David Bowie, the Starman whose musical career spanned six decades and touched countless fans, died yesterday, Jan 10, peacefully surrounded by family after an 18-month battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.
As the world reacts in shock and dismay after losing the one-of-a-kind pop star and musical auteur, words don’t seem enough to convey the utter void left in his loss. So, I’m spending the day instead being immersed in the rock and roll bliss he left behind for the world. Here are five essential David Bowie songs to get lost in.
I don’t know why, but when I read the news this morning, the first thing that came into my head was Bowie’s whispering at the beginning of “Queen Bitch,” the first Bowie song I can remember hearing and remember playing endlessly. It’s been stuck in my brain ever since.
I could have made a list of just the spacey songs Bowie recorded in the 70s and as Ziggy Stardust, from “Life on Mars” to “Starman.” I’m listening to them all today, but for some reason “Space Oddity” is the one that is making me cry. Truly, the stars look very different today.
“Let’s Dance” is a classic. This song and Bowie’s “Modern Love” always make think of being a child listening to the radio in the 1980s. Hearing it now takes me back to that feeling of innocence and wonder. Brilliant.
Born out of a jam session between Bowie and rock legends Queen, “Under Pressure” is officially one of Queen’s most popular songs, though Queen guitarist Brian May told Mojo magazine in 2008 that, “David took over the song lyrically. It’s a significant song because of David and its lyrical content.” I couldn’t agree more.
Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, came out just two days before his passing. It’s been confirmed by producers to be Bowie’s farewell opus, as the songwriter apparently knew his end was near. That makes the lyrics and content of his final video, “Lazarus,” all the more potent. The autobiographical dirge opens with the line “Look up here, I’m in Heaven” and ends with a chorus of “Oh I’ll be free, ain’t that just like me?”
Rest in Peace, David Bowie.
It’s a dark day for punk rock, as news broke earlier that the former New York city music club CBGB, famed for their pioneering punk shows, is being transformed into a themed airport restaurant. While that atrocity sets in, take back a bit of your punk rock side with a seasonal selections of Xmas tunes done by hardcore legends.
The Ramones – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”
A staple at the late CBGB, the Ramones cut to the quick in this punk rock Cristmas classic. SImple hooks, effortless vocals, this 1989 song is a favorite punk anthem every holiday season.
The Vandals – “Oi! to the World”
I love the Vandals. They’re fun and messy and celebratory, and the band here offers up the ultimate drinking anthem to toast the holiday. Jingle bells back the hardcore riffs in a silly, but sing-along inducing hit.
The Damned – “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause”
Inspired by a Marx Brothers line and deliberately tongue-in-cheek, this 1980 release from UK punk pioneers the Damned is decked out with jangly guitars and a shimmering tamborine. Old St Nick even makes a cameo at the end.
Fear – “Fuck Christmas”
Impact – “Punk Christmas”
Little known Welsh punk rock band Impact only released one album as far as I can tell, a Christmas album. Fast as Hell, fun and punchy, this one’s a spirited gem.
Merry Christmas, punks!
You’ll notice Top 5 Movies & Music in Guerneville for their large “Adult DVDs $5.00″ banner outside, but do take note of their smaller sign also announcing used cassettes, CDs and LPs.
Stopped by there on the way back from an interview (Dear Interview Gods, can we schedule for the oceanside full-time from now on?) and flipped, flipped, flipped my way through piles of LPs. Heavy on weird disco 12″s and private-press Christian records. I know, I know. You’re laughing now, but I’m serious as a newscaster in Haiti when I say that’s what the cratediggers are after these days.
Cratediggers—that subspecies of record collector, the producer usually out for DJ breaks—have a knack for presaging trends in music. Naturally, their current fancies are what starts showing up at the clubs. What shows up at clubs makes its way into the mainstream fairly fluidly. Three years ago the cratediggers honed in on obscure, early 1970s Manhattan disco—hello, Lady Gaga.
The Christian thing is harder to understand unless you know the collector’s mind, which says, “I will reappropriate this historically cast-aside sect of garbage art into something dope by immersion, education, curation and enthusiasm.” In other words, creating a fetish out of crapola.
But back on topic: If you’re in Guerneville and itching to puzzle over unusual and cheaply priced disco LPs—I took a $2 chance on a record by Voyage, and found this gem—Top 5 is your place. I guess some people call it “Tops” because the sign is hand-painted and the 5 looks like an “S.” Ah, lovable Guerneville.