When I was asked to write about David Bowie and to, “introduce people to a bit of his career and history and a playlist of songs to get to know his work overall”, the prospect was daunting. I’m a great admirer, perhaps even a devotee, but not by any means an expert.
Also, there’s a thing about Bowie that newcomers should be aware of: when he is good there’s not much better, and when he’s bad it can be really painful to listen to.
*David Bowie is releasing his first album in 10 years, due in March. Here’s a sample from the upcoming album, “Where are we now?.” This article is intended to give newcomers a chance to understand the scope of Bowie’s career. Check out the Grooveshark playlist down below in the article–it will give you some groovy sounds to fill your time leading up to the release of the new album…
This is a guest article, written by a friend, Dylan Hostetter, an extraordinary musician living in Los Angeles, California.
Basically, the way I view it is that there is the early stuff where the song-crafting is still in a bit of a developmental stage, (Space Oddity, Man Who Sold the World) but wherein we can uncover some beautiful hidden gems. Then came Hunky Dory, the crowning achievement of Bowie’s songwriting genius. Do yourself a favor and just listen to it front to back… every song is great. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars continues the brilliance.
Listen here to most of the songs listed in this article.
Then the magic starts to fade with Aladdin Sane, which still has some jams. Pin Ups is mostly covers, to be honest I haven’t really sunk my teeth into it, (my girlfriend says it’s awesome…) and Diamond Dogs is kind of stagnant.
Young Americans showcases what became David Bowie’s trademark: an incredible ability to completely reinvent himself. He moves into the realm of Soul and R&B, though as interesting as that is to see, the album ends up being more of a genre experiment than a great songwriting endeavor, although the title track and, “Fame” are great songs.
Station to Station is sadly an album that I am not as familiar with, (“Golden Years” is a great song) although it is followed by one of my favorite Bowie albums of all time, Low. Produced by Brian Eno, the album has a distinct “A-side”, and “B-side”, an effect lost in the age of digital music.
As I write this, the huge hole in my David Bowie knowledge is becoming clear to me. For a moment a feeling of shame washes over me followed by a sense of futility in my writing of this article, due to my obvious bias toward the early stuff. I don’t really know Heroes or Lodger… but my years of training as a secret sacred warrior are enabling me to look at the “rising sun” perspective of all of this, and the wonderful opportunity I have to delve further into the music of the “Thin White Duke”.
So, dear reader, though my list may be flawed in many ways, here are my current favorite Bowie songs: