The 50 Best David Bowie Songs

On the occasion of his birthday, here are the 50 best songs by David Bowie.

Relax, it’s all OK. The word “best” is entirely subjective. I’m clear on that. I’m just a fan among many others who wants to share my love of for my favorite musician.

Before I share this list, let me just state for the record that my heart is still broken about losing him. I couldn’t listen to Blackstar for a solid six months (after a joyful three-times-in-a-row listening the day after it was released on his birthday in 2016). I still sometimes can’t believe we’re living in a world without David Bowie in it. And when my grief is at its worst, that’s when I remind myself why his departure was so deeply felt by so many people: HIS MUSIC.

When I got the call from a friend very early on the morning of 1/11/16 telling me that he had died (which as we know was on the 10th but the news broke early on the 11th) I felt something break inside me. I had never cried about the death of someone famous. I never got to meet David Bowie though I’ll always be thankful I got to see him perform live on three separate occasions. I can’t imagine what it must have been like – and still be like- for those closest to him.

I’m going to share a quick story before I share the list of songs because it’s something I’ll never forget.

In December of 2015 I interviewed Blackstar producer (and producer of several other DB records), musician and longtime friend of David Bowie, Tony Visconti. The interview was via telephone and was in advance of a performance in Portland, Maine (where I live) from Holy Holy. Holy Holy featured Visconti on bass and former Bowie drummer (not to mention one of the Spiders from Mars) Woody Woodmansey among other first-rate musicians. They were on tour  playing “The Man Who Sold the World” album in its entirety as well as some other 70s era Bowie tracks.  I of course went to the show on January 7, 2016 (the day before Bowie’s 69th birthday) and got to say hello to Tony in person. What a lovely, friendly, wonderful man (not to mention tremendous producer and musician!).  The show was fantastic.

A few days later Bowie was gone. On January 22, still in shock,  five friends and I (two from Maine and three high school ones from my home state of Massachusetts) met for dinner in Boston before going to see the Holy Holy show at the Wilbur Theater.  These tickets were purchased months earlier. I was half expecting that show to be cancelled and we would have absolutely understood if it had.

The six of us were happy to be spending time together but the sorrow was palpable. We had lost our hero. We didn’t really know what to do or say. While we were eating who walks in but Tony Visconti accompanied by two other people. They were seated close to us. In a moment of huge uncertainty I walked over and said hello. Before I even got the word out of my mouth it struck me that I probably shouldn’t have. I should have let Tony and his friends be. He had just lost someone very dear to him. I was a random journalist/fan from Maine invading his space.  Tony was so kind and introduced me to his companions. I didn’t say anything about Bowie. I mean what could I say? I was nervous and shaky. I wandered back to my table, my friends unaware of who was sitting so close to us. I managed to whisper to my friend Becky “Beck, that’s Tony Visconti over there.” She couldn’t believe it. And here’s the reason why I’m sharing this story with you now. About 20 minutes later, Tony walked over to our table and said hello to everyone and told us he hoped we enjoyed the show. And if that’s not the classiest, kindest thing ever, I don’t know what is.  Before the show started Woody and Tony came out on stage and talked to the audience for a few minutes, both in tears.  And then the show began and it was an emotional roller coaster but also a magnificent experience of shared grief and immense love for a man and his music.

So about that list…

These songs aren’t really in a specific order except for the first one on it, though it does sort of flow in and out of being chronological. Also, I of course love WAY more than 50 Bowie songs, these are just my absolute favorites.

THE 50 BEST DAVID BOWIE SONGS

  1. Rock ‘N’Roll Suicide
  2. Rock ‘N’ Roll With Me
  3. Heroes
  4. Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud
  5. When I’m Five
  6. The Man Who Sold The Word
  7. Oh! You Pretty Things
  8. Wild Is The Wind
  9. Life on Mars?
  10. Quicksand
  11. Queen Bitch
  12. Five Years
  13. Lady Stardust
  14. Moonage Daydream
  15. Starman
  16. Drive-In Saturday
  17. Panic in Detroit
  18. Time
  19. Lady Grinning Sould
  20. Here Comes the Night
  21. Friday On My Mind
  22. Sorrow
  23. Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family
  24. Fascination
  25. Across the Universe
  26. Word On A Wing
  27. Stay
  28. Breaking Glass
  29. Sound and Vision
  30. Warszawa
  31. Sons of the Silent Age
  32. Fantastic Voyage
  33. Yassassin
  34. D.J.
  35. Boys Keep Swinging
  36. Up the Hill Backwards
  37. Ashes to Ashes
  38. John I’m Only Dancing (Again)
  39. Fashion
  40. It’s No Game (Part 2)
  41. Modern Love
  42. Cat People (Putting Out Fire)
  43. Loving The Alien
  44. Blue Jean
  45. I’m Afraid Of Americans
  46. The Stars (Are Out Tonight)
  47. Where Are We Now?
  48. Lazarus
  49. I Can’t Give Everything Away
  50. Kooks

I would sure love to know what your favorite Bowie tracks are so please comment away here or in the land of social media.

Bonus! Here’s a Spotify playlist of this list!

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/eastcoastaimsel/playlist/0uYl9TjQuzK6fng0OTBH8K

I love you, David Bowie.  Always. Happy Birthday!!!

Ponti out

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Yours truly at the “Bowie Is” exhibit. Chicago, 2014. Photo by Matt Rosen

Aimsel on the Record is sponsored in part by LB Kitchen in Portland, Maine.

 


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3 thoughts on “The 50 Best David Bowie Songs

  1. What a great post. Psyched to have the list/playlist, vetted by someone with such great knowledge of and love for his work. (Ok: I admit most of the songs I haven’t heard: what was I even DOING in the 70s and 80s?) Thanks, AP.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your list! Bittersweet to remember January 22 2016. Here is a list I made of my favorite song from each album, except Black Star and 1966. I made this right after he died, so I might change a couple things if I re-did the list today. It was not easy to choose! I cheated a little with Conversation Piece: it was originally written in ’69, but he re-made it in ’02 and it was a bonus track on Heathens.And Sorrow wasn’t technically on an album, but I couldn’t leave it out!
      Conversation Piece
      Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed
      All the Madmen
      Five Years
      Sorrow
      Panic in Detroit
      Rock n Roll with Me
      Fascination
      Station to Station
      Sound and Vision
      Secret Life of Arabia
      Look Back in Anger
      Up the Hill Backwards
      Ricochet
      Loving the Alien
      Time Will Crawl
      Jump They Say
      Strangers When We Meet
      Through These Architects Eyes
      Seven Years in Tibet
      If I’m Dreaming My Life Away
      Sunday
      New Killer Star
      You Will Set the World on Fire

      Liked by 1 person

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