Old
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Rebel Rebel
Album: Diamond Dogs
Released: 1974
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This song is about a boy who rebels against his parents by wearing makeup and tacky women’s clothes. It was a defining song of the “Glam Rock” era. Characterized by feminine clothes and outrageous stage shows, Glam was big in England in the early ’70s. Bowie had the most mainstream success of the glam rockers.
Three years before this was released, Bowie admitted he was bisexual. The announcement seemed to help his career, as he gained more fans and wrote more adventurous songs.
Bowie did an episode of VH1 Storytellers in 1999 where he introduced this song with this yarn:

I can tell you about the time that I first met Marc Bolan who became a very, very good friend of mine. We actually met very early on in the ’60s before either of us were even a tad pole known. We were nothing; we were just two nothing kids with huge ambitions, and we both had the same manager at the time. And we met each other firstly painting the wall of our then manager’s office.

“Hello, who are you?”

“I’m Marc, man.”

“Hello, what do you do?”

“I’m a singer.”

“Oh, yeah, so am I. Are you a Mod?”

“Yeah, I’m King Mod. Your shoes are crap.”

“Well, you’re short.”

So we became really close friends. Marc took me dustbin shopping. At that time Carnaby Street, the fashion district, was going through a period of incredible wealth and rather than replace buttons on their shirts or zippers on their trousers, at the end of the day they’d just throw it all away in the dustbin. So, we used to go up and down Carnaby Street, this is prior to Kings Road, and go through all the dustbins around nine/ten o’clock at night and get our wardrobes together. That’s how life was, you see.

I could also tell you that when we used to play the working men’s clubs up north – very rough district – and I first went out as Ziggy Stardust, I was in the dressing room in one club and I said to the manager: “Could you show me where the lavatory is, please?”

And he said: “Aye, look up that corridor and you see the sink attached to the wall at the end? There you go.”

So, I tottered briefly on my stack-heeled boots and said: “My dear man, I’m not pissing in a sink.”

“He said: “Look son, if it’s good enough for Shirley Bassey, it’s good enough for you.”

Them were the days, I guess.
In 1972, Bowie produced “Walk On The Wild Side” for Lou Reed, which is another song celebrating transgender individuals.
Bowie’s guitarist, Mick Ronson, quit in 1973 in order to pursue a solo career, so Bowie played guitar on this song. Bowie spoke to Performing Songwriter magazine about the legendary riff: “When I was high school, that was the riff by which all of us young guitarists would prove ourselves in the local music store. It’s a real air guitar thing, isn’t it? I can tell you a very funny story about that. One night, I was in London in a hotel trying to get some sleep. It was quite late, like eleven or twelve at night, and I had some big deal thing on the next day, a TV show or something, and I heard this riff being played really badly from upstairs. I thought, ‘Who the hell is doing this at this time of night?’ On an electric guitar, over and over [sings riff to ‘Rebel Rebel’ in a very hesitant, stop and start way]. So I went upstairs to show the person how to play the thing (laughs). So I bang on the door. The door opens, and I say, ‘Listen, if you’re going to play…’ and it was John McEnroe! I kid you not (laughs). It was McEnroe, who saw himself as some sort of rock guitar player at the time. That could only happen in a movie, couldn’t it? McEnroe trying to struggle his way through the ‘Rebel Rebel’ riff.”
An alternate version appears on Bowie’s compilation album Sound And Vision. On this version, Bowie plays all the instruments, bar the congas, which are played by Geoff MacCormack.
The Diamond Dogs tour was an enormous production. It featured moving bridges, catapults, and a huge diamond that Bowie emerged from.
The album cover was painted by Dutch artist Guy Peellaert. It shows Bowie as a dog in front of a banner that says “The Strangest Living Curiosities.” The cover caused some controversy because the Bowie dog had clearly not been neutered. An alternate cover was released with the appendages airbrushed out. Mick Jagger had shown Bowie artwork that Peellaert had done for the not yet released Rolling Stones album It’s Only Rock And Roll. Bowie quickly got a hold of Peelaert and had him design the cover for Diamond Dogs, which was unleashed to the public prior to the album by the The Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger was none too happy about this. David Bowie has this to say about the incident: “Mick was silly. I mean, he should never have shown me anything new. I went over to his house and he had all these Guy Peellaert pictures around and said, ‘What do you think of this guy?’ I told him I thought he was incredible. So I immediately phoned him up. Mick’s learned now, as I’ve said. He will never do that again. You’ve got to be a bastard in this business.”

Red Money
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Red Sails
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Repetition
Album: Lodger
Released: 1979
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David Bowie explained to the Mail on Sunday June 29, 2008) why he wrote this exploration of a wife-basher’s mentality: “I decided to write something on the deeply disturbing subject of wife abuse in the manner of a short-form drama. I had known more instances of this behavior than I would have preferred to have been made aware of and could not for the life of me imagine how someone could hit a woman, not only once but many, many times.”
In the same Mail on Sunday interview Bowie discussed the instrumentation and his vocal on this song: “By virtue of the instrument’s classical baggage, Simon House’s violin touches a vein of pure Goth on this recording. There’s a numbness to the whole rhythm section that I try to duplicate with a deadpan vocal, as though I’m reading a report rather than witnessing the event. I used to find this quite easy to accomplish.”
Simon House is an English violinist and keyboard player who is probably best known for his work with Hawkwind. He performed the violin solo in the space rock band’s hit single “Silver Machine.”

Right
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Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide
Album: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Released: 1972
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This is about the collapse of Bowie’s persona, Ziggy Stardust. This song closes The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and would also mark the climax of the Ziggy Stardust concerts between 1972-1973.
This dramatic and unusual song blends a variety of styles, which Bowie explained in his 2003 interview with Performing Songwriter: “What I enjoyed was being able to hybridize these different kinds of music somewhat. To go from a ’50s rock flavored thing with an Edith Piaf nuance on it produced that. There was a sense of French chanson in there. It wasn’t obviously a ’50s pastiche, even though it had that rhythm that said total ’50s. But it actually ends up as being a French chanson. That was purposeful. I wanted that blend, to see if that would be interesting. And it was interesting. Nobody was doing that, at least not in the same way. The same approach was being adopted by a certain number of artists from that era.”

Rock ‘n’ Roll with Me
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Rosalyn
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Rubber Band
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Running Gun Blues
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Safe
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Saviour Machine
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Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
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Scream Like a Baby
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The Secret Life of Arabia
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Sense of Doubt
Album: Heroes
Released: 1977
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Producer, Brian Eno, devised a set of “Oblique Strategies” cards that contained cryptic “instructions” to help with the recording of the Heroes album. Eno and Bowie would select a card at random, keeping it a secret from the other. Bowie selected “Emphasise differences” while Eno selected “Try to make everything as similar as possible” and it was this paradox which formed the basis for this dark but ambient instrumental piece. Eno said: “It was like a game. We took turns working on it; he’d do one overdub and I’d do the next, and he’d do the next…I was trying to smooth it out and make it into one continuum [while] he was trying to do the opposite.”

(You Will) Set the World On Fire
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This song about ambition and fame finds Bowie singing about Bob Dylan and his fellow Greenwich Villagers David Van Ronk and Phil Ochs, during the ’60s folk boom. The song is a tribute to the power and influence of the early ’60s folk scene in the English Rock icon’s adopted home city.
Bowie’s longtime guitar sidekick Earl Slick plays on this track. Slick recalled to Ultimate Classic Rock how his pal called him out of the blue in the summer of 2012 and “said, ‘I’m ready to go back in. What are you doing? Are you around? Are you touring?'” Once Slick said he was available they, “started banging dates around, and he was already recording – and I went in and did all my stuff in July.”

Bowie put a gagging order over the whole project and Slick told Ultimate Classic Rock how difficult it was trying to keep the Thin White Duke’s plans secret for months. “Do you have any idea how many interviews I’ve done since May, with this under my belt, which I couldn’t say anything about? It was horrible!” he said.

“I had the cover for the Christmas issue of Guitar Player magazine. That was the hardest one – it’s a double issue and it stays on the stands longer, and they did a 14-page spread on me, and I’m thinking, ‘Christ, I can’t even say anything.’ Anyway, he appreciated that – and I got a nice thank you for keeping my big mouth shut.”

