The Best David Bowie Songs of All Time. Now it does not get more poignant than this one. Bowie’s birthday is 8th January. He would have been 74 years old this year. The fact that he passed away two days later five years ago is still heart-wrenching. It’s no exaggeration to declare that Bowie is one of my favourite artists and his art will certainly live forever.
Bowie never kept still creatively and he believed in himself and his music. Back in the 1960s, the young David Robert Jones would face failure after failure as he tried desperately to attain pop success. It was not until the turn of the decade that he finally hit paydirt before becoming one of the most influential musicians of the 1970s and beyond.
So, the Best David Bowie Songs of All Time. You know the drill, these twenty tracks are probably my favourite Bowie songs and the secret of their longevity lies in the fact that Bowie followed his muse with a passion. Always artistically restless, he never quite kept still, especially in the 1970s. Even though Bowie became a superstar in the 1980s and he never quite matched the greatness of the earlier decade, the magic of his music still resonated.
Without much further ado – the Best David Bowie Songs of All Time.
“Station to Station” (Station to Station, 1976)
We covered this masterpiece in a recent rock classics post so check that out.
“Life on Mars?” (Hunky Dory, 1971)
Famously a riposte to being rejection for his lyrics for Sinatra’s “My Way”, there’s no doubt in my mind which is the superior song. Mick Ronson’s stellar arrangements and Rick Wakeman’s piano playing seal the deal.
“Where Are We Now?” (The Next Day, 2013)
Bowie’s amazing comeback of 2013 began with this song, which took everyone by surprise – nobody had even known he had been recording again. Heartfelt and somewhat foreshadowing his own demise. “As long as there’s me, as long as there’s you”.
“Heroes” (“Heroes”, 1977)
Always the album version, nothing else will do. Still sounds like something ripped from the future, even today. “We can be us, just for one day”
“Teenage Wildlife” (Scary Monsters and Super Creeps, 1980)
Bowie rewrites “Heroes” and delivers a commentary on fame and stardom, with one of his finest vocal performances.
“Space Oddity” (David Bowie, 1969)
Bowie’s first hit – influenced by 2001 : A Space Odyssey, Apollo 11 and Syd Barrett.
“Win” (Young Americans, 1975)
Bowie takes on blue-eyed soul and funk in the mid-1970s with astonishing results.
“Fantastic Voyage” (Lodger, 1979)
Another memorable ballad, with potently relevant lyrics. “And the wrong words make you listen in this criminal world” could have been written in 2021! Amazing.
“I Can’t Give Everything Away” (Blackstar, 2016)
Only Bowie could have released an album about his own death, two days before his actual demise. An artist to the very end, and this was the last song.
“Loving the Alien” (Tonight, 1984)
The standout track of this rather weak album. A insightful treatise on religion. Brilliant.
“Absolute Beginners” (Single, 1986)
Written and recorded for the Absolute Beginners film soundtrack, this single is certainly a grower. Nuanced.
“Thursday’s Child” (‘hours…’, 1999)
A disappointing album that received mixed reviews at the time of release. But probably needs to be revisited, especially for this worthy effort.
“The Man Who Sold the World” (The Man Who Sold the World, 1970)
A song that was re-invigorated in the 1990s when Nirvana covered it on MTV Unplugged. Still the highlight of Bowie’s underrated third album.
“Speed of Life” (Low, 1977)
A rare jaunty instrumental from Bowie, one that certainly pre-figures much of the new music of the 1980s.
“Starman” (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, 1972)
Most everything off Ziggy Stardust is essential but “Starman” is practically Bowie repeating his “Space Oddity” formula. A rock ’n’ roll classic that steals from “Over the Rainbow” sneakily!
“Jean Genie” (Aladdin Sane, 1973)
A rollicking number that let Bowie ride the glam rock wave.
“Rebel Rebel” (Diamond Dogs, 1974)
Bowie’s kiss-off to glam rock – the best song the Stones did not write.
“All the Young Dudes” (written in 1972 for Mott the Hoople)
Never originally intended by Bowie for self-release, this studio version was ultimately released in the 1990s.
“Under Pressure” (Single, 1981)
A collaboration with Queen that was famously ripped off by Vanilla Ice! Iconic!
“Wild is the Wind” (Station to Station, 1976)
The only cover on this list, notable once more for another dynamic vocal performance from Bowie.
There you go, the Best David Bowie Songs of All Time. A playlist to celebrate the musical genius of the great man on the day of his birth. BOWIE FOREVER!!!
… still there’s more …