How deeply saddening it was to hear of Ziggy Stardust’s passing this past Sunday evening. I thought I’d pay tribute with 25 of my favorite Bowie tracks to celebrate a wonderful life. This is the mark of a true visionary, that his work is held in such high esteem by voices all over the world, for heralded musicians and artists, and for common folk like me. 🙂
*See Spotify playlist at the bottom of this page*
25. Look Back in Anger (Lodger)
The finale to the legendary “Berlin Trilogy” provides a quicker change of pace from the last two Eno-inspired records, and simultaneously exists as the mirror of one of Oasis’ anthems. Rather fitting, isn’t it?
24. Be My Wife (Low)
David Bowie’s substance abuse, particularly in the late 1970’s, is no secret to anyone, and in many cases is celebrated as a sort of crutch for his creativity. It certainly is a wonder his ability to perform regardless of any level of high, but it seems to show for worse on one of Low‘s rockier tracks in this video. Besides that, what a killer song!
23. The Heart’s Filthy Lesson (Outside)
Can you tell Trent Reznor‘s fingerprints both musically and stylistically play a big role in this song? Yeah, me too, and Bowie did industrial rock just as capably.
22. Modern Love (Let’s Dance)
It’s a close race between this and “Let’s Dance” for best song on that record. “Modern Love” gets the edge solely for the sexy sax solo.
21. Let’s Spend the Night Together (Aladdin Sane)
Rocking a onesie without a care in the world, Ziggy Stardust prepares to shock fans everywhere by retiring the character for good, but not before belting out an Aladdin Sane staple better than the Stones ever did.
20. Strangers When We Meet (The Buddha of Suburbia)
Admire not only 90’s David Bowie here on “Later”, but also underrated collaborator Mike Garson on piano.
19. Stay (Station to Station)
“Stay” is already a masterpiece in studio recording form, yet Bowie manages to attract only the most technically gifted and prolific guitar players in performances such as this one featuring Adrian Belew.
18. Rebel Rebel (Diamond Dogs)
Halloween Jack, Diamond Dog, Nick Fury…whatever you want to call him, Bowie’s crunchy guitar set the tone for his post-Ziggy endeavors. That riff could get stuck in my head all day.
17. “Heroes” (“Heroes”)
Amidst his death, the masses whether learned or not in all things David Bowie ultimately flock to a particular anthem song to represent his entire career. For Michael Jackson, it was “Man In The Mirror”. For Bowie, this is the apex for the mourning world.
16. Ashes to Ashes (Scary Monsters)
I’m glad David Bowie was able to usher in the eighties right at the decade’s genesis. Both the music video and song were pretty telling of the sounds coming out at the time.
15. Lazarus (Blackstar)
The mystery of David Bowie just climbed over 9000! “Lazarus” already possesses poignant yet eerie lyrics, and the video to accompany Bowie’s dying breath only magnifies his legend tenfold. The man was creative to the bone til the very end.
14. Ziggy Stardust (The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust…)
Who is Ziggy Stardust? Let me wear the shoes for a moment of your typical high school slacker that still manages a 3.7 GPA and explain my project through use of a video. A+
13. Sound and Vision (Low)
Equally as catchy as it is technically savvy, “Sound and Vision” perfectly encapsulates all of the things I love about Low as a whole in one three minute burst.
12. The Man Who Sold The World (The Man Who Sold The World)
The guitar riff to open the song combined with the C scale to F scale transition in the chorus is absolutely mind blowing. Falling in between smash hit “Space Oddity” and his beloved Ziggy Stardust persona, Bowie surprised and captivated future artists with “The Man Who Sold The World”.
11. Life On Mars (Hunky Dory)
Cheers to the man who wore a light blue suit better than even the great Jim Carrey in “Dumb & Dumber”. Thank you too for this Danny karaoke staple. Powerful!
10. Sense of Doubt/Moss Garden (“Heroes”)
The Yin and Yang juxtaposition of “Sense Of Doubt” transitioning into “Moss Garden” is a grand journey of the dark sounds of Berlin in the later 1970’s blooming into beautiful light.
9. Fame (Young Americans)
In Bowie’s dive into soul music, Young Americans’ potential wasn’t fully realized until the Thin White Duke capitalized on the followup, Station to Station, but among both records, “Fame” provided a sweet glimpse of the man in top form.
8. Sue (Or In a Season of Crime) (Blackstar)
Blackstar yielded many treasures in its fond farewell to the world, but perhaps the greatest of these is Bowie’s most frantic track, “Sue”, inspired by its avant-jazz predecessors.
7. Panic In Detroit (Aladdin Sane)
The piano-driven tracks on Aladdin Sane are magnificent and complex in scale, yet the highlight of the record happens to come again in the form of rocking guitar and Ziggy’s untouchable vocal performance.
6. Oh! You Pretty Things (Hunky Dory)
I give Bowie credit countless times for surrounding himself with awe-inspiring musical talent, but to say he isn’t in the same league on piano here (at just 24 years of age) would be robbing him of the praise that is due.
5. Space Oddity (David Bowie, a.k.a. ‘Space Oddity’)
Objectively, this may be the greatest song of all time. The melody, lyrics, and popularity prove to be a timeless formula within the Bowie catalog. However, music is subjective, yet “Space Oddity” remains top-tier anyways.
4. Warzsawa (Low)
There is too much to be said about Low and it’s innovations in popular music. I can gawk about Brian Eno all day, but I’ll save it. Listen to the soothing electronics and ambient sounds of “Warszawa”, and be amazed at the fact that this song is almost 40 years old!
3. Andy Warhol (Hunky Dory)
Despite an amazing combination of guitar riffing and introspective lyrics about the always peculiar Andy Warhol, Bowie’s song in tribute to the legendary artist/director/photographer goes rather unnoticed amidst so many hit songs.
2. Station to Station (Station to Station)
This two part epic and introduction to the Thin White Duke’s masterpiece Station to Station is great indeed, yet an anomaly among Bowie’s entire discography considering he doesn’t even recall the recording process of the album. What say you, Rick James?
1. Starman (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust…)
Look at this video. Listen to this song. “Starman” is the perfect David Bowie track. A celebration of artistry, musical camaraderie between players, bombastic lyricism and stage presence, and all things Ziggy Stardust, “Starman” will live forever as a perfect swansong to a legend now departed from this world. I’d have liked to come and meet him, but I think he’d blow my mind.