Seven Years in Tibet
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Shadow Man
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Shapes of Things
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She Shook Me Cold
Album: The Man Who Sold The World
Released: 1970
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This song is suggestive of a sexual rendezvous and the lyrics are full of innuendo. According to Mojo magazine, Tony Visconti, who produced and played bass on this track, claimed the song was written by Mick Ronson, who played lead guitar. Visconti recalled that it was “completely a Ronson composition; Bowie didn’t add lyrics till much later.”
Angie Bowie, David’s wife at the time, adds in the magazine: “We were watching TV one night and Led Zeppelin were on. I looked at Mick and started to laugh and I went: ‘I bet the Rats from Hull (Mick’s former band) could do a better blues song than that.'” So they went down to the basement a couple of days later without David Bowie and came out with the music to “She Shook Me Cold” – a play on Led Zeppelin’s “You Shook Me.”

She’ll Drive the Big Car
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Silver Tree Top School for Boys
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Slip Away
Album: Heathen
Released: 2002
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David Bowie wrote this song in homage to New Jersey’s own “Uncle” Floyd Vivino, a vaudeville-styled comedian and pianist who for 20+ years hosted The Uncle Floyd Show, a kiddie-styled variety hour airing on local access cable in the New York tri-state area (and continues to perform live today). The show started in the 1970s as an actual kiddie show, but it turned out that most of the adult-slanted jokes were going right over the heads of the kids populating the in-studio “peanut gallery,” so Floyd reworked the show, eliminating the peanut gallery but retaining the menagerie of puppet cast members, which outnumbered the human cast by at least 3 to 1. Floyd himself is mentioned in the lyrics, as are Bones Boy and Oogie, both puppets on the show.
The cast first became aware of Bowie’s interest in the show when he attended a live appearance by The Uncle Floyd Show cast on January 29, 1981 at New York City’s legendary The Bottom Line nightclub. He informed Floyd that he always had the show on as he was getting ready to perform in a play he was doing on Broadway. He had been turned on to the show by another fellow musician who watched it, John Lennon.

Bowie called Floyd a few months before the album Heathen was released, and told him about the song. In the text below, courtesy of davidbowie.com, David talks about his new album and the show: “Both ‘Slip Away’ and ‘Afraid’ were recorded early last year and as I liked these 2 so much, I just moved ’em forward to this album. We completely re-recorded ‘Slip Away’, over one of Matt’s great loop parts. Back in the late ’70s, everyone that I knew would rush home at a certain point in the afternoon to catch the Uncle Floyd show. He was on UHF Channel 68 and the show looked like it was done out of his living room in New Jersey. All his pals were involved and it was a hoot. It had that Soupy Sales kind of appeal and though ostensibly aimed at kids, I knew so many people of my age who just wouldn’t miss it. We would be on the floor it was so funny. Two of the regulars on the show were Oogie and Bones Boy, ridiculous puppets made out of ping-pong balls or some such. They feature in the song. I just loved that show.”

Slow Burn
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A Small Plot of Land = Small Plot of Land (S)
Album: Outside
Released: in September of 1995

David Bowie’s Outside album would inspire a tour that would both confuse and confound his existing fan base at the time, yet has since been re-evaluated as one of his most daring moves

So SheAlbum: The Next Day Extra
Released: 2013

This is the closing bonus track on The Next Day Extra, an expanded three-disc collector’s edition of Bowie’s first studio album in 10 years, The Next Day. Producer Tony Visconti commented to NME: “I am far from the best interpreter of Bowie lyrics, but I’ll stick my neck out one more time. ‘So She’ is a wistfully sung love song. It kind of makes me feel romantically sad. Harmonically it is quite sophisticated for such a short piece.”

The Stars
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

The second single from The Next Day finds Bowie singing about the eternal status of celebrity, as he reflects, “The stars are never sleeping. Dead ones and the living.” Producer Tony Visconti noted to NME: “This one could be of (1972’s) Ziggy Stardust…It’s a big stadium rock song.”
Floria Sigismondi helmed the song’s music video. The Italian/Canadian photographer and director was also behind the clips for Bowie’s “Little Wonder” in 1996 and “Dead Man Walking” in 1997. The visual stars Bowie alongside British actress Tilda Swinton, whom you might recall from her role of Karen Crowder in Michael Clayton, which won her a Best-Supporting Actress Oscar. Bowie and Swinton portray a married couple who is harassed by their younger celebrity neighbours, (played by Saskia de Brauw and Andrej Pejíc).

Some Are
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Somebody Up There Likes Me
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Something in the Air
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Song for Bob Dylan
Album: Hunky Dory
Released: 1971
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This is an ode to the folk singer, Bob Dylan. It includes the lyric: “Now hear this Robert Zimmerman, though I don’t suppose we’ll meet.” Funnily enough, Bowie would go on to meet Dylan multiple times throughout the 70s and 80s, though Dylan was reportedly rude to Bowie and according to one biographer, Dylan told Bowie that he hated his Young Americans album!
Dylan wrote a tribute song himself once. His was dedicated to Woody Guthrie, and he sang it to Guthrie on his deathbed. Bowie’s song is slightly more uptempo than Dylan’s, and includes electric guitar played by Mick Ronson.
Bowie’s song is said to mimic Dylan’s ode; it has also been suggested that it is a commentary on Dylan’s album Self-Portrait; the line “You’re ever nation’s refugee” is clearly a reference to Dylan’s ethnic origin, ie the wandering Jew of Christian folklore, though Bowie was probably thinking more of the wandering minstrel. >>
Bowie wrote this in 1971. Running to 4 minutes 12 seconds, it appears on his Hunky Dory album, which was recorded at Trident Studios, London in April of that year. Like the rest of the album, this song was produced by Ken Scott.

Sons of the Silent Age
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Sorrow
Album: Pin Ups
Released: 1973
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“Sorrow” was originally performed by The McCoys in 1965. The McCoys released most of their works on the Bang Records label, founded by Atlantic Records alumni Ahmet Ertegün, Nesuhi Ertegün, and Jerry Wexler. Writing credits go to the writing team of Feldman-Goldstein-Gottehrer (FGG Productions), who also had a group called The Strangeloves.
The McCoys are better known for their #1 hit, “Hang On Sloopy.” “Sorrow” was released as the B-side of their follow-up single “Fever,” which went to #7. Future releases failed to crack the Top 10.
David Bowie’s cover is the most famous version of “Sorrow.” It comes from his cover project album, Pin Ups, released in 1973, which peaked at #1 and stayed in the UK album charts for 21 weeks. The album later re-entered the charts on two more occasions, for 15 weeks peaking at #57, and for one more week at #52. “Sorrow” itself was the only single from Pin Ups to chart, staying for 15 weeks on the UK singles chart, peaking at #3. The B-side was “Amsterdam,” a song originally by Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel.

Sorry
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Soul Love
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Sound and Vision
Album: Low
Released: 1977
david-bowie-play-logoThis song was Bowie’s initial response at retreating from America in an attempt to get away from his drug addiction. Bowie said this song was about “wanting to be put in a little cold room with omnipotent blue on the walls and blinds on the windows.”
Backing vocals on this track are provided by Mary Hopkin who was the wife of the producer Tony Visconti.
An unusual song to be released as a single, it was recorded at first as an instrumental with Mary Hopkin’s backing vocals before Bowie recorded his own vocals. He then trimmed some of them, leaving the opening instrumental section as longer than the main vocal part.
This was a hit in the UK despite Bowie doing nothing to promote the song himself. It reached the top end of the charts mainly as a result of the BBC using it as background music to its program announcements at the time.
RCA, David Bowie’s then record label, had little faith in Low, but it has been subsequently recognized as one of the most innovative, influential albums of the 1970s. The website Pitchfork voted it the best album of the ’70s. Bowie described the album as “A new way of looking at life.” >>
Whilst Bowie’s backing band worked at the instrumentation, the “Thin White Duke” sat in the control room listening. Guitarist Ricky Gardener recalled to Mojo magazine January 2012, then, “he just went into the studio and sang it straight off, words and all. He listened to the playback once, adjusted something in his head and did it again. And that was that.”

Space Oddity
Album: David Bowie
Released: 1969
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Bowie wrote this after seeing the 1968 Stanley Kubrick movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. “Space Oddity” is a play on the phrase “Space Odyssey,” and the title does not appear in the lyrics. The song tells the story of Major Tom, a fictional astronaut who cuts off communication with Earth and floats into space.
In a 2003 interview with Performing Songwriter magazine, Bowie explained: “In England, it was always presumed that it was written about the space landing, because it kind of came to prominence around the same time. But it actually wasn’t. 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. It was picked up by the British television, and used as the background music for the landing itself. I’m sure they really weren’t listening to the lyric at all (laughs). It wasn’t a pleasant thing to juxtapose against a moon landing. Of course, I was overjoyed that they did. Obviously, some BBC official said, ‘Oh, right then, that space song, Major Tom, blah blah blah, that’ll be great.’ ‘Um, but he gets stranded in space, sir.’ Nobody had the heart to tell the producer that.”
This was originally released in 1969 on Bowie’s self-titled album and timed to coincide with the moon landing. Released as a single, the song made #5 in the UK, becoming his first chart hit in that territory. In America, the single found a very small audience and bubbled under at #124 in August 1969.

