This is our last Dance. (Remembering David Bowie.)

24 Jan

Bowie, 87

David Bowie’s music was the first I listened to in my childhood days – next to Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Michael Jackson and Wham. In the poppish 80’s, it took me a couple of years to fully explore his classic earlier work – but once I got to the Berlin trilogy of LowHeroes and Lodger and the Soul Train era of Young Americans I was never the same.

A big fan in my childhood / early teen days, I so badly wanted to visit Bowie’s Hamburg concert of the ‚Glass Spider Tour‘ promoting the Never let me down album (which I’m apparently one of the few to like until this day) in 1987, but my mother thought I was too young to join the masses. So I stood with my parents in Hamburg’s central park, yelling my heart out, while I couldn’t attend my first concert ever.

Nine years later, I finally got to watch Bowie in 1996 for his Outside tour. It wasn’t his best performance, but the Bowie magic was around every second. I’m glad I had that one concert. I’m not too fond of his experimental phase in the late 90’s (except for Trip Hop-ish Little Wonder), but I loved the two comeback albums in early 2000’s, Heathen and Reality.

If it hadn’t been for the stroke in 2004, this could have been his „September of my Years“-like decade. When Bowie released his reminiscent Berlin album The Next Day nine years later, I already felt this could be some kind of a closing statement, a retrospective of places and stages in his career. Turns out, the long goodbye started there. While going all over Bowie’s records over the past 5 decades, these are my eternal #25.

25. Modern Love. 

The opening track from Let’s Dance. Still modern after 33 years.

24. A better Future

Love the hymnic nature of this track from the Heathen album: ‚I demand a better future‘, repeated three times.

23. Golden Years

The most soulful Bowie ever, performing my favorite track from the incredible Station to Station album at Soultrain. Bonus: Superstrange interview at the start.

22. Where are we now

The beginning of the end – the great retrospective of the Berlin years:
„Had to get the train / From Potsdamer Platz / You never knew that / That I could do that / Just walking the dead / Sitting in the Dschungel / On Nürnberger Straße / A man lost in time / Near KaDeWe / Just walking the dead“

21. Blackstar

What to say. It’s almost unreal and very painful to watch (Lazarus is unbearable) – an 10 minute epic that will never be judged on its own but as a post mortem.  It’s a classical Bowie track that rises to epic proportions  between minute 4:20 and 6:30.  This is how resurrections must sound like.

20.  Zeroes

No one ever remembers this persiflage of Heroes for the Never let me down album – but ‚til this day I can’t help liking it as much as Glass Spider (Mummy come back ‚cos the water’s all gone). One the best first lines: „You’ve arrived in the land of a thousand different names…“

19. The Wedding Song

The happiest Bowie I can ever recall – intro and outro on Black Tie, White Noise. I always thought I want to have this track for my weeding – and then I forgot about this one. But not about Bowie! Let’s dance had its special place at our wedding…

18. The Man who sold the world

Rediscovered this gem like so many of us through the Nirvana cover. Original still a class of its own…

17. Something in the Air

Highly underrated cut form the ‚hours‘ album that sounded like an instant classic back 1999.

16. Thursday’s Child

Epic video and best track of the surprisingly smooth structured ‚hours‘ album foreshadowing the one big theme of his last works: aging.

15. Everyone says ‚Hi‘

Another hidden gem from the Heathen album: Love the sentimental, slightly frustrated tone of this one – „Hope the weather’s good / And it’s not too hot / For you /  Everyone says ‚Hi'“

14. Never let me down 

Everyone hates the album, but I don’t agree. At least half of Never let me down offers some of Bowie’s best pop efforts even though this ’87 release had not been nearly als successful as predecessors Tonight and even Let’s dance. Or maybe it’s nostalgia talking: It was the first Bowie album that I impatiently awaited in my teenage days…

13. Sound & Vision

My second missed chance to see Bowie perform in Hamburg: In 1990, Bowie retired his 60’s/70’s back catalogue with this ‚Greatest Hits‘ tour. Tickets sold out in a couple of minutes, though. What stuck on my mind was this hymnic title track of the Sound & Vision tour – „Blue, Blue, Electric Blue…“

12. Wild is the Wind

Dramatic cover of the 50’s smash by Johnny Mathis and a couple of years later Nina Simone from the fabulous Station to Station album, which contains am extended six minute version – such a beautiful arrangement.

11. Buddha of Suburbia

Highly underrated soundtrack song in the summer I graduated. Never watched the movie, but always remember the killer line ‚Can’t tell the bullshit form the lies‘. Lenny Kravitz playing the guitar on this one, btw…

10. Absolute Beginners

One of those first five Bowie songs I listened to when I was a kid. I remember listing to this nonstop on a Hitachi tape recorder while being in hospital. By the time I got out, I was know by the doctors and nurses as ‚the Bowie Kid‘

9. Ashes to Ashes

I was too young for this, but MTV made me catch up quickly – and love this track instantly. Plus: It made more curious about that Junkie Major Tom…

8. Young Americans

My favorite from Bowie’s Soultrain era in New York around the time I was born. This track features two historic performances. One with Cher…

…and the other featuring a background singer, that should turn into of the biggest voices of R&B: That’s right, the first guy in the right corner is no one else but Luther Vandross…

7. Little Wonders

The most modern track in the Top Ten – Bowie discovered Trip Hop and Dub in the mid 90’s. I always thought this one should have been in Trainspotting.

6.  Underground

One of my childhood anthems and first vinyl records.  I was 11 or 12 when it came out along with the Labyrinth movie – which even at that time I found a little weird set-up. (Thanks for reminding, BuzzFeed.)

5.  Heroes 

One of the big epics. I still remember watching „Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo“ in biology class as a preventing example for drug abuse – and defending Bowie to the teacher after confronting the class with Bowie’s own history of drug abuse.  The things you do for your childhood heroes.

4. This is not America

The very first Bowie track to I remember. I  tried to figure out the title and singer for a year or so when being 10 or 11.

3. Let’s Dance

The epic of all epics. This was my favorite track for years and the one big reason I became such a Bowie fan in the 80’s – for all the wrong reasons die-hards of the 70’s might argue. But what gives: I discovered the Golden Years later.

2.  Space Oddity

Like the ultimate Bowie anthem, which I really enjoyed rather late. But the more I do by know. One of the best records of all times. Timeless and pure.

1.  Under Pressure

Still, this one beats everything – even though I was at no time a fan of Queen nor Freddie Mercury. Next to Let’s dance this is the quintessential pop record as Slate pointed out – with the best finish in pop history ever:
This is our last dance.
This is ourselves.

RIP, Starman.

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