I haven’t done a full-career deep dive of David Bowie, but I did spend three weeks in 2016 exploring his catalog following his death.
Among the albums I featured was 1974’s Diamond Dogs, an ambitious record that paired Bowie’s glam rock style with a grungier aesthetic inspired by the Rolling Stones. Best known for ‘Rebel Rebel’ and the title track, the album sold well despite mixed reviews.
One of the most rewarding deep dives I’ve done on the blog was of David Bowie, back in 2016 a few months after his death. I didn’t cover all 25 of his studio albums, but I did get to the 15 with the most acclaim and/or notoriety.
Because I hadn’t yet joined the streaming revolution at the time, I wound up buying the Bowie albums I didn’t already own, and as a result they now form a decent sized chunk of my increasingly outdated iTunes collection.
Here’s a track from David Bowie’s 1970 album The Man Who Sold the World. When I wrote about this album during my 2016 Bowie deep dive, I said it sounded like a White Stripes song recorded five years before Jack White was born.
What I didn’t say at the time was that hard-edged guitar sound was courtesy of Mick Ronson, who is also believed to be the writer of this song, despite Bowie getting sole credit in the liner notes.
Continuing the chronological presentation of my 25 favorite songs…
‘Life on Mars?‘ – David Bowie (1971)
This is the first of six songs from the 70s to make my list (tying that decade with the 80s for most represented). I guess that makes sense, given that those two decades made up my first 18 years, and isn’t that when music makes its biggest impact?
That’s one theory, but a deeper dive reveals that half of those 12 songs — including both of today’s featured tracks — didn’t find me until much later. So maybe they were just good musical decades.
‘Song For Bob Dylan’ is a track on David Bowie’s excellent 1971 album Hunky Dory. It’s something between a tribute and a jab at Dylan, one of the biggest music stars in the world at that time.
Dylan was checking out in the early 70s. After producing a string of classic, groundbreaking albums in the 60s, he was releasing gentle country albums Nashville Skyline and New Morning, along with Self Portrait, a collection of odds and ends that was easily his worst work to date.