In 1972, the album was re-titled Space Oddity and re-issued in the US after Bowie achieved modest success in America with the singles “Changes” (#66) and “The Jean Genie” (#71). The newly released “Space Oddity” single made #15, becoming Bowie’s first US Top 40.

In 1975, back in the UK, the song was once again released, this time on a single which also contained the songs “Changes” and “Velvet Goldmine.” Promoted as “3 Tracks for the Price of 2,” the single leapt to the top of the charts, earning Bowie his first #1 in the UK.
In 1980, Bowie released a follow-up to this called “Ashes To Ashes,” where Major Tom once again makes contact with Earth. He says he is happy in space, but Ground Control comes to the conclusion that he is a junkie.

Speed of Life
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Star
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Starman
Album: Ziggy Stardust
Released: 1992
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This forms part of the Ziggy Stardust story, in which the end of the world lingers just five years away. This song tells of a salvation waiting in the sky, as revealed through Starman’s messenger, Ziggy Stardust. The song is told from the perspective of a person listening to Ziggy on the radio. >>
Woody Woodmansey was the drummer in Bowie’s backing band, The Spiders From Mars. In 2008, he spoke to Uncut magazine about his impressions of this song: “I love ‘Starman’ as it’s the concept of hope that the song communicates. That ‘we’re not alone’ and ‘they’ contact the kids, not the adults, and kind of say ‘get on with it.’ ‘Let the children boogie’: music and rock ‘n’ roll! It lifted the attention away from the depressing affairs in the ’70s, made the future look better. ‘Starman’ was the first Bowie song since ‘Space Oddity’ with mass appeal. After ‘Starman,’ everything changed.”
In 1972, Bowie performed this song on the British TV show, Top of the Pops. Bowie appeared as the flame-haired Ziggy Stardust dressed in a multicolored jump suit. Bowie strummed a blue guitar while he moved flirtatiously alongside his guitarist, Mick Ronson. It was the first time many had seen Bowie and people were fascinated by his stage presence. This performance would catapult Bowie to stardom and prove wildly influential on the next generation of English rockers.

Among the many who have cited this specific appearance as a transformative moment is Lol Tolhurst of The Cure, who writes in his memoir, “I remember sitting on my couch at home with my mother, watching this spectacle unfold, and at the point where Bowie sang the line, ‘I had to phone someone so I picked on you,’ he pointed directly at the camera, and I knew he was singing that line to me and everyone like me. It was a call to arms that put me on the path that I would soon follow.”
Bowie was influenced by the song “Over The Rainbow,” which is most obvious during the chorus (“There’s a Starman…”). >>
This was the last song written for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, supposedly because nobody had heard a potential single on the album. It became Bowie’s first UK hit in three years. His only previous chart entry had been “Space Oddity” in 1969.

The Stars (Are Out Tonight)
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Station to Station
Album: Station To Station
Released: 1976
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This is the title track to David Bowie’s 10th studio album. It is notable as the vehicle for Bowie’s last great “character,” The Thin White Duke, a well-dressed, cocaine-addled tortured soul with an interest in the occult.

“Station to Station” in the only Bowie song that names the character (“The return of the Thin White Duke”) – he would abandon the persona after the album.
During the sessions for Station To Station, Bowie was heavily dependent on drugs, especially cocaine, and recalls almost nothing of the production. He once joked, “I know it was recorded in LA because I read it was.”
The only memory Bowie has of making the album is of ordering lead guitarist Earl Slick to play and repeat a Chuck Berry riff over the opening bars of this track. “I have only flashes of making it,” a saner Bowie said much later. “I have serious problems about that year or two. I can’t remember how I felt; I have no emotional geography.”
The song is in four movements and the lyrics reflect Bowie’s preoccupations with the influential occultist Aleister Crowley, Hermetic Qabalah and Gnosticism. The title is a reference to the Stations of the Cross, a series of 14 images depicting the crucifixion of Jesus.
The Station to Station era was a musically fertile time for Bowie, but he was battling demons in a rather literal sense, which is reflected in this song. The journalist Cameron Crowe claimed to have found evidence of black magic rituals when he interviewed Bowie, and Bowie says that when he was living in Berlin at this time, he saw objects move around rooms on their own.

This song has some overt references to mysticism (“Kether” and “Malkuth” are found on the Kabbalah Tree of Life), and many lines that can be interpreted that way. For example, “Here am I, flashing no color” could represent the flashing complimentary colors in the Tattva belief that lead to a higher level of consciousness. Since Bowie can’t recall writing the song, a variety of influences could be at play here. What force compelled the lyrics is the big mystery.
The Station To Station album was recorded after Bowie completed shooting Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell To Earth, and the cover features a still from the movie.
The line, “Making sure white stains” is a reference to Aleister Crowley’s first book, White Stains.
This is Bowie’s longest studio recording, clocking in at 10 minutes and 11 seconds. For a full minute, sampled locomotives clatter from speaker to speaker and the coke-deranged singer makes his entrance at 3:17.

Stay
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Strangers When We Meet
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Subterraneans
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Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)
Album: Nothing Has Changed – The Very Best Of Bowie
Released: 2014
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The lead single from David Bowie’s compilation album, Nothing Has Changed – The Very Best of Bowie, it was recorded especially for the retrospective with longtime collaborator Tony Visconti. The tune was laid down during the Summer of 2014 in New York with the Maria Schneider Orchestra.
The genesis of the song lay in a visit by Bowie and Tony Visconti to The Birdland jazz club in New York, when they went to see Maria Schneider and her 17-piece big band. “I was totally floored by the beauty and power of her music,” Visconti recalled to NME. “I learned she was a student of Gil Evans and worked as his score copyist. Gil Evans and Stan Kenton were jazz composers David and I were both very fond of, and so was Maria, apparently.”

Bowie decided that he would like to collaborate with Schneider. “Initially we worked from David’s demo of the untitled song,” Visconti told NME. “Over the course of three long sessions in a rehearsal studio, (Maria) and core members of the band jammed over the bassline for several hours. After this, Maria and David met to finalise the arrangement and structure, and Maria kept me in the picture by sending me musical scores of her updates – her writing was very meticulous.”

“When the day arrived to record the piece with the full 17-piece band,” he added, “David handed lyrics to Maria, myself and our engineer – and it was only then we learned it was called ‘Sue.'”
Bowie has rarely touched on jazz before. He once collaborated with jazz fusion band Pat Metheny Group for the 1985 cut “This Is Not America.” However, the song for The Falcon and the Snowman soundtrack was a mid-tempo ballad with few jazz elements. In addition, Jazz trumpeter Lester Bowie (no relation) contributed to four tracks from the 1993 Black Tie White Noise set.

The Thin White Duke has occasionally used jazz in an ornamental way, such as Mike Garson’s improvised piano solo on Aladdin Sane’s title track.
The song was re-recorded for Blackstar at The Magic Shop in New York City with a group of New York jazz musicians. “It wasn’t actually spoken out loud, but we were going to make a David Bowie album with jazz musicians, but they weren’t necessarily going to play jazz,” co-producer Tony Visconti told NPR. “If we used rock musicians trying to play jazz, it would have been a very different album.”

Suffragette City
Album: Ziggy Stardust
Released: 1972
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A “Suffragette” is a woman involved in the women’s suffrage movement (trying to get the right to vote). A London newspaper was the first to use the term, and did so in a derogatory manner. In England, women got voting rights in 1918. In the US, it was 1920.
Bowie offered this to the band Mott The Hoople, but they turned it down. Bowie was a big fan of Mott The Hoople, but they weren’t selling well and were about to break up. To keep them going, Bowie offered to produce their next album, and although they rejected this, they did record Bowie’s “All The Young Dudes,” which became a big hit and got them out of a financial mess.
The heavy saxophone backing sound is not a saxophone. It was created by an ARP synthesizer. Bowie wanted a larger-than-life sax sound, so they used the synth to create the sounds that a real sax couldn’t.
The famous “Wham Bam Thank-you Ma’am” lyric was the title of one of the tracks on Charles Mingus’ 1961 Oh Yeah album (according to Mingus it was also a phrase that his drummer, Max Roach, used when he was “unable to express his inner feelings”) and most likely one which Bowie was aware of, being a jazz lover himself. >>
The word “droogie” (from the line “Aw, droogie, don’t crash here”) is from the book (later made into a movie) A Clockwork Orange. It means “friend.” Like most of the words in the book’s teen-slang language, Nadsat, it’s based on Russian. >>
This is one of Bowie’s all time personal favorites.
When Bowie played this live in 1972, he started doing a bit at the end of the song where he went underneath his guitarist, Mick Ronson, and played the guitar with his mouth. This made it look like Bowie was simulating oral sex, and it caused a stir when Bowie talked his Manager into buying a whole page of advertising space in the British magazine Melody Maker to get the infamous “oral sex” picture published immediately after it was shot at a show in Oxford Town Hall in June 72. That’s the way photographer Mick Rock tells the tale in his book Blood And Glitter.

