We are devastated to learn of David Bowie’s passing this morning. Iconic musician, actor, and artist, this man of so very many talents has had a monumental impact on both of us as well as many of our favorite creatives over the decades, and we will no doubt mourn his loss for years to come. Jeremy wrote this beautiful piece yesterday, as we both spent the weekend listening to Blackstar, before hearing of the news.
Late last year, one of my favorite music blogs, Stereogum, re-shared their 2013 blog where they ranked David Bowie’s albums from worst to best. I hadn’t seen the post when it was originally shared but I immediately thought, after reading the article, that it was finally time to dive deep into Bowie’s discography, which, for the most part, I hadn’t really experienced. I had always been a fan of his music but really could’t recall if I had heard anything beyond some of his most famous albums such as The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Space Oddity, Low, Station to Station, and Hunky Dory.
So I finished the post, fired up Spotify, and started on a personal goal of trying to get through his 24 albums before the release of his latest due out in early January.
This was in November and, needless to say, I didn’t even come close to finishing his massive body of work by the start of the new year. This wasn’t due to time or even being distracted by other albums. I didn’t reach my goal because I couldn’t move past his early material. It was so good that I found myself obsessively listening to those first eight albums as though my life depended on it. Some of them were old friends while others were somehow skipped amidst all of the music I’ve heard over the last thirty years. I recognize now that my neglect for these releases is something I’ll never get over and now cannot imagine a world where I hadn’t ever heard them in the first place.
So here we are in January and I can now say that I’ve finished every album through 1980 and that Bowie just released his 25th album, Blackstar, on his 69th birthday on Friday. Blackstar could easily break the top 5 albums I’ll hear this year. Seriously, I highly doubt very many albums will compete with its brilliance and I can already tell that I’ll be returning to this release more than most things I will hear this year.
It is incredibly experimental, even for Bowie, and weaves this incredibly dark and twisted narrative where he seems to be contemplating his confliction with boredom, awareness of his own mortality, and with his trademark obfuscation of any deeper message hidden behind the character he often plays on his albums. It is a post-punk jazz album influenced by the modernity of electronic music with a saxophone leading the instrumental hooks steeped in the anthemic rock glory that only Bowie was capable of doing 40 years ago.
Blackstar is uniquely Bowie without a hint of him making any misstep. As you are probably aware, Bowie doesn’t repeat himself so it isn’t a return to form but, hopefully, an evolution into a new era of influential music.
After 69 years and 25 albums, Bowie has remained relevant and, quite possibly, the most important musician of our time. Thinking on all of the bands and artists that have been around as long as him, I struggle to think of any other artist that has been as consistent and groundbreaking as Bowie. He’s an artist that needs no introduction and someone who’s influence is best told through his music.
Below you’ll find a selection of five of my favorite songs by Bowie and a link to listen to his new album in Spotify. The songs aren’t deep cuts but great representations of what I think Bowie is capable of doing.
“Life on Mars”
“Word On A Wing”
“I Can’t Give Everything Away”
I couldn’t leave this post without giving you the list of my five favorite Bowie albums. All images link to the corresponding Spotify playlist.
1. Station to Station
3. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust
4. Hunky Dory
What is your favorite Bowie song, album, or other creative accomplishment? Let us know in the comments as we remember him today.
“We could steal time, just for one day / We can be heroes, forever and ever / What’d you say?”
Rest in peace, Ziggy.