David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 - 10 January 2016), known under his stage name David Bowie, was an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, arranger, painter, and actor. Bowie was a figure in popular music for over four decades, and was known as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s.
- I always had a repulsive sort of need to be something more than human. I felt very very puny as a human. I thought, "Fuck that. I want to be a superman."
- Quoted in this interview in Rolling Stone #206 (12 February 1976); a slightly altered version of the quote has appeared in various sources such as Fas Ferox - A Modern Day Mythology - World Walkthrough (2006), edited by Anna Young and James Curcio: "I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human. I thought, 'Fuck that. I want to be a superhuman.'"
- I'm an instant star. Just add water and stir.
- I suppose I’ve been knocking on heaven’s door for about 11 years now, with one sort of high or another. The only kinds of drugs I use, though, are ones that keep me working for longer periods of time. I haven’t gotten involved in anything heavy since ’68. I had a silly flirtation with smack then, but it was only for the mystery and enigma of trying it. I never really enjoyed it at all. I like fast drugs. I’ve said that many times. I hate falling out, where I can’t stand up and stuff. It seems like such a waste of time. I hate downs and slow drugs like grass. I hate sleep. I would much prefer staying up, just working, all the time. It makes me so mad that we can’t do anything about sleep or the common cold.
- As quoted in this interview in Playboy magazine (September 1976)
- I get offered so many bad movies. And they're all raging queens or transvestites or Martians.
- 1983 Comment, quoted in Halliwell's Who's Who in the Movies 15th Edition (2003) by Leslie Halliwell, p. 60
- I'm terribly intuitive—I always thought I was intellectual about what I do, but I've come to the realisation that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing half the time, that the majority of the stuff that I do is totally intuitive, totally about where I am physically and mentally at any moment in time and I have a far harder time than anybody else explaining it and analysing it. That's the territory of the artist anyway: to be quite at sea with what he does, and working towards not being intuive about it and being far more methodical and academic about it.
- "Sermon From the Savoy", New Musical Express (29 September 1984)
- I think fame itself is not a rewarding thing. The most you can say is that it gets you a seat in restaurants.
- Interviewed in Q magazine (April 1990)
- Music has given me over 40 years of extraordinary experiences. I can't say that life's pains or more tragic episodes have been diminished because of it. But it's allowed me so many moments of companionship when I've been lonely and a sublime means of communication when I wanted to touch people. It's been both my doorway of perception and the house that I live in.
I only hope that it embraces you with the same lusty life force that it graciously offered me.
- [While filming 'Ashes to Ashes'] So we're on the beach shooting this scene with a giant bulldozer. The camera was on a very long lens. [The camera is along way away, but the artist fills the frame] In this video I'm dressed from head to toe in a clown suit. Why not. I hear playback and the music starts. So off I go, I start singing and walking, but as soon as I do this old geezer with an old dog walk right between me and the camera... Well, knowing this is gonna take a while I walked past the old guy and sat next to camera in my full costume waiting for him to pass. As he is walking by camera the director said, excuse me Mr do you know who this is? The old guy looks at me from bottom to top and looks back to the director and said... "Of course I do!!!! its some cunt in a clown suit." That was a huge moment for me, It put me back in my place and made me realize, yes I'm just a cunt in a clown suit. I think about that old guy all the time.
- Never play to the gallery... Never work for other people in what you do. Always remember that the reason that you initially started working was that there was something inside yourself that you felt that if you could manifest in some way, you would understand more about yourself and how you co-exist with the rest of society... I think it's terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfil other people's expectations.
- Ageing is an extraordinary process... If you are pining for youth I think it produces a stereotypical old man because you only live in memory, you live in a place that doesn’t exist … I think ageing is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person that you always should have been.
- quoted by Aaron Hicklin in "David Bowie: An Obituary"
Livewire interview (2002) edit
- It's odd but even when I was a kid, I would write about "old and other times" as though I had a lot of years behind me. Now I do, so there is a difference in the weight of memory. When you're young, you're still "becoming", now at my age I am more concerned with "being". And not too long from now I'll be driven by "surviving", I'm sure. I kind of miss that "becoming" stage, as most times you really don't know what's around the corner. Now, of course, I've kind of knocked on the door and heard a muffled answer. Nevertheless, I still don't know what the voice is saying, or even what language it's in.