Sunday
Album: Heathen
Released: 2002
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This is the opening track to Heathen, which marked the return of producer Tony Visconti, who’d co-produced many of Bowie’s classic albums in the 1970s. Visconti recalled to Uncut magazine June 2008 about recording this track and the album: “‘Sunday’ is absolutely stunning. It took a long time to make and every time we added a layer of sound from either us or a visiting musician, the song grew to be more and more of an emotional experience. I think Heathen was a very spiritual album. David wrote some great lyrics, wore his heart on his sleeve for that album. This is all my assumption. He rarely “explains” his lyrics to me. But I have to make something of them so I can help to create his musical settings. Sometimes he would specifically tell me his meaning, to keep the recording focussed.”

The Supermen
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Survive
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Sweet Head
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Sweet Thing
Album: Diamond Dogs
Released: 1974

David Bowie explained to the Mail on Sunday June 29, 2008 that this medley of three songs was originally written for his aborted musical 1984: “I’d failed to obtain the theatrical rights from George Orwell’s widow for the book 1984 and having written three or more songs for it already, I did a fast about-face and recobbled the idea into Diamond Dogs: teen punks on rusty skates living on the roofs of the dystopian Hunger City; a post-apocalyptic landscape.

A centrepiece for this would-be stage production was to be ‘Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing,’ which I wrote using William Burroughs’s cut-up method. You write down a paragraph or two describing several different subjects creating a kind of story ingredients list, I suppose, and then cut the sentences into four or five-word sections; mix ’em up and reconnect them. You can get some pretty interesting idea combinations like this. You can use them as is or, if you have a craven need to not lose control, bounce off these ideas and write whole new sections.

I was looking to create a profligate world that could have been inhabited by characters from Kurt Weill or John Rechy – that sort of atmosphere. A bridge between Enid Blyton’s Beckenham and The Velvet Underground’s New York. Without Noddy, though.

I thought it evocative to wander between the melodramatic ‘Sweet Thing’ croon into the dirty sound of ‘Candidate’ and back again. For no clear reason (what’s new?) I stopped singing this song around the mid-’70s. Though I’ve never had the patience or discipline to get down to finishing a musical theater idea other than the Rock shows I’m known for, I know what I’d try to produce if I did. I’ve never been keen on traditional musicals. I find it awfully hard to suspend my disbelief when dialogue is suddenly song. I suppose one of the few people who can make this work is Stephen Sondheim with works such as Assassins. I much prefer through-sung pieces where there is little if any dialogue at all. Sweeney Todd is a good example, of course. Peter Grimes and The Turn Of The Screw, both operas by Benjamin Britten, and The Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny by Weill. How fantastic to be able to create something like that.”
These are listed as three separate tracks on the tracklisting of Diamond Dogs, though in reality it is a medley with “Candidate” splitting the two sections of “Sweet Thing.”

Teenage Wildlife
Album: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Released: 1980

David Bowie (from the Mail on Sunday June 29, 2008): “So it’s late morning and I’m thinking: ‘New song and a fresh approach. I know, I’m going to do a Ronnie Spector. Oh yes I am. Ersatz, just for one day.’ And I did and here it is. Bless. I’m still enamored of this song and would give you two ‘Modern Loves’ for it any time. It’s also one that I find fulfilling to sing onstage. It has some nice interesting sections to it that can trip you up, always a good kind of obstacle to contend with live. Ironically, the lyric is something about taking a short view of life, not looking too far ahead and not predicting the oncoming hard knocks. The lyric might have been a note to a younger brother or my own adolescent self.”
In the same Mail on Sunday interview Bowie referred to guitarists “the great Robert Fripp and my long-time friend Carlos Alomar” forming “a splintery little duel.” While Fripp is best known for his membership of the progressive rock band King Crimson, Alomar is an American session guitarist who has played on more Bowie albums than any other musician. Among the Bowie songs he has played on are “Young Americans,” “Fame” and “Boys Keep Swinging.”

Telling Lies
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The Bewlay Brothers
Album: Hunky Dory
Released: 1971

This is reputedly a fictionalized account of Bowie’s relationship with his older schizophrenic stepbrother Terry. It was Terry who introduced Bowie to Modern Jazz, his enthusiasm for which led to his mother buying him his first saxophone in Christmas 1959.
Bowie, Iggy Pop and engineer Colin Thurston produced Pop’s 1977 album Lust For Life under the pseudonym “Bewlay Bros.” Also Bowie named his publishing company in the late 1970s Bewlay Bros. Music.
David Bowie (from the Mail on Sunday June 29, 2008): “The only pipe I have ever smoked was a cheap Bewlay. It was a common item in the late ’60s and for this song I used Bewlay as a cognomen – in place of my own. This wasn’t just a song about brotherhood so I didn’t want to misrepresent it by using my true name. Having said that, I wouldn’t know how to interpret the lyric of this song other than suggesting that there are layers of ghosts within it. It’s a palimpsest, then.
The circumstances of the recording barely exist in my memory. It was late, I know that. I was on my own with my producer Ken Scott; the other musicians having gone for the night. Unlike the rest of the Hunky Dory album, which I had written before the studio had been booked, this song was an unwritten piece that I felt had to be recorded instantaneously. I had a whole wad of words that I had been writing all day. I had felt distanced and unsteady all evening, something settling in my mind. It’s possible that I may have smoked something in my Bewlay pipe. I distinctly remember a sense of emotional invasion. I do believe that we finished the whole thing on that one night. It’s likely that I ended up drinking at the Sombrero in Kensington High Street or possibly Wardour Street’s crumbling La Chasse. Cool.”

The Informar
Album: The Next Day Extra
Released: 2013

This is a further development of “Plan,” a short ominous instrumental, which was a bonus track on the original release of The Next Day. According to producer Tony Visconti, it is an “even darker piece with lyrics that bring up some disturbing images.”
Bowie added sweet backing vocals to his original angst-ridden lead vocal. They are made up of twelve tracks of backing vocals and harmonies all sung by him.

The Cynic
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The Jean Genie
Album: Aladdin Sane
Released: 1972

This song has two likely influences: Iggy Pop and Cyrinda Foxe. Many of the lyrics reflect Iggy Pop’s lifestyle and stage antics (he often slithered around on stage and cut himself). Cyrinda Foxe was an actress who starred in commercials for Jean Genie jeans. Legend has it that Bowie wrote this in Foxe’s apartment in an effort to entertain her. Foxe would go on to appear in the song’s official video alongside Bowie.

Cyrinda Foxe was Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler’s first wife – they married not long after she broke up with David Johansen of The New York Dolls. They had a daughter together, but got a bitter divorce. In 1996, she wrote a tell-all book about Tyler called Dream On, alleging that he didn’t pay much child support. Tyler tried unsuccessfully to stop publication, and was very angry with Foxe, but they became friends once again when Cyrinda learned she had brain cancer. Tyler paid her medical bills until her death in 2002.
On the Santa Monica ’72 live album, Bowie says that this is about a “a New York lady and a guy who lives in New York and he’s called The Jean Genie” (referring to the rebellious French writer Jean Genet).

David Bowie added in his 2005 book Moonage Daydream: “Starting out as a lightweight riff thing I had written one evening in NY for Cyrinda’s enjoyment, I developed the lyric to the otherwise wordless pumper and it ultimately turned into a bit of a smorgasbord of imagined Americana … based on an Iggy-type persona .The title, of course, was a clumsy pun upon Jean Genet.”
This was one of the first tracks Bowie wrote in New York City. He loves the city and has written many of his songs there. In 2001, Bowie opened the “Concert For New York,” a tribute to the police, firemen, and rescue workers involved in the World Trade Center attacks.
In 1973, Bowie spoke to NME about this song: “I wanted to get the same sound the Stones had on their very first album on the harmonica. I didn’t get that near to it, but it had a feel that I wanted – that ’60s thing.”

