David Bowie

 

 

In a recent interview for a korean magazine i was asked to list my favorite songs of an artist that I appreciate and who influenced me and my vision in some way.

I talked about David Bowie.

Obviously...... these aren't the best songs......but they are just my favorite ones or the tracks that i think are the most beautiful for some reason.

 

 

 

Space Oddity

In an interview 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 song was originally released in 1969 on Bowie's self-titled album, which was available only in the UK 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 1972, the album was re-titled Space Oddity and released in the US for the first time after Bowie achieved modest success in America with the singles "Changes" (#66) and "The Jean Genie" (#71). The newly-released "Space Oddity" made #15, becoming Bowie's first US Top 40. 

  

Quicksand

A not very popular Bowie song but a great composition, in my opinion.

Maybe this was the most crucial point in his career was. On one hand he had the massive philosophical debate concerning his commitment to his belief in the underground 'ideal'. On the other he had met capitalism up-front on his visit to America. Was he to pursue the fight to overthrow and revolutionist or was he to accept the profit of stardom? His mind could possibly provide the answer to one, his pocket, welfare and need to communicate, the other.

  

Time

This song manages to be both campy and avant-garde simultaneously,

and with its echoes of pre-war Berlin cabaret it neatly seems to prefigure Bowie's own sojourn in that city in the later Seventies.

"Time" hearkens back to the theatrics of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust too...in some way.

Another really interesting composition.

  

TVC15

I adore TVC15. The piano-based rhythm'n'blues novelty is incredible!

David Bowie is really intriguing here toying with retrograde dance music and packaging together a hodgepodge of prog-rock cliches and dance experiments.


Always crashing in the same car

Always Crashing In The Same Car is a lounge ballad that shows the difference between Bowie's original soul and the Eno-retooled soul: there is little left of Bowie's sentimental pathos, replaced by a plain, almost robotic languor. Here electronic sounds don't become the true and "only"voice (like in other songs of the album); the "sound" doesn't prevail on the melody; the composition isn't a complete abstraction.

  

Blackout

Blackout is full of darkly exhilarating sonic schizophrenia.

There's an atmosphere of "disorientation, fragmentation, panic.

Blackout is the final morsel that pushes the first side of the album "Heroes" from merely good to truly great. Over a shrieking, thumping background Bowie howls “Get me off the streets” and spins a disjointed tale of Japanese influence and fleeing town. The mocking backing vocals only add to the nightmarish feel, while in the background a faux harmonica wails away.

Blackout is, in addition to being a great song, the sound of Bowie admitting that he has been out of control and his inability to save himself. 

 

Heroes

This is a piece of rock history.

Featured in this song are not only Brian Eno's synthesizer and Robert Fripp's guitar, but also producer Tony Visconti banging on a metal ashtray that was lying around the studio.

I think that it's a beautiful song but it's incredibly melancholy at the same time. We can be heroes, but actually we know that something's missing, something's lost.

 

DJ

Despite its brilliance, "DJ" is one of the lost gems in Bowie's catalog.

Adrian Belew's guitar grabs the attention, courtesy of a solo that was constructed from an entire series of different takes, then pieced together to give the impression of the radio dial flipping through a handful of stations, each of which is airing a guitar solo at the time.

The lyric is one of Bowie's most straightforward; the vocal one of his most histrionic.

 

 

Ashes to ashes

In 1980, Bowie released a follow-up to Space Oddity where Major Tom once again makes contact with Earth. He says he is happy in space. The song was called "Ashes To Ashes".

In a 2003 interview 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 heart's filthy lesson

The track packed a punch; it was cold and weird, his boldest shot at re-invention since Tin Machine. It signaled a new Bowie persona, or at least the return of an old one: obscurantist, distant, menacing, clinically obsessed with blood and guts. 

I think that there’s a trace of Bowie’s gnostic leanings in his song’s title phrase—the body’s a prison and we grant nobility to our jailer, making a happy god of our dirty waterworks.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                  Alessandro Niccolai