Bowers & Wilkins PR Shaun Marin shares the ten trackshe turned to on hearing of the death of David Bowie.
The death of David Bowie was a massive shock to many music fans around the world. The death of a celebrity is tricky. Few people know them personally, yet still there is a massive outpouring of grief, often a little out of proportion when compared to the individual’s actual input to society and culture. However, David Bowie ‘s death was different. His place in the pantheon of late 20th/early 21st Century culture seems to be pretty much unanimously upheld.
I am sure like many people your Facebook and Twitter feeds were full of music and remembrances in the days after Bowie’s passing. And it was the variety and depth of the music that people posted that struck me. There are very few artists who have managed to maintain his popularity, quality and relevance throughout five decades. And certainly none who have managed to move with the times, shift genres and above all keep experimenting. Never standing still. Constantly.
So, this isn’t a top ten Bowie tracks, as such a list would be a nightmarish job – what would you do, start with the 100 odd singles and whittle those down before thinking about the deeper cuts? No, instead these are the tracks that I listened to on the day or so after the news. Not including the ones on the radio or people shared on Facebook, but the ones I sought out – a personal list of my favourite Bowie tracks. There’s nothing too deep here, just ten amazing songs spanning (yet not being completely representative of) his breath-taking career. The kind of track listing you might play to your eight-year old son, if you wanted to explain why everyone seemed quite so upset about this particular death. Which is in fact exactly what I did….
How could you not revisit this new track? A wonderful surprise on Friday when the video appeared on Bowie’s 69th birthday; a sad but beautiful farewell two days later when he died. “Look up here, I’m in heaven, I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.” It’s oddly only with hindsight that all the elements make sense.
Once, due to unfortunate circumstances, I lost from my entire record collection in my 20s. The first album I purchased again was Hunky Dorey, so you can imagine that the album got a lot of plays. Therefore, this glorious opening track was the obvious first place I went on hearing of Bowie’s death.
The Hearts Filthy Lesson
Everyone has their own favourite late period Bowie album. For me it was Outside. A blend of Bowie and Eno, a heavy industrial sound and stellar performances from legendary Bowie partners such as Mike Garson on piano and Carlos Alomar on guitar. The choice of Nine Inch Nails as tour partners sums up the sound of this track perfectly. And the track sums up Bowie’s desire to always investigate new directions.
Always Crashing In The Same Car
Low is perhaps the perfect Bowie album. Every track stands on its own – and this is a personal favourite – but as a package there’s something very special about it. This was the first of Bowie’s collaborations with Brian Eno, and the thing that strikes me most is how fresh this sounds considering it was his 11th studio album in 10 years!
Of all the many, many Bowie alter-egos this bisexual alien rock superstar is probably the most instantly recognisable. But even without the stage craft of the performance and the supporting concept album, this is a classic slice of glam rock. And yes, I know there are three Ziggy period songs on this list, but as I said, it isn’t supposed to be a truly representative ‘top ten’.
It’s hard to define Bowie’s most ‘famous’ song, but Heroes certainly has a good shout at the title. Taken from the second of the Berlin trilogy of albums, the powerful story of lovers meeting on the Berlin Wall became an anthem of hope with a wonderful performance at Live aid
A track that is on here as much for this Top of the Tops performance as it is for the song itself. Bowie and Mick Ronson kick start the 70s in a little over three minutes of pop perfection. You can imagine parents all over the UK chocking on their hot coco when this first aired!
Ashes to Ashes
Many major 1970s artists had a terrible 1980s (Neil Young, Dylan, Springsteen come to mind) but Bowie hit the decade running and even set the tone for the new wave and new romantic movements with this cracking tune and highly innovative video. Let’s not forget, the man was more than ‘just’ a musician. He was also, among other things, an actor, an artist, a writer and above all an innovator.
I’ll be honest, my wife made me include this: “You can’t talk to the kids about Bowie without it!” So, here it is. And you know what, forgetting my pretentious teenage self and how it was too poppy for me at the time (it wasn’t The Jam, for starters) it holds up really well. Nile Rogers is a genius, after all.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide
The end of the show live version from Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture. “Not only is it the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do. Thank you.” I don’t think we need to say anything more.