Good lord, yes, today, Monday, is the day David Jones, aka The Thin White Duke, aka Ziggy Stardust, turns 60 years old. David Bowie at 60, who would've imagined it?
For years now, Bowie has perched high at the top of my favorite musical artists list. I first got into Bowie in the hydrogen-peroxide hairdo era of "Let's Dance" and "China Girl," then sometime around 1989 got his Changesbowie greatest hits cassette, which blew my mind like few albums since (spanning from the dreamy nihilism of "Space Oddity" to the top-40 bop of "Blue Jean" on one slim tape). To varying degrees of obsession, Bowie's been tops of my pops ever since. Today I've got every Bowie album of note and a healthy stack of bootlegs to add up to more than 50 CDs, far more than any other artist in my CD closet.
I think what I demand most from a musician is change, the ability to come up with new angles and new ways of showing us the world. "Space Oddity" and "Warszawa" and "Little Wonder" barely sound like they're from the same planet, let alone by the same man. Bowie is the king of that chameleon mutation.
I decided to mark Mr. Bowie's 60th by listing my Top 25 David Bowie Songs of All Time, "High Fidelity" style. In flicking through the Bowie CDs in my collection, it was like finding familiar old friends again. My final tally is a scattered list, some popular faves, some lesser-known tracks. I've long settled on Bowie's "Berlin" era, roughly 1976-1980, as my favorite part of his career, though I've also got a soft spot for the "electronica" Bowie comeback of the late 1990s' Outside and Earthling albums. His earliest hippie-dippy stuff never did much for me ("The Laughing Gnome"? Egad), and even Hunky Dory I have to be in the right frame of mind to dig. But the sprawling diversity and creativity of Bowie's nearly 40 years of music still amazes me, and every new Bowie album remains worth buying to me.
It's fair to say my top 25 could be totally different tomorrow; that yours is likely entirely another kind of list. But that's the Beauty of Bowie – there's as many Bowies as there are songs out there. What are your favorite Bowie songs?