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

thumbnail
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.

 


Please contact me if you’re interested in sponsorship opportunities.

Tribute to David Bowie…on my left arm

Today I did something that had been planned for about a year. Today I got a David Bowie lyric tattoo on my left arm.

Here’s the thing; Bowie’s my favorite musician ever and his music is everything to me.

On January 11, 2016 the world found out we had lost him. On January 12, my editor at MaineToday.com/Portland Press Herald challenged me to write about it. At first I resisted because I was so sad I didn’t think I could pull myself together to put together anything cohesive. But I decided it was probably a good idea so I essentially opened up an emotional vein and let it flow out of me. Here’s what it looked like.

I spent the next several days crying off and on but also thinking about some of the incredible Bowie related experiences I was fortunate enough to have enjoyed and slowly started to put myself together. Though it took several months before I could listen to “Blackstar.”

I thought about the time my lifelong friend Matt Rosen and I flew to Chicago for two days to see the “David Bowie Is” exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago on Halloween weekend of 2014. This is the same Matt that slept out on the sidewalk with me outside a record store in Lowell, MA to get tickets to the “Glass Spider” tour of 1987.

IMG_6908
Outside the “David Bowie Is” exhibit in Chicago. 10.31.14. The exhibit was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. An expansive collection of costumes, instruments, personal items and so much more about Bowie. I’ll never forget it.

Soon after that terrible day in 2016 that started off with a phone call from my friend and fellow Bowie fanatic Sarah telling me about DB’s death, my friend Becky Mokos and I decided we were going to get Bowie lyrics tattoos.  Becky and I have been friends since seventh grade. Neither one of us are over losing Bowie and I know we never will be.

About six months ago we decided to set things in motion and began the process of selecting what line we would each decide to get. Many texts were exchanged on this topic. MANY.

Several came to mind all at once because there are SO MANY songs that resonate with me. But after some initial thought, I knew it would have to be one from my favorite album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”

Ziggy Album Cover.jpeg

There isn’t a song on this record that I don’t absolutely adore. Sidebar, while in London in 2007, I tracked down the location of where this album cover was shot and stood on it. It was a truly magical moment at 23 Heddon Street. There’s still a phone booth there (picture on the back of the album of DB standing in it) and although it’s not the original one, it too was full of magic and plenty of Bowie graffiti.

Fast forward to about two months ago. At a surprise birthday party for my friend Lee I started chatting with a woman named Cyndi Lou. Turns out, she’s a tattoo artist and a Bowie fan. Ten minutes into our convo, I knew I had found our artist and texted Becky immediately with the good news.

Cyndi Lou is an artist at Tsunami Tattoo in downtown Portland, ME. The place sort of reminds me of a Buddhist temple and it’s a very special place.

In a word, Cyndi’s awesome. Read more about her here.

Becky and I checked out calendars and reached out to Cyndi and today, April 2, 2017 was the big day.

The song I chose is “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.” I chose it because I’ve listened to it hundreds of times and it still kills me every time, especially the ending. If you’re not familiar with it, take a listen.

Here are some of the lyrics:

Oh no love! You’re not alone
You’re watching yourself but you’re too unfair
You got your head all tangled up but if I could only make you care
Oh no love! You’re not alone
No matter what or who you’ve been
No matter when or where you’ve seen
All the knives seem to lacerate your brain
I’ve had my share, I’ll help you with the pain
You’re not alone…

But it’s the dramatic, final 30 seconds of the song that reach directly into my heart and soul. And so, today I got this line tattoed on my left arm:

gimme your hands ’cause you’re wonderful

Cyndi Lou at Tsunami Tattoo in Portland, ME works her magic
Here’s a shot that Becky took of Cyndi Lou working her magic at Tsunami Tattoo

And here’s a shot of it moments after Cyndi Lou finished it. It has to heal but I wanted to share this now because I’m so happy about it.

FullSizeRender (6).jpg

Lest there be any doubt about my love for DB, here’s my license plate.

IMG_7435.JPG

Final words…

I didn’t know how much losing David Bowie would impact me but I sort of feel forever changed. But I also feel so grateful for knowing and loving his music so much. I also really love that Becky and I did this together. BTW, here’s what she had done on her upper left arm and I love it.

Becky DB Tattoo 4.2.17
Becky chose a line from the iconic song “Changes” because she feels the line really captures the essence of what Bowie meant to the world.

At this moment, the sun is starting to do down and my arm is stinging just a little. When I look down on it, it fills my heart up. I needed this tattoo and needed it to be this exact line in this exact location so I can see it all the time.

When music is the most important thing to you, you sometimes go to great lengths to do something some might consider extreme. As for me, I did what I did today without hesitation and with my heart full of love for David Bowie and what his music means to me.

GIMME YOUR HANDS ‘CAUSE YOU’RE WONDERFUL.

AMEN.