The Laughing Gnome
Album: Starting Point
Released: 1967

Every artist produces at least one work that must make him cringe in later life, and Bowie is no exception. Before “The Man Who Sold The World,” Life On Mars” and “All The Madmen,” there was “The Laughing Gnome.” This novelty single – which is about, you guessed it, a laughing gnome – was released April 14, 1967, the same day The Rolling Stones played the Warsaw Palace of Culture, a concert which ended in a riot as police using tear gas battled two thousand fans. One can only speculate as to what would have happened if Bowie had played instead.
Actually, “The Laughing Gnome” isn’t that bad, but decades on its awful puns will be wasted on most listeners, domestic and foreign alike. “Hev you gotta loight, boy?” is a reference to a contemporary song, and the Home Service – punned as “Gnome Service” – was the forerunner of modern BBC Radio.
A cynic might suggest that Bowie ripped off the idea from Al Stewart’s “The Elf,” which was released the previous year, but novelty songs were not new even in the ’60s, and the two tracks are poles apart. Bowie was obviously writing with an eye on the charts while Stewart’s song is about a different kind of magic. >>
In 1973, Deram, the record label Bowie recorded his debut album on in 1967, re-released “The Laughing Gnome” to cash in on the innovative rock musician’s success. To the amusement of the music press the re-issued song made #6 in the UK singles chart.
In 1990, Bowie announced the set list for his Sound+Vision Tour would be decided by telephone voting. The music magazine, NME, attempted to rig the voting so Bowie would have to perform “The Laughing Gnome,” but the voting system was later scrapped.

The Man Who Sold The World
Album: The Man Who Sold The World
Released: 1970

This song is about a man who no longer recognizes himself and feels awful about it. For years, Bowie struggled with his identity and expressed himself through his songs, often creating characters to perform them. On the album cover, Bowie is wearing a dress.
Some of the lyrics are based on a poem by Hugh Mearns called The Psychoed:

As I was going up the stair
I met a man who was not there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish that man would go away
Some lyrical analysis: “We passed upon the stair” is a figurative representation of a crossroads in Bowie’s life, where Ziggy Stardust catches a glimpse of his former self, (being David Bowie) which he thought had died a long time ago. Then he (the old David Bowie) says: “Oh no, not me. I never lost control.” This indicates that Bowie never really lost sight of who he was, but he Sold The World (made them believe) that he had become Ziggy, and he thought it was funny (I laughed and shook his hand). He goes on to state, “For years and years I roamed,” which could refer to touring. “Gaze a gazely stare at all the millions here” are the fans at concerts. >>
The album is one of Bowie’s least known, but over the years many fans have come to appreciate it and a lot of bands have covered songs from it.

Critics weren’t always sure what to make of it either, but John Mendelssohn had a good handle on it when he wrote of the album in Rolling Stone magazine, 1971: “Bowie’s music offers an experience that is as intriguing as it is chilling, but only to the listener sufficiently together to withstand the schizophrenia.”
British singer Lulu (“To Sir With Love”) recorded this in 1974. Bowie produced her version and played saxophone on the track. It went to #4 in the UK. Lulu recalled to Uncut magazine June 2008 about her recording of this: “I first met Bowie on tour in the early ’70s when he invited me to his concert. And back at the hotel, he said to me, in very heated language, ‘I want to make an MF of a record with you. You’re a great singer.’ I didn’t think it would happen, but he followed up two days later. He was uber cool at the time and I just wanted to be led by him. I didn’t think ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ was the greatest song for my voice, but it was such a strong song in itself. In the studio, Bowie kept telling me to smoke more cigarettes, to give my voice a certain quality. We were like the odd couple. Were we ever an item? I’d rather not answer that one, thanks!
For the video, people thought he came up with the androgynous look, but that was all mine. It was very Berlin cabaret. We did other songs, too, like ‘Watch That Man,’ ‘Can You Hear Me?’ and ‘Dodo.’ ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ saved me from a certain niche in my career. If we’d have carried on, it would have been very interesting.”

The Next Day
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

This is the title track of the twenty-fourth studio album by English musician David Bowie, which was recorded in secret with producer Tony Visconti over a two-year period. Visconti told The Ottawa Citizen that during breaks from the studio, he would walk the streets of New York listening to music from The Next Day. “I was walking around New York with my headphones on,” he recalled, “looking at all the people with Bowie T-shirts on – they are ubiquitous here – thinking, ‘Boy, if you only knew what I’m listening to at the moment.'”

Long-term Bowie Collaborator Tony Visconti has known the British musician since 1967 and has worked on numerous classics with him including his Berlin trilogy.
According to Visconti, Bowie was reading historical books during the recording of The Next Day and this is one of a couple of tracks that were inspired by medieval events. The producer told NME that this song is, “about the taking down of some kind of historical tyrant, someone in antiquity that I think was killed by a mob. It’s quite graphic what they do in the lyrics.”
Visconti told Billboard magazine: “The title track is one of the gorier songs. It’s kind of like a Hammer Horror film lyric to it, pretty gory. But I think David’s very multi-level; ‘The Next Day’ could also mean this is the new day or this is a new album, this is a new me. But I’m speculating.”
The Next Day was Bowie’s ninth #1 on the UK album chart, and his first chart-topper since Black Tie White Noise in 1993.

The Prettiest Star
Album: Aladdin Sane
Released: 1970

Bowie wrote this for his future wife, Angela ‘Angie’ Barnett. Bowie reportedly played it to Barnett over the phone when he proposed to her. Writing in The Mail On Sunday February 9, 2013, Angie recalled: “David wrote many of the songs for Aladdin Sane on his 1972 tour of America but ‘The Prettiest Star’ dates back to Christmas 1969. I was staying with my parents in Cyprus when he phoned and sang it down the phone to me. Two days later, I was back in London and our first stop was the recording studio, where Marc Bolan was adding the guitar solo. I was crazy about Aladdin Sane, loved the songs, especially ‘The Prettiest Star.’ That was the most personal. He wrote it for me.”
This was released as a single in 1970, but it flopped, shifting just 800 copies. In 1973, a glammed up version was recorded and released on Aladdin Sane, with Mick Ronson recreating Bolan’s original guitar part.
Marc Bolan of T. Rex played guitar on this track.

The Stars
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

The second single from The Next Day finds Bowie singing about the eternal status of celebrity, as he reflects, “The stars are never sleeping. Dead ones and the living.” Producer Tony Visconti noted to NME: “This one could be of (1972’s) Ziggy Stardust…It’s a big stadium rock song.”
Floria Sigismondi helmed the song’s music video. The Italian/Canadian photographer and director was also behind the clips for Bowie’s “Little Wonder” in 1996 and “Dead Man Walking” in 1997. The visual stars Bowie alongside British actress Tilda Swinton, whom you might recall from her role of Karen Crowder in Michael Clayton, which won her a Best-Supporting Actress Oscar. Bowie and Swinton portray a married couple who is harassed by their younger celebrity neighbours, (played by Saskia de Brauw and Andrej Pejíc).

The Wedding Song
Album: Black Tie White Noise
Released: 1993

The hypnotic closer on Bowie’s Black Tie White Noise album was first composed as a floating instrumental to be played at his wedding to Iman in 1992, one of five songs that he wrote for the nuptials. Bowie later added lyrics, transforming the tune into a declaration of euphoria from a man intent on changing his errant ways. The album opens with “The Wedding,” which was the original instrumental version.

This Is Not America
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Thursday’s Child
Album: Hours
Released: 1999

A memory of the autobiography of cabaret singer Eartha Kitt was the inspiration for this song’s title. Bowie recalled during a 1999 performance for VH1 Storytellers: “When I was about 14, Eartha Kitt and DH Lawrence were some of my favorite bedtime reading. Not just my bedtimes; the truth be known. And I’d seen this paperback in WHSmith’s of the Eartha Kitt life story, and she was standing quite sexily by a tree with the fields in the background, and it was called Thursday’s Child. And that stayed with me since I was 14. I don’t know why, but it just kind of bubbled up the other month when we wrote this.”

He added: “This song, I might point out, is not actually about Eartha Kitt.”
The song was released as the lead single from Hours…. Much of the material that ended up on the album, including “Thursday’s Child” was originally used, in alternate versions, for the video game Omikron: The Nomad Soul. David Bowie also had some input on Omikron’s storyline and design, as well as making two cameo appearances within the game.
American songwriter Reeves Gabrels was Bowie’s songwriting partner here. The pair worked together regularly from 1987 to 1999, and were both in the band Tin Machine. One of their collaborations, the Earthling track “Dead Man Walking,” was nominated for a Grammy award.
Los Angeles singer-songwriter Holly Palmer supplied the background vocals. Palmer subsequently toured worldwide with Bowie and his band as a vocalist and percussionist throughout 1999-2000.

