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Day 45 | Real Cool World

Songs

Bowie contributed to many soundtracks in the 1980s and 90s, often, as in the case of this example, just a single song. In this case, despite a pretty impressive cast, the movie, Cool World, is fairly obscure. The song is too, probably in part because it is more mainstream than much of what Bowie had been doing for a while…

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Day 43 | Under the God

Songs

Tin Machine marked as stark a reboot of David Bowie as any in a career distinguished by changes. He went from soft to hard, solo to band, dance music to music meant for listening. Most of all he went from Impressionism to complete unsubtlty. Under the God is one of several moralistic songs on Tin Machine that leave little room…

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Day 42 | Never Let Me Down

Songs

I was surprised to learn that this was Bowie's last song to chart in the top 40 of the US Billboard Top 100 charts until Lazarus did late last year. Can that really be? So much great music came afterward, and frankly, while pleasant enough, this one isn't great. It also isn't completely awful. The problem with the album of…

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Day 41 | As The World Falls Down

Songs

This is the only song from the Labyrinth soundtrack that translates as something other than a children's song. It easily could have been a part of one of Bowie's other mid-late 80s projects. Album: Labyrinth Soundtrack Note from 2018: I now disagree with what I wrote in 2016– one of the two versions of the song “Underground” also works on…

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Day 40 | Dancing in the Streets

Songs

What happens when two of the most transformative and influential rock musicians collaborate for the first time? This silly single and video... And it was a huge hit! Nothing profound here but at the end of the day the world is better because this exists.

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Day 39 | Jazzin’ for Blue Jean

Songs

I remember when this 20 minute mini movie, really a short film framing a video, debuted on MTV in the mid-80s. I had not yet entered my full Bowie fandom, but it was an event that I wanted to experience. There's not much else I know like it, maybe Michael Jackson's Thriller video. Yet another innovation. Album: Tonight

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Day 38 | China Girl

Songs

For a long time I assumed this was a heroin song, probably because Iggy Pop did it first and that works with the first few lines. Only recently did I read a reflection on the song pointing out the almost obvious- that it's really about racism. Actually I now think it's more precisely about imperialism. (Bowie is against). Album: Let's…

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Day 37 | The Lady Ga Ga Grammy tribute

Songs

I'm good with this. I understand the time limit and the desire to do a montage, but I am left wondering how she would have done full versions of each song. It would have been nice if she worked in one or two songs from the past 30 years, like say something from his current hit record.

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Day 36 | Saviour Machine

Songs

For President's Day it was either this or Young Americans with its reference to President Nixon. I'll save that for later- this song is actually about a president, albeit a fictional one. This video appears to be fan art but it does a decent job of illustrating the song. Album: The Man Who Sold the World Update (1/7/22): The above…

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Day 35 | Valentine’s Day

Songs

Of course I was going to feature this song today, although it either isn't really about Valentine's Day at all, or it is drawing a connection between the holiday and the concept of a massacre. Other than that word association, there's little subtlety to the song-- it is about a mass shooting carried out by someone named Valentine. Not really…

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Day 34 | The Drowned Girl

Songs

Here it is, the most obscure Bowie song I am likely to include on this list. Bowie did what I think was a BBC production of a play called Baal, by Bertolt Brecht. I have never seen it and am not sure if it is a flat-out musical or simply includes several songs performed by Bowie. In any case, he…

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Day 33 | Fashion

Songs

This song, which is really about politics rather than fashion, is pretty resonant today. Left and right are nothing more than passing fads, like dance moves. One of the memorable elements of the video is a dance move, which I always thought of as a bunny-hop. The move re-appears in the video for Blackstar, but this time performed by living…

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Day 32 | Boys Keep Swinging

Songs

A funny little song that sounds great, has a slightly suggestive title but ironic lyrics, and an iconic video. Album: Lodger

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Day 31 | “Heroes”

Songs

I think of this song as similar to Springsteen's “Born in the USA” in that it is very popular but maybe for the wrong reasons. The quotation marks around the song's name are very deliberate, to convey irony. The characters in the song are not heroic; they are pathetic. The song, however is not! Album: "Heroes”

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Day 29 | Station to Station

Songs

The albums Diamond Dogs, Station to Station and Blackstar each feature long songs that are actually two songs grafted together. In each case this device is intended, I think, to convey transformation. Candidate/Sweet Thing from Diamond Dogs signaled the transition from glam to disco, while Station to Station came out on the other side and telegraphed disco to proto-new wave.…