- Strangely, some songs you really don't want to write. I didn't like writing "Heathen". There was something so ominous and final about it. It was early in the morning, the sun was rising and through the windows I could see two deer grazing down below in the field. In the distance a car was driving slowly past the reservoir and these words were just streaming out and there were tears running down my face. But I couldn't stop, they just flew out. It's an odd feeling, like something else is guiding you, although forcing your hand is more like it.
- Heathenism is a state of mind. You can take it that I'm referring to one who does not see his world. He has no mental light. He destroys almost unwittingly. He cannot feel any Gods' presence in his life. He is the 21st century man. However, there's no theme or concept behind Heathen, just a number of songs but somehow there is a thread that runs through it that is quite as strong as any of my thematic type albums.
- I had to resign myself, many years ago, that I'm not too articulate when it comes to explaining how I feel about things. But my music does it for me, it really does. There, in the chords and melodies, is everything I want to say. The words just jolly it along. It's always been my way of expressing what for me is inexpressible by any other means.
What is very enlightening for me right now is that I sense that I'm arriving at a place of peace with my writing that I've never experienced before. I think I'm going to be writing some of the most worthwhile things that I've ever written in the coming years. I'm very confident and trusting in my abilities right now. But I've got to think of myself as the luckiest guy. Robert Johnson only had one album's worth of work as his legacy. That's all that life allowed him.
Song lyrics edit
- All the young dudes
Carry the news
Carry the news.
- If our love song
Could fly over mountains,
Could laugh at the ocean,
Just like the films,
There's no reason
To feel all the hard times,
To lay down the hard lines.
It's absolutely true.
Nothing much could happen
Nothing we can't shake
Oh we're absolute beginners
With nothing much at stake
As long as you're still smiling
There's nothing more I need
I absolutely love you
But we're absolute beginners.
But if my love is your love
We're certain to succeed.
- Absolute Beginners (1986)
Space Oddity (1969) edit
- Ground Control to Major Tom.
Ground Control to Major Tom.
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on.
- This is Major Tom to Ground Control.
I'm stepping through the door,
And I'm floating in a most peculiar way.
And the stars look very different today.
Am I sitting in a tin can,
Far above the world.
Planet Earth is blue,
And there's nothing I can do.
- Space Oddity
- I'm the cream
Of the great utopia dream.
And you're in the gleam
In the depths of your banker's spleen.
The Man Who Sold the World (1970) edit
- In the corner of the morning in the past
I would sit and blame the master first and last.
All the roads were straight and narrow
And the prayers were small and yellow.
And the rumour spread that I was aging fast.
Then I ran across a monster who was sleeping
By a tree.
And I looked and frowned and the monster was me.
- Day after day
They send my friends away
To mansions cold and grey.
To the far side of town
Where the thin men stalk the streets
While the sane stay underground.
Day after day,
They tell me I can go.
They tell me I can blow
To the far side of town
Where it's pointless to be high,
'Cause it's such a long way down.
- Man is an obstacle, sad as the clown
(Oh by jingo)
So hold on to nothing, and he won't let you down.
- Live to your rebirth and do what you will
(Oh by jingo)
Forget all I've said, please bear me no ill.
- After All
- We passed upon the stair, we spoke of was and when
Although I wasn't there, he said I was his friend
Which came as some surprise I spoke into his eyes
I thought you died alone, a long long time ago.
- When all the world was very young
And mountain magic heavy hung
The supermen would walk in file
Guardians of a loveless isle.
Hunky Dory (1971) edit
- Still don't know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild.
A million dead-end streets and
Every time I thought I'd got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet.
So I turned myself to face me
But I've never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I'm much too fast to take that test.
- I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence.
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same.
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations.
They're quite aware of what they're going through.
Turn and face the strange.
- It's a god-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling "No"
And her daddy has told her to go
But her friend is nowhere to be seen
Now she walks through her sunken dream
To the seat with the clearest view
And she's hooked to the silver screen.
But the film is a saddening bore
'Cause she's lived it ten times or more.
- Pushing through the market square, so many mothers sighing
News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in.
News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying
Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying.
- There's a starman waiting in the sky
He'd like to come and meet us,
But he thinks he'd blow our minds.
- Making love with his ego Ziggy sucked up into his mind
Like a leper messiah.
When the kids had killed the man I had to break up the band.
- Ziggy played guitar.
- Ziggy Stardust
- (Hey man) oh leave me alone you know
(Hey man) oh Henry, get off the phone, I gotta
(Hey man) I gotta straighten my face
This mellow thighed chick just put my spine out of place.