Time
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Time Will Crawl
Album: Never Let Me Down
Released: 1987

David Bowie told the Mail on Sunday this song deals with the industrial pollution and destruction of our planet: “One Saturday afternoon in April 1986, along with some other musicians I was taking a break from recording at Montreux studios in Switzerland. It was a beautiful day and we were outside on a small piece of lawn facing the Alps and the lake.
Our engineer, who had been listening to the radio, shot out of the studio and shouted: ‘There’s a whole lot of s–t going on in Russia.’ The Swiss news had picked up a Norwegian radio station that was screaming – to anyone who would listen – that huge billowing clouds were moving over from the Motherland and they weren’t rain clouds. This was the first news in Europe of the satanic Chernobyl. I phoned a writer friend in London, but he hadn’t heard anything about it. It wasn’t for many more hours that the story started trickling out as major news. For those first few moments it felt sort of claustrophobic to know you were one of only a few witnesses to something of this magnitude.
Over the next couple of months a complicated crucible of impressions collected in my head prompted by this insanity, any one of which could have become a song. I stuck them all in ‘Time Will Crawl.’ That last sentence rhymes!”
A remix of this song was included on iSelect, a compilation album personally compiled by Bowie. Bowie told the Mail on Sunday why he chose to remix this track: “There are a host of songs that I’ve recorded over the years that for one reason or another (clenched teeth) I’ve often wanted to re-record some time in the future. This track from Never Let Me Down is one of those. I’ve replaced the drum machine with true drums and added some crickety strings and remixed. I’m very fond of this new version with its Neil Young of Shortlands accents. Oh, to redo the rest of that album.”

Tis a Pity She Was a Whore
Album: Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime
Released: 2014

The B-Side of the 2014 single, “Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime),” this song gets its title from a 17th century English play called ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore.

A tragedy written by John Ford, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore was first performed around 1630. Ford’s failure to condemn his protagonist’s incestuous passion for his sister made the play one of the most controversial works in English literature.
Bowie said the song was inspired by the destruction of World War I. “If Vorticists wrote rock music it might have sounded like this,” he said, referring to the short-lived modernist movement in British art and poetry that emerged just before the war began.

Tonight
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Too Dizzy
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Try Some, Buy Som
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Tumble and Twirl
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TVC 15
Album: Station To Station
Released: 1976

Bowie wrote this after hearing about Iggy Pop’s drug-induced hallucination, where he thought a girlfriend was being consumed by her television set. Details of the story are sketchy, as Bowie remembers little about the drug-fueled recording of his Station To Station album. The song proved a modest hit on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching #33 in the UK and #64 in the US.
Bowie performed an upbeat version of this at the Live Aid concert in London in 1985.
American keyboardist Roy Bittan, who is best known as a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, tinkled the ivories. Bowie asked him to sound like New Orleans blues singer and pianist Professor Longhair.

Bittan recalled to Uncut in 2016: “When I recorded with him on Station to Station, the first thing he wanted me to play was ‘TVC 15.’ He said to me, ‘Hey can you do like a Professor Longhair thing on this song?’ I was like, ‘Professor Longhair? This Brit is asking me about Professor Longhair?’ I was really taken aback.

The funny thing was that literally three weeks before that session, we had been in Houston and (E Street bassist) Garry Talent and I had seen in the paper that Professor Longhair was playing in some roadhouse outside of town. So we went to this place and Longhair was sitting at an upright piano and playing in this little club – it was fantastic. So when David asked me to do that, it was a very fortuitous moment and very surprising.”

Under Pressure
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Underground
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Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed
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Up The Hill Backwards
Album: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Released: 1980

The fourth and final single from David Bowie’s Scary Monsters album, this features Robert Fripp on lead guitar. The King Crimson axeman recalled to Mojo in 2015: “Bowie had the intelligence to let me get up and fly. On ‘Up The Hill Backwards,’ his words were referring to Marcel Duchamp, and I interpreted that in my playing.”
Marcel Duchamp (1887 – 1968) was a French artist whose work is most often associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. He first achieved fame not in his native country, but in the US, where his painting Nude Descending a Staircase, exhibited at the 1913 Armory Show in New York was the rage of the exhibition.

V-2 Schneider
Album: Heroes
Released: 1977

This instrumental piece is a tribute to Florian Schneider, co-founder of the German band Kraftwerk, whom Bowie acknowledged as a significant influence at the time. V-2 was Schneider’s nickname. Speaking about Bowie in Q magazine, Schneider’s bandmate, Ralf Hutter recalled. “He was travelling by Mercedes, listening to nothing but ‘Autobahn’ all the time.”

Valentine’s Day
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

The earliest track recorded for The Next Day, this Trad-Rock stormer has nothing to do with February 14th, but instead namechecks the 1929 Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre where seven mob associates were murdered as part of a prohibition era conflict between two powerful criminal gangs in Chicago. Producer Tony Visconti told NME that “the subject matter is pretty scary.” He explained: “It’s related to people who go postal, about people who acquire a gun and do awful things with it.”
Visconti told NME the song has a “Kinks influence.” Certainly the Teddy and June in the song echo the Terry and Julie of The Kinks’ hit tune “Waterloo Sunset.”
Bowie pays homage to the New York band Television by borrowing a piece of the riff from their track, “See No Evil.” Television frontman Tom Verlaine’s solo track “Kingdom Come” was covered by Bowie on Scary Monsters.
The song’s music video was directed by photographers Indrani and Markus Klinko, who are known for their highly stylized shots of the famous. They previously collaborated with Bowie on the artwork for his 2002 album Heathen. We see the British singer performing the song in an old abandoned building.

Velvet Goldmine
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The Voyeur of Utter Destruction (as Beauty)
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Warszawa
Album: Low
Released: 1977

Bowie crossed through Warsaw (the capital of Poland) twice – first, in 1973, whilst traveling from Moscow to West Berlin (Bowie reportedly told his wife, Angie, that he had “never been so damned scared in my life”), and secondly in 1976, whilst traveling from Zurich to Moscow (this time alongside Iggy Pop). Inspired by the desolation that he saw, Bowie wrote “Warszawa.”
This song was first formed when Bowie’s producer Tony Visconti’s son was playing the notes A-B-C repeatedly on the piano. Brian Eno, who collaborated on the song with Bowie, sat next to him and finished the sequence of notes that would form the intro to the song. >>
The lyrics in the middle part of this are based upon a song by the Polish folk choir, Slask.
This song supplied the influential Manchester alternative rock band Joy Division’s original name, Warsaw. Front man, Ian Curtis, was reportedly obsessed with the track.
Bowie played this as the opening number on his 1978 and 2002 tours.

Watch That Man
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We All Go Through
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We Are the Dead
Album: Diamond Dogs
Released: 1974

This is based on a line from George Orwell’s novel 1984 – “We are the dead” are the last words Winston Smith says to Julia before they are caught by the Thought Police. Bowie wrote the song for a musical adaptation of the book but failed to get authorization from the Orwell estate.

The Wedding Song
Album: Black Tie White Noise
Released: 1993

The hypnotic closer on Bowie’s Black Tie White Noise album was first composed as a floating instrumental to be played at his wedding to Iman in 1992, one of five songs that he wrote for the nuptials. Bowie later added lyrics, transforming the tune into a declaration of euphoria from a man intent on changing his errant ways. The album opens with “The Wedding,” which was the original instrumental version.

We Shall Go to Town
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The Wedding Song
Album: Black Tie White Noise
Released: 19993

The hypnotic closer on Bowie’s Black Tie White Noise album was first composed as a floating instrumental to be played at his wedding to Iman in 1992, one of five songs that he wrote for the nuptials. Bowie later added lyrics, transforming the tune into a declaration of euphoria from a man intent on changing his errant ways. The album opens with “The Wedding,” which was the original instrumental version.

