Joey’s Top 10s: A Spotlight on David Bowie

“David Bowie is one of the great singer/songwriters that music has ever seen (or more aptly, heard).”



David Bowie performing on the ABC music program In Concert, October 1974.


David Bowie is one of the most iconic and instantly recognizable figures in rock history. He is widely known for his variety of “personas,” such as the Thin White Duke and Ziggy Stardust.

In addition to his very successful solo career, Bowie had a starring role in a 1986 cult classic movie called “Labyrinth.” The movie follows the story of a teenager, Sarah, who unwittingly summons a horde of goblins to take her annoying baby brother away.

Bowie plays the role of the Goblin King, Jareth, who gives Sarah 13 hours to solve his challenging labyrinth if she wants her brother back from his clutches.

“Labyrinth” is a musical, but not in one of the “over the top stage play” ways, the songs fit Bowie’s style very well. It is directed by Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, and all of the creatures in the movies are made of puppets.

Bowie is much better known for his music rather than his acting career, and songs such as “Star Man” and “Rebel Rebel” are two examples of his songwriting prowess.

His best song, in my opinion, is “Let’s Dance,” but the full seven-minute version of the song. This track is star-studded, featuring disco guitar powerhouse Nile Rodgers on rhythm guitar and all-time great Stevie Ray Vaughan laying down an amazing solo.

One of David Bowie’s strongest suits is storytelling and mood setting through his music.

Songs like “Life on Mars?” paint surreal images through bizarre lyrics and hypnotic instrumentals and singing. One of my favorite lyrics from the track is, “It’s on America’s tortured brow that Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow.”

I think this is a less than subtle dig at America, saying that one of our most beloved icons is nothing more than a cash cow that personifies American greed and capitalism.

That slight anti-America sentiment is shared in Bowie’s subtlely named “I’m Afraid of Americans.” The song tells the story of Johnny, a seemingly generic American who is in search of soda, women and cars, all the while having his slicked-back hair.

To me, this seems like a picture painted of 1950s Americana, with the greaser hair, the soda fountains and fast cars.

One of the most interesting things about Bowie, as briefly mentioned earlier, are the  personas that he used on stage.

One persona came to be during his “Station to Station” record, especially with the song “Station to Station,” which has the opening lyric, “The return of the Thin White Duke, throwing darts in lovers’ eyes.” This song mentions hard drugs and alcohol, with the Thin White Duke seeming to be a malevolent figure.

Arguably Bowie’s most famous song, “Space Oddity” is one of the reasons why he is considered such a good songwriter.

“Space Oddity” is a truly haunting song and everyone’s worst nightmare, floating in space with no chance of getting home.

This song tells the story of Major Tom, who is in a rocketship, taking off for space, briefly leaving his capsule before getting back in his craft. Then the circuits die, and Major Tom loses connection with mission control, doomed to the fate of floating through space all alone.

All in all, David Bowie is one of the great singer/songwriters that music has ever seen (or more aptly, heard). So many of his songs create a tense and strange atmosphere, but the other portion of his songs are really upbeat, almost disco-esque. He is a musical and cultural icon that should be listened to by everyone.