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Day 234 | Pictures of Lilly

Songs

I once went to a Woody Allen movie with my father. The movie was so funny that, after it was over, my father said something along the lines of, "that guy should have to make a movie every year." Not for the first time, my father was prophetic because that's just about what Woody Allen does. I felt similar about…

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Day 233 | John I’m Only Dancing (Again)

Songs

Aside from the refrain and part of its name, this song has very little in common with "John, I'm Only Dancing." I've read that Bowie began performing it in 1974, during his shift from glam to disco, and when disco was new and counter-culture. Somewhere along the line he recorded it, but didn't release it until 1979, which was really…

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Day 232 | Growing Up and I’m Fine

Songs

Growing Up and I'm Fine.  This song will sound familiar even if you have never heard it.  It was one of a few songs written by Bowie for Mick Ronson’s first solo album.  Ronson was Bowie’s Ziggy-era guitarist, and you can tell.  This sounds like the Ziggy-era Bowie singing a song from that period.   This clip is supposedly, and…

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Day 231 | Big Brother

Songs

Aside from "1984" this is the song from the Diamond Dogs album most obviously left over from Bowie's project to make a musical out of the Orwell book (Orwell's widow objected). The album is one of my favorites and I have always liked this song both on its own and how it fits in. As a concept album, Diamond Dogs…

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Day 230 | See Emily Play

Songs

See Emily Play.  This Pink Floyd cover is my favorite song from the all-cover album, Pin Ups.  It comes from the old Syd Barrett version of Pink Floyd. This is not the last time Bowie honored Barrett—his very last live performance, posted earlier in this series, was with Dave Gilmore performing “Arnold Layne.”  For me, and I’m guessing a lot…

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Day 229 | Lady Stardust

Songs

As much as this song seems inseparable from the Ziggy Stardust concept, it really started out as a tribute to... you guessed it, Marc Bolan. An early working title for the song was "A Song for Marc," and Bowie performed the song with an image of Bolan projected behind him when the song was new. The figure with the long…

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Day 229 | Eight Line Poem

Songs

This song sounds like a leftover from the Space Oddity album, updated with Mick Ronson’s guitar and Bowie’s higher pitched voice.  For a long time I got the lyrics wrong—I thought there was a line in there about the “key to the city.”  Instead it is as if Bowie entered a room with a cactus, a cat and a mobile,…

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Day 226 | Black Country Rock

Songs

This is Bowie's Mungo Jerry-meets-T-Rex song. I don't think there actually is a place called Black Country Rock, or if there is that this song is about the real place. The song serves as an opportunity for Bowie's new guitarist, Mick Ronson to show off his playing and for Bowie to show off his Marc Bolan imitation. Album: The Man…

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Day 225 | Pepsi Commercial

Songs

This hardly counts as a song, but…it actually is.  Bowie reworked “Modern Love” (including embarrassing new lyrics) into a Pepsi commercial and starred with Tina Turner in what is both a television commercial and a short video. Bowie was not above doing commercials—“Crystal Japan” was written for a Japanese commercial and just a few days ago I posted the Louis…

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Day 224 | Letter to Hermione

Songs

Yesterday I posted a song by Bowie’s short-lived late 1960’s folk trio, Feathers, featuring his then-girlfriend Herimone Farthingale.  She was the inspiration of this and other songs.  Yesterday I mentioned “Life on Mars,” but also, “An Occasional Dream.”  For me, the latter song as well as this one marks a huge leap forward for Bowie, advancing beyond the amateurish and…

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Day 223 | Ching A Ling

Songs

This is what I believe to be the only recorded song from Bowie's late-60s folk trio, Feathers. The song is forgettable except for a few ancillary features. For one, the female singer is Herimone Farthingale, Bowie's first serious girlfriend (who I think later dumped him) and inspiration of the better (and better known) song, "Letter to Hermione" and supposedly "Life…

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Day 222 | Girl Loves Me

Songs

Although Bowie died on a Sunday, I didn't learn about it until Monday morning. I had already been listening to Blackstar repeatedly for the past week or so simply because it was new. As with almost any album, I need to listen to it a few times to determine if I really like it. I was already there with this…

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Day 221 | I’d Rather Be High

Songs

This is one of my favorite songs off The Next Day. It is an anti-war song, somewhat more subtle than Bowie's moralistic Tin Machine songs but somewhat less subtle than, say "China Girl." I particularly like the line, "Just remember, duckies, everybody gets got." Very true. There is what I believe to be an "official" video featuring old wartime footage…

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Day 220 | The Loneliest Guy.

Songs

This song is clearly about someone who lives amidst the debris of a shattered life, but nonetheless is in denial. What's unclear is whether he is literally the last man on Earth. There aren't a lot of words to this song- basically there is a description of a desolate place, which could either be literal or metaphorical, and then there's…

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Day 219 | I’ve Been Waiting for You.