Weeping Wall (instrumental)
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What in the World
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What’s Really Happening?
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When I Met You
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When the Wind Blows
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Where Are We Now?
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

Having not performed live since 2006 and rarely been seen in public since amidst rumors of ill health, Bowie surprised his fans on his 66th birthday when this song’s video was uploaded onto his website. The tender ballad was recorded in the singer’s now-native New York and produced by his long-time collaborator Tony Visconti. It was released on January 8, 2013 via the iTunes Store in 119 countries.
The song finds Bowie reflecting on his time in Berlin, the German city where Bowie and Visconti produced Low, Heroes and Lodger in the 1970s. Bowie references in his lyrics some of the places that he lived when he was recording those records.
The artwork for The Next Day is an altered version of the cover to Heroes, suggesting a further connection to Bowie’s Berlin album trilogy. Designer Jonathan Barnbrook explained his unusual artwork on his VirusFonts website. “The “Heroes” cover obscured by the white square is about the spirit of great pop or rock music which is ‘of the moment’, forgetting or obliterating the past,” Barnbrook said. “However, we all know that this is never quite the case, no matter how much we try, we cannot break free from the past. When you are creative, it manifests itself in every way – it seeps out in every new mark you make (particularly in the case of an artist like Bowie).”
He added: “We wanted the cover to be as minimal and undesigned as possible, we felt the most elegant solution was to use the original one from Heroes and simply cross out the title of the old album. It has the detachment appropriate for the atmosphere of the new album.”
The haunting music video was directed by Tony Oursler and also harks back to Bowie’s time in Berlin. He is seen looking in on footage of the auto repair shop beneath the apartment he lived in, along with stark images detailing the bleak landscape of the city at the time.
Speaking to BBC News about the song a couple of days after its release, Visconti said: “I think it’s a very reflective track for David. He certainly is looking back on his Berlin period and it evokes this feeling… it’s very melancholy, I think. It’s the only track on the album that goes this much inward for him. It’s quite a rock album, the rest of the songs, so I thought to myself why is David coming out with this very slow, albeit beautiful, ballad why is he doing this? He should come out with a bang. But he is a master of his own life. I think this was a very smart move, linking the past with the future.”
Tony Visconti didn’t get to hear the lyrics for this song until about five months after the instrumentation was recorded. He recalled to Billboard magazine: “It was just a pretty ballad; it was called something else, but I forget what. He came in one day and said, ‘I’ve written words for that. I wrote a song about Berlin,’ and I thought, ‘How nice. That’s really cool.’ And he gave me a copy (of the lyrics) and got on mic and started warming up, and I read the lyrics and it gave me goosebumps because I spent quite awhile in Berlin, too, making the three albums that are called the Berlin Trilogy. I knew what he was talking about, because in those days when we were making those albums he didn’t live in a very expensive apartment. He lived in the bad part of town, and he and Iggy Pop and I used to go around to just ordinary beer gardens and sit around and pretend we were German and drink beer. He got that feeling in that song with those lyrics.”
The single made it to #1 on the British iTunes chart by 3 pm on the day of its release. It also made it to the top of the charts in seven other countries on the day of its release. At the end of the week the song entered the UK Singles Chart at #6, Bowie’s highest charting single there since “Absolute Beginners” reached #2 in 1986. His previous top ten UK single was “Jump They Say,” which reached #9 in March 1993.
Bowie’s conjoined female companion in the music video is director Tony Oursler’s wife, the artist Jacqueline Humphries. It’s been reported that Bowie and Oursler wanted someone who looked like the singer’s PA during his time in Berlin, Corrine “Coco” Schwab.
Writing in The Mail On Sunday, Bowie’s former wife and stage manager Angie slammed the song, calling it “tired” and adding that it reminds her of an era she’d rather forget. “I can’t help but wonder what happened to the musical innovator,” she said. “I’m not trying to be unkind, but I can’t escape the feeling that the retro-introspective mood of the song has one message: ‘I’m not going to be here much longer, let’s talk about the past.’ There’s nothing about the sound that’s new either. The subject matter is tired: it’s a nostalgic look back to the last time he was at the forefront of pop music.”

“And, worst of all, the record romanticises and mythologises a period of David’s career I recall with distaste,” she continued. “What I remember of Berlin – where David lived for three years in the late ’70s – is lots of sitting around nightclubs, with David pretending he was an extra from Cabaret witnessing the rise of the Nazis.”

White Light/White Heat
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The Width of a Circle
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Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud
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Wild Is the Wind
Album: Station To Station
Released: 1976

This song was written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington and originally recorded by Johnny Mathis for the 1957 film Wild Is The Wind. The tune proved to be very popular peaking at #22 on the US singles chart and receiving a nomination for an Academy Award.
Nina Simone recorded the song in a very low key as the title track for an album she released in 1966. Bowie was an admirer of Simone’s style, and after meeting her in Los Angeles he was inspired to record the pop/jazz tune as the concluding number for Station to Station. Five years later he released it as the lead single from his compilation album Changestwobowie taking it to #24 on the UK singles chart.

Win
Album: Young Americans
Released: 1975

The American jazz saxophonist David Sanborn played on this song about, amusingly enough, winning. Bowie told the Mail on Sunday June 29, 2008: “He was experimenting with sound effects at the time and I’d rather hoped he would push further into that area, but he chose to become rich and famous instead. So he did win really, didn’t he?”

Wishful Beginnings
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Without You
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Wood Jackson
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Word on a Wing
Album: Station To Station
Released: 1976
Bowie explained on the VH1 Storytellers series that he penned this song as a prayer to see him through the period when a debilitating coke addiction had him flirting with fascism and black magic.

He recalled: “I think it was so steeped in awfulness that recall is nigh on impossible, certainly painful, and I was concerned with questions like: ‘Do the dead interest themselves in the affairs of the living?’ ‘Can I change the channel on my TV without using the clicker?’ Unwittingly, this next song was therefore our signal of distress; I’m sure that it was a call for help.”
Bowie told the NME that the crunch point came when he was filming the Nicholas Roeg film, The Man Who Fell to Earth. Said the Thin White Duke: “There were days of such psychological terror when making the Roeg film that I nearly started to approach my reborn, born again thing. It was the first time I’d really seriously thought about Christ and God in any depth, and ‘Word on a Wing’ was a protection. It did come as a complete revolt against elements that I found in the film. The passion in the song was genuine… something I needed to produce from within myself to safeguard myself against some of the situations I felt were happening on the film set.”
In 1980, Bowie told NME that he believes he was blinkered by religion around the time he wrote this song: “There was a point when I very nearly got suckered into that narrow sort of looking…finding the cross as the salvation of mankind.”
His cocaine addiction was so severe during its recording that nowadays, Bowie is unable to remember making Station To Station.

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Yassassin
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You Feel So Lonely You Could Die
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

This melodramatic soul-drenched waltz-time piano ballad finds Bowie singing a kiss off to a would-be suicide, whose depression appears to have been brought on by the loneliness of a city. “I can see you as a corpse, hanging from a beam… Oh, see if I care, Oh please make it soon,” he croons.
The song title is taken from a lyric from Elvis Presley’s first hit, “Heartbreak Hotel”. Bowie shares his birthday, January 8th, with The King.
Critics have compared the tune’s mournful tone to that of “Five Years” and the song concludes with the drum pattern of the Ziggy Stardust track.

(You Will) Set the World On Fire
Album: The Next Day
Released: 2013

This song about ambition and fame finds Bowie singing about Bob Dylan and his fellow Greenwich Villagers David Van Ronk and Phil Ochs, during the ’60s folk boom. The song is a tribute to the power and influence of the early ’60s folk scene in the English Rock icon’s adopted home city.
Bowie’s longtime guitar sidekick Earl Slick plays on this track. Slick recalled to Ultimate Classic Rock how his pal called him out of the blue in the summer of 2012 and “said, ‘I’m ready to go back in. What are you doing? Are you around? Are you touring?'” Once Slick said he was available they, “started banging dates around, and he was already recording – and I went in and did all my stuff in July.”

Bowie put a gagging order over the whole project and Slick told Ultimate Classic Rock how difficult it was trying to keep the Thin White Duke’s plans secret for months. “Do you have any idea how many interviews I’ve done since May, with this under my belt, which I couldn’t say anything about? It was horrible!” he said.

“I had the cover for the Christmas issue of Guitar Player magazine. That was the hardest one – it’s a double issue and it stays on the stands longer, and they did a 14-page spread on me, and I’m thinking, ‘Christ, I can’t even say anything.’ Anyway, he appreciated that – and I got a nice thank you for keeping my big mouth shut.”

You’ve Been Around
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You’ve Got a Habit of Leaving
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Young Americans
Album: Young Americans
Released: 1975
Bowie never was a young American – he was born and raised in England. Bowie said that this was the result of cramming his “whole American experience” into one song.
This was recorded between tour dates at Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios, which was the capital of black music in the area. The Soul influence had a very obvious effect on Bowie’s style. He even completely redesigned the stage for the rest of his Diamond Dogs tour.
Over the course of about eight very creative days, Bowie recorded most of the songs for Young Americans at Sigma Studios. He usually recorded his vocals after midnight because he heard that’s when Frank Sinatra recorded most of his vocals, and because there weren’t so many people around.