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Day 28 | Starman

Songs

Starman has been getting attention lately- it will be featured in an Audie Super Bowl ad. Bernie Sanders played it at his Iowa victory rally. It turns up again and again. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou used Bowie music sung in Portuguese as its soundtrack, but used the Bowie original in the trailer. Even the Simpsons used Starman. In…

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Day 27 | Fame

Songs

There's a good argument to be made that all the troubles we've experienced over the past 40 years are because the entire point of human existence was to get to David Bowie lip-syncing Fame on Soul Train. Having accomplished that, the human race has been adrift ever since. Album: Young Americans

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Day 26 | Rebel Rebel

Songs

Rebel Rebel. Although I already knew and liked this song, and knew who David Bowie was, the point at which I came to realize this was a Bowie song was probably the point at which I became a fan. For some reason I previously thought this was the Kinks. That was a looooong time ago. Album: Diamond Dogs

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Day 25 | Sorrow

Songs

Yesterday I mentioned Bowie's cover album, Pinups. He didn't really claim most of the songs on the album as his own, with the exception of this one, which he'd continue to sing concert for years. Not sure why. It's a nice, all purpose song but not especially Bowie-like. Album: Pinups

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Day 24 | Comfortably Numb

Songs

Bowie sings Pink Floyd. I was looking for a video of "See Emily Play," which is my favorite song on Bowie's 1973 all-cover album, "Pinups." Instead I came across this video of another Pink Floyd song, "Comfortably Numb," which Bowie never recorded, at least in the studio. What's heartening about this for me is that I am reminded that there's…

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Day 23 | Panic in Detroit

Songs

One of my very favorite songs. This is another song I like most of all just because of how it sounds, but I also like the chaotic imagery, and the idea that the amidst the chaos and revolution, the song's narrator is looking for "an autograph." Kind of reminds me of politics. Album: Aladdin Sane

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Day 22 | Ziggy Stardust

Songs

Unlike Ziggy, I do not play guitar. But at some point in my life, I will learn how to play the opening chords of this song. And at some point after that l will have the opportunity to play them at a party. And then I will be the Naz. Album: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the…

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Day 21 | Quicksand

Songs

On the three-week anniversary of Bowie's death I offer what was probably his most depressing, hopeless song. There's only way to make this song any gloomier-- sing it as a duet with Robert Smith. (By the way, I think Rosemary Maggiore saw this concert. I still hold it against her that I didn't!) Album: Hunky Dory.

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Day 19 | Crystal Japan

Songs

I'm posting this song as representative of Bowie's many instrumental songs. I've been listening to a compilation of them as background music, but unlike the other songs on the compilation, Crystal Japan didn't originally appear on any album. It was used in a Japanese commercial. Nonetheless it is my favorite of his instrumentals and to me sounds different than the…

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Day 18 | Strangers When We Meet

Songs

Bowie probably never invested so much in a song you probably don’t remember. He first put this on the somewhat obscure soundtrack album, the Buddha of Suburbia, the added a slightly different version to Outside, which mostly had an entirely different feel from the song. He released it as a single, as a video, and included it in the career-spanning…

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Day 17 | Sue (Or a Season of Crime)

Songs

This version of the song was released as the one new contribution to a 2014 compilation album. Since I already had all the other songs, I downloaded this one and... didn't like it. I think I read it would appear on what would be Bowie's next studio album, which lowered my expectations. The year before he came out with the…

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Day 16 | Modern Love

Songs

Rolling Stone polled readers on their favorite Bowie videos, songs and deep cuts and from the polls came up with three top ten lists. It isn't clear if they are presented in order, but Modern Love is first on the video list. Album: Let's Dance

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Day 15 | It’s Hard to Be A Saint in the City

Songs

Bowie usually included one or more songs on his albums that he did not first make famous. He covered the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Cream and many others. This, along with Growin' Up, is one of two Bruce Springsteen covers. This one is for Jesse Jackson. Album: Sound and Vision.

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Day 14 | We Are The Dead

Songs

On the second week anniversary of his passing, I'm choosing another death related song in part to answer a request from Susan. This is from Bowie's abandoned project to make a musical out of George Orwell's 1984. The Orwell's widow put a stop to the project but a few of the songs which make direct reference to incidents or characters…

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Day 13 | Ashes to Ashes

Songs

I read today that Bowie's ashes will be spread in the Catskill Mountains, near his Woodstock home, which is about an hour from where I live. Thus today's song, which comes with one of the handful of early videos that everyone remembers and comes from my overall favorite Bowie album. Album: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps).

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