Songs

This Neil Young song is one of my favorite covers recorded by Bowie. Bowie makes the song ominous - the way he sings it, the title and refrain does not suggest so much the relief of Etta James' "At Last" as much as motivation of a stalker. Much like Bowie's original "Be My Wife," there's little hint of his lovers'…

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Day 218 | Be My Wife

Songs

I'm embarrassed to admit that I have lost track of the anniversary of the day I proposed to Michelle. It was some time in August, 2001. I figured I had the date somewhere and I was saving this song for that day, but neither I nor Michelle can definitively track down the day. It is just as well because while…

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Day 217 | Footstompin’

Songs

This song, which Bowie performed live, is actually a combination of the Flare’s 1961 song, “Footstompin”: with a much older song called “Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate.” But the first thing you’ll notice is the guitar riff—the first thing you hear—sounds an awful lot like “Fame.” My understanding is that this came first and influenced the development…

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Day 216 | If I’m Dreaming My Life

Songs

Update: 11/13/23: The original link to the video I posted in 2016 broke, so I replaced it with this interesting video with AI generated images and lyrics. This is a song I might want to revisit, but for now enjoy the innovative fan-made video. Here’s what I originally posted on 8/16/16: The cover of the album, … hours, features Bowie…

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Day 215 | Dead Man Walking

Songs

Like the Earthling album as a whole, I was initially put off by this song because the techno dance music style is a departure from anything Bowie did before, but in time I have come to appreciate it and the whole album as solid and vibrant. I don't think it is actually about anything. I read that Bowie started writing…

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Day 214 | Thru’ Architects Eyes

Songs

Though not especially well known, this is one of my favorite songs on one of my favorite albums. Like most of the songs I like, I start here with how it sounds. There's no point in describing the sound- listen to it and you'll either like it or not. But if you do, there's more here to dig into. Outside…

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Day 213 | Black Tie White Noise

Songs

This well-intentioned but flawed song was inspired by Bowie witnessing the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. Although I’m not sure, I think that contributed to his decision to move to New York. The song combines the moralizing of Tin Machine, this time about race relations, with the plastic soul style of the Young Americans era. To my ears the mix…

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Day 212 | One Shot

Songs

If there is such a thing as an average Tin Machine song, this is it. One review I read characterized this song as, "one of Bowie’s most aesthetically bankrupt records." That's too harsh. It's the kind of song I'd rather have in the universe than not, although it isn't especially memorable or exciting. It also suffers a little by comparison…

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Day 211 | Song: Zion

Songs

This song is so mysterious that nobody is quite sure of its actual name. It is usually identified as an Aladdin Sane outtake and may have actually been given a joke name along the lines of “Aladdin Vein.” It may have been a scratch pad for the song, “Aladdin Sane,” or perhaps for something that appeared on Diamond Dogs. In…

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Day 210 | Prisoner of Love

Songs

The most noteworthy thing about this song is that it got an official video, which is what I’m posting. As best I can tell, the song’s narrator is in love with someone who is vulnerable to being taken advantage of by others. The narrator might be either overly protective or at a point where he realizes his love is blinding…

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Day 209 | Atomica

Songs

I’m posting this song today because it is Hiroshima day, though despite the title and refrain the song really has nothing to do with anything atomic. It is also my sister’s birthday, and she is pretty Atomica! Album: The Next Day Extra Note from 2018: Once again the date is somehow off...Hiroshima day is August 6th, which is when I…

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Day 208 | Zeroes

Songs

As far as I know, Bowie never covered a Prince song, but this song makes a Prince reference: "And me, my little red corvette has driven by..." Sounds like a lament, vaguely like the line from "Teenage Wildlife," "Same old thing, in brand new drag comes sweeping into view." On the other hand, what is he talking about? Often Bowie…

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Day 207 | Shooter Jennings and Marilyn Manson cover Cat People (Putting Out Fire)

Songs

This is the third Bowie tribute cover I have posted in three days and it is definitely the weirdest of the set. I was not previously familiar with Shooter Jennings and Marilyn Manson is not my favorite. Manson did an album a few years ago called Mechanical Animals that was supposedly Bowie-influenced, so I bought it and just didn't hear…

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Day 206 | Ashes to Ashes at the Proms

Songs

Yesterday I posted a pretty unique Bowie tribute—1000 people performing Rebel Rebel. This one is not quite so unique—in fact it reminds me of the Buffalo Philharmonic Bowie show I introduced last week—but it is beautiful. The BBC Proms series is a British classical music concert series. This past week was an episode featuring Bowie’s music set to an orchestral…

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Day 205 | 1000 people perform Rebel Rebel

Songs

Two really interesting recent Bowie tributes have been making the rounds on the internet over the past few days. This one requires little explanation beyond—its 1,000 people performing Rebel Rebel!

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Day 204 | Underground

Songs

This is one of the songs from the Labyrinth Soundtrack that can stand completely on its own without any connection to the movie. I have read that this song counts as “gospel,” which I think is an overstatement, however the backup vocals (sung in part by Cissy Houston, Chaka Khan and Luther Vandross) sound gospelly. I like the song, and…

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