- Oh don't lean on me man, cause you can't afford the ticket
Back from Suffragette City
Oh don't lean on me man
'Cause you ain't got time to check it
You know my Suffragette City
Is outta sight...she's all right ...Ah wham, bam, thank you ma'am!
- Suffragette City
Aladdin Sane (1973) edit
- Who'll love Aladdin Sane?
Battle cries and champagne just in time for sunrise.
- Aladdin Sane
Diamond Dogs (1974) edit
- This ain't rock'n'roll. This is genocide!
- You've got your mother in a whirl
She's not sure if you're a boy or a girl.
Hey babe, your hair's alright.
Hey babe, let's go out tonight.
You like me, and I like it all.
We like dancing and we look divine.
You love bands when they're playing hard.
You want more and you want it fast.
- Rebel Rebel, you've torn your dress.
Rebel Rebel, your face is a mess.
Rebel Rebel, how could they know?
Hot tramp, I love you so!
- Rebel Rebel
Young Americans (1975) edit
- Do you remember, your President Nixon?
Do you remember, the bills you have to pay?
Or even yesterday?
- Fame, (fame) makes a man take things over
Fame, (fame) lets him loose, hard to swallow
Fame, (fame) puts you there where things are hollow
Fame, it's not your brain, it's just the flame
That burns your change to keep you insane (sane).
Station to Station (1976) edit
- Don't let me hear you say life's taking you nowhere, angel
Come get up my baby.
Look at that sky, life's begun
Nights are warm and the days are young
Come get up my baby.
- You're such a wonderful person
But you got problems oh-oh-oh-oh
I'll never touch you.
- I, I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins
Like dolphins can swim
- I, I will be king.
And you, you will be queen.
Though nothing will drive them away.
We can beat them, just for one day.
We can be heroes, just for one day.
Scary Monsters (1980) edit
- It's got nothing to do with you, if one can grasp it
More idols than realities, ooh-ooh...
Yeah, yeah, yeah, up the hill backwards
It'll be alright, ooh-ooh
- Up the Hill Backwards
- I've never done good things
I've never done bad things
I never did anything out of the blue, whoa whoa
Want an axe to break the ice
Wanna come down right now
Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know Major Tom's a junkie
Strung out in heaven's high
Hitting an all-time low.
My mama said to get things done
You'd better not mess with Major Tom
- Well, I've been breaking these rocks
And cutting this hay
Yes, I've been breaking these rocks
What's my price to pay?
Well, the river's so muddy, but it may come clear
And I know too well what's keeping me here
I'm just a slave of a burning ray
Oh, give me the night, I can't take another sight
- Kingdom Come
- Because you're young
You'll meet a stranger some night
Because you're young
What could be nicer for you
And it makes me sad
So I'll dance my life away
A million dreams, a million scars
...Left him nearly out of his mind
They're people I know - people I love
They seem so unhappy - dead or alive
- Because You’re Young
- Silhouettes and shadows
Watch the revolution
No more free steps to heaven
Heaven or hearth
Just big heads and drums
Full speed and pagan
And it's no game
- It's No Game
- Theme song for the film Cat People (1982)
- See these eyes so green…
I can stare for a thousand years
Colder than the moon
It's been so long…
And I've been putting out fire…
- See these eyes so red
Red like jungle burning bright
Those who feel me near
Pull the blinds and change their minds.
- Still this pulsing night
A plague I call a heartbeat
Just be still with me
Ya wouldn't believe what I've been thru.
Let's Dance (1983) edit
- Never gonna fall for
Modern love — walks beside me.
Modern love — walks on by.
Modern love — gets me to the church on time.
Church on time — terrifies me.
Church on time — makes me party.
Church on time — puts my trust in God and man.
God and man — no confessions.
God and man — no religion.
God and man — don't believe in modern love.
- My little China Girl
You shouldn't mess with me.
I'll ruin everything you are.
I'll give you television.
I'll give you eyes of blue.
I'll give you a man who wants to rule the world.
- Let's dance — put on your red shoes and dance the blues.
Let's dance — to the song they're playin' on the radio.
Let's sway — while colour lights up your face.
Let's swa —, sway through the crowd to an empty space.
- And if you say run, I'll run with you
And if you say hide, we'll hide.
Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two.
If you should fall
Into my arms
And tremble like a flower.
- Let's Dance
- Let's dance for fear your grace should fall
Let's dance for fear tonight is all
- Let's Dance
- God is an American.