Sigma had a staff of very talented producers and musicians (known as MFSB – the same folks who had a #1 hit with “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)”), but Bowie used his own people – Tony Visconti produced this track.
The line near the end, “I heard the news today, oh boy,” is a reference to the Beatles song “A Day In The Life.” John Lennon worked with Bowie on “Fame” and also Bowie’s cover of “Across The Universe.” Both songs are on this album.
The lead instrument in this song the saxophone, which was played by American Jazz player David Sanborn, who was just starting to get noticed when Bowie brought him in to play on this.
Bowie hired Luther Vandross, who had yet to establish himself as a solo artist, to sing backup and create the vocal arrangements on the Young Americans album.
Near the end of the song, Bowie sings, “Black’s got respect and white’s got his soul train.” Soul Train is an American TV show targeted to a black audience that started in 1970. The show features lots of very expressive dancing as well as a musical guest, and in November 1975, Bowie became one of the first white singers to perform on the show, something he was very proud of. The “Young Americans” single was released in February 1975, so Bowie performed “Fame” and “Golden Years,” which was his current single.
Young Americans was the first Bowie album that guitarist Carlos Alomar played on. Bowie first saw Alomar playing in the house band at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, and convinced him to play on this album and join the tour. Alomar became a major contributor, playing on several of Bowie’s albums and coming up with guitar riffs for songs like “Fame” and “Golden Years.”
The album was going to be called “Dancin'” before Bowie decided to name it after this track.
At a performance at Giants Stadium, Bowie stopped after singing the line, “Ain’t there one damn song that can make me…”, and dropped to the stage, where he stayed for 10 minutes. The crowd went nuts, but got concerned after a while. Bowie did it to see what kind of reaction he would get.
The Cure did a version of this in appreciation of Bowie, their long time friend. The lyrics “Do you remember President Nixon?” were changed to “…President Clinton?” The Cure’s version was originally released on a British radio demo CD only, but can now be found on various bootlegs.

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Ziggy Stardust
Album: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Released: 1972

Ziggy Stardust is a character Bowie created with the help of his then-wife, Angela. The character’s name was inspired by the ’60s psychobilly musician, Legendary Stardust Cowboy. Bowie performed under the Stardust persona for about a year. This specific song is about Stardust growing too conceited: “Making love with his ego, Ziggy sucked up into his mind.” Stardust’s band, The Spiders From Mars, consequently plan to get revenge on the egotistical front man: “So we bitched about his fans, and should we crush his sweet hands?” Bowie said that the song is “about the ultimate rock superstar destroyed by the fanaticism he creates.”
Iggy Pop (note the name: zIGGY), Lou Reed, Marc Bolan, Gene Vincent and Jimi Hendrix (“He played it left hand, but made it too far” – Hendrix was left-handed), were all likely influences on the character Ziggy Stardust, but the only musician Bowie admits was a direct influence is Vince Taylor, an English singer who took the “rock star” persona to the extreme, calling himself Mateus and declaring himself the son of God. Taylor was popular in France in the early ’60s, and Bowie met him in 1966, after his popularity had faded.
Bowie based the clothes, hair, and makeup of Ziggy Stardust on the Malcom McDowell character in A Clockwork Orange, and on William Burroughs book Wild Boys. Some of the posturing was inspired by Gene Vincent, a rockabilly star who injured his leg in a 1960 car accident that killed Eddie Cochran. When Bowie saw Vincent in concert, he was wearing a leg brace and had to stand with his injured leg behind him; Bowie appropriated this stance, calling it “position number one for the embryonic Ziggy.”
“Weird and Gilly” were two of Bowie’s band mates in The Spiders From Mars: bassist Trevor Bolder and drummer Woody Woodmansey.
This song and the Ziggy Stardust persona as a whole was a major influence on glam rock bands like T-Rex and Suede. Glam rock was characterized by outrageous costumes, flamboyant stage antics, and sexual ambiguity.
Bowie was very theatrical and a student of acting and mime. He admitted that the Ziggy character was his way of dealing with the mental health issues that plagued his family – he basically went into character so he wouldn’t go crazy. “One puts oneself through such psychological damage in trying to avoid the threat of insanity,” Bowie said. “As long as I could put those psychological excesses into my music and into my work, I could always be throwing it off.” After a while, Ziggy started to scare David, as he was getting engrossed in the persona. He was afraid that the blurring of Stardust and Bowie would lead to madness, and on July 3, 1973, David did his last show as Ziggy at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. The show was made into a movie directed by D.A. Pennebaker called Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars. It was released on DVD in 2003. For years Bowie would not look at tapes of himself performing as Ziggy Stardust, but when he finally did, he thought they were hilarious.
The album cover shows David Bowie (dressed as Ziggy Stardust) standing outside the furriers, K. West, which was located at 23 Heddon Street, London. In March 2012, a plaque honoring Ziggy Stardust was installed where the K. West sign once hung. This plaque is the one of the few in the UK dedicated to a fictional character.
While doing an interview in character as Ziggy Stardust, Bowie admitted he was gay. This gave him a great deal of publicity, even though it was not entirely true. Bowie later married the model Iman.
In a poll by Out.com, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars was voted the gayest album of all time. A panel of “gay experts” including Boy George, Rufus Wainwright and Cyndi Lauper voted in the poll.
Bauhaus recorded a version of this song in 1982 that hit #15 in the UK. The song has also been recorded by Def Leppard, Nina Hagen and Hootie And The Blowfish.
A production error meant a live version of this song was left off some copies of the 3-CD set Bowie At The Beeb. Bowie later made the track available for download to those fans who did not get it on the album.
This never charted because it was not released as a single. Many British acts at the time focused on albums and tried to limit the number of singles they issued.
There is a plaque outside the pub in London where Bowie created the Ziggy Stardust character. Bowie performed there when it was The Three Tuns. It is now called The Rat And Parrot.
The song is ranked #277 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Bowie later said that his Ziggy alter-ego “wouldn’t leave me alone for years. That was when it all started to go sour … My whole personality was affected. It became very dangerous. I really did have doubts about my sanity.”

Zion
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5:15 The Angels Have Gone
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An heroically ambitious epic ballad that, in its chorus, recalls the dramatic excesses of “Absolute Beginners” but played down from anthem to outsider anthem. The dusty, shuffling verses are magnificent and do a fine job at concealing the imminent onslaught of the chorus, a pained howl of alienation

87 and Cry 
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“’87 and cry” is a song from his album Never Let Me Down and is the seventeenth studio album by David Bowie, released in April 1987 by EMI America. Bowie conceived the album as the foundation for a theatrical world tour, writing and recording most of the songs in Switzerland. He considered the record a return to rock ‘n’ roll music.

1984 
Album: Diamond Dogs
Released: 1974
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“1984” is a 1974 song from his album Diamond Dogs. Written in 1973, it was inspired by George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and, like much of its parent album, originally intended for a stage musical based on the novel, which was never produced because permission was refused by Orwell’s wife.
The centerpiece of Side Two of the original vinyl album, in the context of Bowie’s adaptation of Orwell’s story, “1984” has been interpreted as representing Winston Smith’s imprisonment and interrogation by O’Brien. The lyrics also bear some similarities to Bowie’s earlier song “All the Madmen”, from The Man Who Sold the World (“They’ll split your pretty cranium and fill it full of air”).

“1984”‘s wah-wah guitar sound is often likened to the “Theme from Shaft” (1971) by Isaac Hayes. Played by Alan Parker, it was one of the few instances on the Diamond Dogs album where Bowie himself did not take the lead guitar part. The track’s funk/soul influence has been cited as a clear indicator of where Bowie’s style was headed on his next album, Young Americans.

Recording and release
“1984” was first recorded during the Aladdin Sane sessions. The song received its public debut, in a medley with “Dodo”, known as “1984/Dodo”, on the U.S. TV special The 1980 Floor Show (later bootlegged on record as Dollars in Drag), which was recorded in London on 18–20 October 1973.[1] A studio version of “1984/Dodo” was recorded around that time, but went unreleased until it appeared on the Sound + Vision box set in 1989. This was Bowie’s last recording with Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and producer Ken Scott at Trident Studios, London.

In addition to the “1984/Dodo” medley, “Dodo” and “1984” were also recorded separately, “Dodo” as a demo in September 1973 and “1984” itself during the later Diamond Dogs sessions that winter. Only “1984” made it onto the Diamond Dogs album, with the separated “Dodo” being released for the first time as a bonus track on the 1990 Rykodisc release of the album.

The final version of “1984” was faster and funkier than the medley and, as described by Bowie encyclopedist Nicholas Pegg, “an obvious single if there ever was one”. However, it was released as a single (PB 10026) only in America, Japan and New Zealand, where it failed to chart. The track generally opened the Diamond Dogs concerts in 1974 but was not performed live after the soul tour in 1975.

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