Top Five Tuesday :: David Bowie
In honor of David Bowie’s 66th birthday, and because I am so excited at the arrival of a new single and the promise of a new album soon (and please a tour, please, please, please), David Bowie is this week’s Top Five Tuesday featured artist. This one was rough on me, so very rough, as I have spent years of my life loving Bowie songs, but after careful consideration and lots of hair-pulling, the following are my top five favorite Bowie songs (please share your favorites in the comments!):
5. Suffragette City
“Ohhh, wham bam thank you ma’am!”
The first time I heard this song, and I mean really heard it, was at a 70’s music themed club in Hollywood in the very late 80’s, and that line right there quoted above shook me up in the very best of ways. Here was a young woman trying desperately to break out of her parochial school chains and valedictorian reputation, try on some freedom and attempt to embrace her sexuality, and this song comes in to her life like a lover, like a stolen kiss, like a one-night stand. This song was my ticket to a brand new life, for better or worse, in that late night kind of city.
4. Five Years
“I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour,
drinking milk shakes cold and long,
smiling and waving and looking so fine,
don’t think you knew you were in this song.”
I am a sucker for post-apocalyptic future stories and tales of the end of the world, not so much because I am a pessimist or a fatalist, on the contrary I have quite a hopeful and optimistic soul, but because I find the social commentary and the tales of humanity at its vulnerable core deeply fascinating; this song captures the varying reactions of people faced with a pending end of the world, and touches on the complexities and varying ways that our human nature is revealed. Also, as a writer I have always loved the above quoted lyric because it reminds me of people in my life that I have written about, even at times passer-bys and nameless faces in a crowd that I have given a story to, the great thievery of writing.
3. Life on Mars?
“But the film is a saddening bore,
for she’s lived it ten times or more..”
This is one of those songs that get to me on a deep, visceral level and not on a literal, surface one. I do not know, nor wish to analyze, what the lyrics meant to Bowie, I just know how they make me feel, and what kind of emotion they bring out in me (powerful emotions, heart-pounding, chill-inducing ones). This feels like the story an aging woman is telling to those around her who refuse to listen, as she sits and watches all those around her repeat her mistakes, again and again, hoping for a new result, or a new place to go (like Mars, perhaps?).
2. Space Oddity
“Tell my wife I love her very much,
The line above is one of the most romantic, and in equal parts most heartbreaking lyrics I have ever heard, and I love it so very much. This song, and this story, lives in the musical confines of my soul and is one of my favorite storytelling songs ever. I have vivid memories, many of them, of singing-a-long to this song with others, at different times of my life, and in different places, but all of the memories are meaningful to me.
1. Heroes (live)
you can be mean,
I’ll drink all the time.
‘Cause we’re lovers,
and that is a fact,
yes we’re lovers,
and that is that.”
Anyone who knows me well will tell you that this is one of my all-time favorite songs, and that I nearly glow with bliss whenever I hear it play unexpectedly. It is one of my lifetime soundtrack songs that means the world to me in ways and means that I have no words to express, at least not words worthy of describing how much it means to me. I once wrote an entire film to this song, in my head, that I hope someday I will pull out and write down, even if it just is that, there on paper, one day.