Ten Underrated David Bowie Songs From His Early Career
RIP, David Bowie: The iconic rock legend passed away January 10 in New York after a battle with cancer.
David Bowie always epitomized what it means to be a true musical chameleon. Some artists evolve. Bowie transformed. From his beginnings in the late-‘60s as a fair-haired folkie to his drag-queen persona, on to his iconic role as Ziggy Stardust and the androgynous guise he adopted early on, through to his roles as the Thin White Duke, a cool
Along the way, the iconic rock legend offered any number of classic songs, music that made an indelible mark in the modern rock firmament. As we look back on the glittering expanse of his career, inevitably there are those tracks that fell below the surface — overlooked, unappreciated, and paling by comparison. In honor of David Bowie, who passed away yesterday, January 10, at the age of 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer in New York, we present to you a list of ten songs that may have been
1. "Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud" — Man of Words, Man of Music (1969) AKA Space Oddity (1972)
An early example of Bowie in a more abstract and expansive mode, the meaning of this song is somewhat ambiguous — hardly a surprise, considering the fact that Bowie’s neo-folk musings were an essential part of his early designs. Originally the B-side to his single “Space Oddity,” it marked the debut of Mick Ronson as Bowie’s chief guitar foil. The string arrangement, courtesy of erstwhile producer Tony Visconti, is another key element, lending a grandiosity, although the theme of the song is far more insular, having to do with the isolation the introverted young artist was said to have suffered from at the time.
2. "Oh! You Pretty Things" — Hunky Dory (1972)
With its highlighted exclamation point, cooing vocal, and seemingly pandering lyric, “Oh! You Pretty Things” remains one of Bowie’s most overt pop songs, sugary almost to the point of becoming saccharine. It’s little wonder then that Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits chose to cover it, enlisting Bowie to play
3. Life on Mars? — Hunky Dory (1972)
Although it appears to be a song sung from the perspective of someone pondering life in outer space, thereby creating a thematic link between “Space Oddity” and the subsequent emergence of Ziggy Stardust, in truth, its origins are far more muddled. Try to follow along with the explanation offered by Wikipedia: “In 1968 Bowie wrote the lyrics 'Even a Fool Learns to Love,' set to the music of a 1967 French song '
4. "Moonage Daydream" — The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972)
With its stirring refrain and defiant call to arms, “Moonage Daydream” deserves to be called one of the standout songs from its parent album, even though other tracks were played more frequently and gained greater notoriety. Originally released under the
5. "Hang On to Yourself" — The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972)
Another grabbing and engaging extract from the Ziggy songbook and one that boasts one of its most relentless refrains, this song cautions listeners to keep their wits about them as Ziggy and the Spiders prepare to tackle the coming apocalypse. Like “Moonage Daydream,” it was originally recorded by Bowie and his band Arnold Corns, and then remade for Ziggy Stardust. An excellent example of Bowie in his glam-rock mode; it’s both compelling and compulsory.
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