I’ve seen plenty of people memorializing David Bowie. People bidding the man a fond adieu with their thoughts on his best songs, his top hits, things like that. Plenty of remembrances going on, which is cool, because the man touched so many artists’ lives (not just musicians), and left behind countless memories associated with his songs and such, that every one I’ve seen thus far seems remarkably heartfelt.
I mentioned in a piece on Rawckus.com, sharing an anecdote about writing a particularly important short story during senior year in high school, that David Bowie isn’t responsible for me being a pro writer. He isn’t the reason I got into college. He isn’t the reason I hit one out of the park with that tale, largely written to a backdrop of some of his best tunes. That said, the influence he’s been on me as a writer and creator is profound, and so, here you go. My list. Not a Top 10. Not a Best of. or anything close. Just some faves. Songs that, to this day, still get me going when I’m at the keyboard, pecking out a story or screenplay or novel. I hope to give a listen to his final album, Blackstar, in the next couple of days. Who knows? Maybe there are songs in there, new songs, that will have the same effect on me these have for so many years.
Still my favorite Bowie song. I fall in and out of love with a lot of other tracks, but this one stands out just as much today as it did the first time I caught it-and stopped everything I was doing to listen to it finish.
2. Putting Out Fire (With Gasoline)
Theme song to the film Cat People, and, hot as Nastassja Kinski was at the time, still the best part of the movie-even to the 14-year-old kid who couldn’t believe how much skin they were showing. For a horror guy, the line “Those who feel me near, pull the blinds and change their minds” is still one that gets me revved up.
3. Ziggy Stardust
I play a little guitar. While I know about 50 songs I could play on stage if the opportunity presented itself again (the way it did when I played a set live at BackStreets for my Mom’s birthday a while back), I’m an intermediate player at best. This song? I can’t play it. But I love it so much, I keep going back, keep scratching away, keep getting a little bit further. Eventually, I’ll play it, and I won’t regret a single second of the hours it took to get there.
4. Modern Love
One of the tracks that played on loop on my mid-’80s-era cassette “walkman” while writing the aforementioned horror story. (A knockoff, no less). Too many memories associated with this song to count, and when I’m working out or writing and it comes on? I’ll stop and turn up the volume, just like I did back then.and have been doing ever since.
Two kids listening to underground radio late at night and hearing an alien? Sounds like the pitch for an early Spielberg film. When I first heard it, though, that film hadn’t yet been made, but the impact of it still resonates today. That youthful excitement about confronting the unknown without reservation. Just awesome.
6. The Man Who Sold the World
How much imagination can you put into a song? I’m not sure there’s a limit. And I think David Bowie never worried about the question in the first place, which is why songs like my 5 & 6 picks have been faves of mine for so long.
7. Rebel Rebel
I was a teenager, smack in the middle of growing up, when I first heard this one. If you were fortunate enough to be around before the internet and multiplex theatres with 24 screens or 500 cable channels/streaming movies at your fingertips, and spent your weekends at friends’ houses with a boom box and a lot of homemade mix tapes, you’ll understand. If not? Sorry, you missed out.
8. Rock ‘n Roll Suicide
The only down side to this song is how short it is. Things you learn to live with when an artist releases so much good stuff in a lengthy career, even if you’re still feeling cheated that it’s come to an end.
9. Diamond Dogs
For someone who’s never used drugs (no lie), you might not imagine this song placing so high. But it rocks, and growing up and beyond, that was my main
criteria for songs chosen to spend long nights working to. I’d say, so far, it’s paid off.
10. Moonage Daydream/Sound and Vision
I can declare a tie. And why not? I could have listed 50 Bowie tunes and still would have had to make some tough choices down the stretch. But while plenty of songs deserve honorable mention (Young Americans, Absolute Beginners, Changes, Ashes to Ashes), these make my list because of how they make me feel when I’m in the cockpit, behind my desk, banging away on new fiction.
There you have it. Songs with vast crossover influence in and on my life. Listening to WLIR, (a station from my youth that still lives, online), with them playing Bowie tunes all day, I’ve been reminded why these are the ones I’ve settled on. Farewell, David, thanks from one of the many millions who were strangers to you, but who you influenced and made countless memories for.
There’s a star-man waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds.
I think we did meet him. And indeed, he blew our minds.