Bowie Crash Course: The Part of Tens

It’s been the Year of Bowie. Just about a year ago I stood in front of David Bowie and Iman’s Manhattan home and thought hey, I should listen to like all of his stuff. And now I’ve done it – aside from the occasional rough draft, outtake, collaboration, or film appearance, which I’ll gladly continue to fill in, in no particular order, as I go on.


I feel as if I can now award myself a small diploma in Absolute Beginner Bowieology. Maybe even Intermediate Bowieology. At least enough to have graduated from the ‘For Dummies’ level of Bowie Insight. And so, as with every ‘For Dummies’ book, here’s the Part of Tens. There are no actual tens, but are you really going to get hung up on that?

My Fifty(Three) Favorite Songs

Also known as the best Bowie survey playlist ever. Note: MY FAVORITE, not THE BEST, which is how I come to have two songs from Baal and only one from Earthling. Make your own!

My Top Four Films


‘Cause there aren’t even five that I really, truly like, honestly. But these I like a lot. Especially those first two.

1. Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence

2. Labyrinth

3. Basquiat

4. Absolute Beginners

Top Five Hairstyles


Because you know it’s about the style as well as the substance.

1. The hours… era

2. The Hunky Dory era

3. The one that, if it were a song title, would be called King Mod (your shoes are crap)

4. The Ziggy era, natch

5. The Earthling era

Top Nine Music Videos

All the Albums in Order of My Preference

Do I really love Space Oddity more than I love Young Americans? Apparently I do. Links go to my blog post about each album.

Hunky Dory
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
The Next Day
Station to Station
Diamond Dogs
David Bowie
Aladdin Sane
Scary Monsters…And Super Creeps
The Man Who Sold the World
Bertholt Brecht’s Baal
Black Tie White Noise
1. Outside
Space Oddity
Buddha of Suburbia
Let’s Dance
Young Americans
Never Let Me Down
Tin Machine I and II
Pin Ups

Album I Totally Didn’t Expect to Love and Did: Diamond Dogs

Album That Grew On Me: Scary Monsters

Album That I Should Probably Give Another Chance To: “Heroes”

Albums I Feel Bad About Not Liking Better: Earthling, Pin Ups

And Last But Not Least: Top 11 Songs Countdown

Essentially these are all the songs where I could seriously put my mp3 player on ‘repeat track’ and just leave it that way until someone intervened. Worth revisiting anytime.

Here’s a playlist of just these eleven songs.

#11 – ‘Magic Dance’ from Labyrinth

It’s just fun. Quotes Cary Grant, sort of. Plus those tight pants.

#10 – ‘Absolute Beginners’ from Absolute Beginners

Absolutely gorgeous.

#9 – ‘Warzsawa’ from Low

POW: Instant portable cathedral.

#8 – ‘Valentine’s Day’ from The Next Day

The pinnacle of Bowie writing about something horrible with a heartbreakingly beautiful soaring melody.

#7 – ‘New Killer Star’ from Reality

It’s that key-center change – it gets me right here. Plus great instrumentation.

#6 – ‘I Would Be Your Slave’ from Heathen

Heart on sleeve intricate actorly emotion and intellectual challenge to received wisdom. And beautiful.

#5 – ‘Modern Love’ from Let’s Dance

Sheer happiness, plus it’s about religion (no, really).

#4 – ‘I Have Not Been to Oxford Town’ from Outside

I have no idea why I’m so obsessed with this song. I’m obsessed with the way he says “two sheets,” even. It’s like a compulsion out of a past life.

#3 – ‘Soul Love’ from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

I can listen to it dozens of times and still have a little peak experience every time he goes “inspiration have I none….”

#2 – ‘Word on a Wing’ from Station to Station

All the sacred music meets all the popular music in this cri de coeur.

#1 – ‘Rebel Rebel’ from Diamond Dogs

Yeah, it’s the obvious one, but come on: the whole of the 1970s is worth it for this song. Hot tramp, I love you so. You bet.

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