Sunday, January 8, 2012

Old Man Bowie

David Bowie is 65 years old today.

Helloooo, senior citizen. MM-mm-mm.
I've got it bad for Bowie, and have since 1983, when I first heard the amazing crescendo "Twist and Shout"-esque intro to "Let's Dance" on the radio. From being that weird guy who sang "Space Oddity" and "Fame," he became my musical and stylistic obsession for the rest of my high school years and beyond. Also, I found him totally hot. I'm pretty sure Mr. Bowie was the guy who made me realize that rock stars could inspire more than puppy-dog crushes in young girls. Because, you know...damn.
Let me music-geek for a second here. I mentioned that intro to "Let's Dance," right? Well, there's another moment in that song - in the bridge, the line "If you say run, I'll run with you" - with the most amazing Ab-Db-Eb chord change. It hit me flat in the gut, that sequence. Those two bits in that song dragged me headlong in Bowie's oeuvre. I had to hear more. And the more I heard, the more I had to hear. Because I get that way.

So after I got the Let's Dance album - which, aside from Nile Rodgers' fantastic production and Stevie Ray Vaughan's killer guitar work, is not actually that great - I picked up the landmark The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Which blew my freaking head off. Had I been, say, 14 in 1972 and not four, I totally would have been one of those glam bitches with sparkly eye shadow and platform shoes panting in the crowd at a Bowie concert. At four, that would have been somewhat unusual, I think.

(Here's a fun fact about your humble scribe: In 1983, I was simultaneously obsessed with the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Violent Femmes, and David Bowie. Please imagine how I chose to incorporate those influences into my wardrobe and general demeanor. Trust me, you're not even close to how bizarre it looked. Now imagine what it was like to be that person.)

Anyway, what I discovered is that listening to David Bowie's musical development is like getting a crash course in the past, present, and future of pop music. Not for nothing did they call him a chameleon. His command of musical genres, and his ability to transform his influences into a multi-media image circus that makes Lady Gaga look like a total pretender, remains pretty much unmatched. And holy crap, was he hot.

Christ in a sidecar, look at that.
I'm going to put together a little list of my favorite David Bowie songs. It's tough, because one tends to remind me of another, and another, and pretty soon I'm just telling you to buy all of his damn albums up to the late 80s. Which you should, by the way. But if you just want a little mixtape-playlist (sort of in some pleasingly sonic order), try these. And of course, add a chorus of "Happy Birthday" for the old guy.

"Station to Station"
"Five Years"
"Life on Mars?"
"Ziggy Stardust"
"Scary Monsters"
"The Man Who Sold the World"
"Watch That Man"
"Drive-in Saturday"
"Diamond Dogs"
"The Width of a Circle"
"Sound and Vision"
"Teenage Wildlife"

P.S. Also, happy birthday to Elvis, who, if he had lived...would probably be dead by now.


  1. I just LOVE bowie and he is getting better year after! 10!

  2. He is like a wine, he gets better with age ... 65 and sexy


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