David Bowie is dead.
But I don’t feel it. I didn’t feel it when Lemmy died last month. Or Lou a couple of years ago, or Trish in 2011, or even Dime in 2004. I don’t feel it because I don’t have to. Because they are still here singing to me, calming me down, and clearing my head when I can’t take the clutter anymore. This is our consolation prize just for being fans: we don’t have to feel it. How could David Bowie be gone when I can hear him playing, right now, in this room?
When everything has already been said about an artist’s life and talents, I find that it’s best to start talking about yourself and your personal relationship with the music. We all have our favorites. Let’s start with mine.
Hello, my name is Davis and my favorite David Bowie album is Hunky Dory. Let me tell you why (I suggest that you listen along with me):
I skip the first track. I don’t feel that it’s necessary to ever hear that song again.
Then “Oh, You Pretty Things” meanders into the room. It winks at me with a cartoonish ragtime piano while it makes me breakfast. It flips my fried egg and when the yolk breaks, EUREKA! The chorus explodes and the album has officially begun. Now I’m the one making breakfast for every woman I have ever loved—all at once. They’re all laughing at me because I mumble the verses and scream the chorus. I’ve never bothered to learn the lyrics but that doesn’t really matter. They’re probably about evolution, or the advent of plastics, or some weird shit like that.
I have always assumed that “Eight Line Poem” was the second finale to “Oh, You Pretty Things.” I’m going to continue assuming that.
We move on to “Life on Mars.” Mars is by far my favorite planet, so this is the point in the album when I start to pay attention.
“I know that it’s not really about Mars. He’s quoted, ‘she’s being told that there’s a far greater life somewhere, and she’s bitterly disappointed that she doesn’t have access to it’. Again, I know that Bowie is not literally saying that she is disappointed to be denied access to the planet Mars. But I am disappointed that I was not born into an age when space travel has advanced to the point that I can travel to and fro Mars; even while knowing that Mars is infested with giant spiders.”
I bet you’re wondering why that last paragraph is in quotations. It’s an excerpt from a research paper I wrote in my high school Astrology class.
“Kooks” is not a Monkeys cover. Skip.
“Quicksand” and “Andy Warhol” are my second and first favorite David Bowie songs, respectively. Apparently there’s a song between them on the album but I’ll never have the patience to wade through it.
“Quicksand” is one of my lighthouse tracks. It steers me away in times of self-fulfilling panic. It can be useful in many situations such as: uncomfortable conversations with family members, unobtainable job interviews, breakups, reminders of my own mortality, pot freak-outs, hangover guilt, and a myriad of hallucinogen-induced tailspins. The lyrics might seem counter-productive in times of emotional turmoil but for some strange reason the way he sings, “Don’t believe in yourself, don’t deceive with belief. Knowledge comes with death’s release,” sends me to some soft, dreamy place. Try it sometime.
“Andy Warhol” is an amazing song. It is one of my favorite songs. I put it on at parties and I put it on mixes and I drunkenly try to explain why it’s so damn good. I tell them how important the lyrics are and how interesting the guitar style is. I beg on behalf of this song. I preach this song. And nobody ever gives a shit.
There are some things in this world that I will never understand.
That leads us to the end of the album. It’s not really the end of the album but I always end up playing “Warhol” three or four times before I start the album over or move on to something new. The rest is something about Bob Dylan and a Lou Reed cover that isn’t a Lou Reed cover. The last song is good but I usually forget about it.
And that’s it.
But that’s not it. I apologize. I lied. I do feel it. Bowie is a giant name on a long list of artists that I wish could have lived forever. I would have happily followed his freaky tale of mind-expanding culture mutations until the day that I died and joined him in the next world — if there is a next world. I hope there’s a next world.
Jesus. I’ve done it again. Time to listen to “Quicksand” on repeat.
David Bowie died on January 10 2016 at 69. Bowie died from liver cancer two days after the release of his album, Backstar.
If you have a favorite David Bowie song or album, let me know what is is and why. Let’s honor the man, the myth. After all, he did come all the way from space to save us from ourselves.