I'm afraid of Americans.
I'm afraid of the world.
I'm afraid I can't help it.
I'm afraid I can't
- Steel on the skyline
Sky made of glass
Made for a real world
All things must pass
Waiting for something
Looking for someone
Is there no reason?
- And there's never gonna be enough money
And there's never gonna be enough drugs
And I'm never ever gonna get old
There's never gonna be enough bullets
There's never gonna be enough sex
And I'm never ever gonna get old
So I'm never ever gonna get high
And I'm never ever gonna get low
And I'm never ever gonna get old
- The tragic youth was going down on me
I've been right and I've been wrong
Now I'm back where I started from
Never looked over reality's shoulder
- Soon there'll be nothing left of me
Nothing left to release
The Next Day (2013) edit
- Where are we now?
Where are we now?
The moment you know
You know, you know
As long as there's sun
As long as there's sun
As long as there's rain
As long as there's rain
As long as there's fire
As long as there's fire
As long as there's me
As long as there's you
- "Where Are We Now?" (2013)
- First they give you everything that you want
Then they take back everything that you have
They live upon their feet and they die upon their knees
They can work with satan while they dress like the saints
They know god exists for the devil told them so
They scream my name aloud down into the well below
- The Next Day (2013)
- In the villa of Ormen, in the villa of Ormen
Stands a solitary candle, ah-ah, ah-ah
In the centre of it all, in the centre of it all
- Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)
- Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now
Ain’t that just like me
- "Lazarus" · Video at YouTube
- This way or no way
You know, I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now ain’t that just like me
- Saying more and feeling less
Saying no but meaning yes
This is all I ever meant
That's the message that I sent
- "I Can't Give Everything Away"
Quotes about Bowie edit
- I met him only once, it was 1973 or 1974. I was the producer of a record of a folk-rock band Steeleye Span. They wanted David Bowie to play a sax solo on one of the songs. I managed to get his phone number, I called him and said 'You don't know me, but some people which album I'm producing ask you if you'd like to play sax for them'. And Bowie asked - 'Okay, where and when?'. I replied - 'Whenever you can'. And he said - '3 o'clock this afternoon?'. I was frightened and thought he'd want 2000£ for that. He came at 3, smiling. He played just like we wanted, never asking about money, then shook everyone's hand and left. It was the only time we met. David taught me one beautiful thing. If you can and want to help somebody, do it for free. That's why I never asked anyone for money. By lending a hand in that way you give just a bit of what you do in your life.
- There is a glimmer of hope in the choice to quote an old song about new beginnings, and it isn't the only moment on the album that suggests a cycle of death and rebirth. Buried in the bleakness of "Blackstar" is an airy, suspiciously earnest passage that imagines the transmigration of souls: "Something happened on the day he died / Spirit rose a meter and stepped aside / Somebody else took his place and bravely cried / 'I'm a black star.'" Bowie nearly became a Buddhist monk when he was 19, and he specified in his will that his ashes should be scattered "in accordance with the Buddhist rituals." It's quite possible that he believed in reincarnation
- Judy Berman, in The 2016 Canon: David Bowie's Blackstar Was Not Just a Final Album—It Was an Omen, Esquire magazine Dec 12, 2016
- David Bowie had everything. He was intelligent, imaginative, brave, charismatic, cool, sexy and truly inspirational both visually and musically. He created such staggeringly brilliant work, yes, but so much of it and it was so good. There are great people who make great work but who else has left a mark like his? No one like him.
- While a majority of posthumous music is released by an artist's estate, David Bowie organized new music to be released after his death himself. Bowie believed in reincarnation, and through the evolution of his many different personas and music styles, he became the king of reinvention. First he was a folk singer, then a glam rocker, next he was a new romantic; He was constantly changing and evolving in both his sound and his look.
- Julia Kai, David Bowie: The King of Reinvention and Reincarnation, Intersect magazine, 9 Feb 2021
- The official David Bowie web site
- Bowie Wonderworld
- IMDb entry on Bowie
- Teenage Wildlife
- Pushing Ahead of the Dame - David Bowie, Song by Song
- The Ziggy Stardust Companion
- The Laughing Gnostic - David Bowie and the Occult
- David Bowie - Outside, Aleister Crowley and the Holy Grail
- The Fall to Earth: David Bowie, Cocaine and the Occult
- List of David Bowie related websites
- David Bowie portraits at the National Portrait Gallery London