David Bowie Picks His 12 Favorite David Bowie Songs: Listen to Them Online

Admit it, your list of favorite Bowie songs is full of the big hits. Hell, maybe it’s all hits; there’s no shame in that. Dig­ging deep into the crates will yield many an over­looked sur­prise, many a sub­tle sleep­er, cut-up clas­sic, and elec­tron­ic exper­i­ment. But if all you’ve got is Changes­bowie—the 1990 com­pi­la­tion that became, for some gen­er­a­tions, a defin­i­tive state­ment of his career—you’ve still got a col­lec­tion of songs the likes of which have nev­er been heard before or since in mod­ern pop.

Com­pletists may grouch, but even res­i­dent Bowie scholars/local record store clerks have an “Ash­es to Ash­es,” “’Heroes’,” “Changes,” or “Mod­ern Love” in their top ten. Whether ardent or casu­al fans, we con­nect with Bowie’s music through mile­stones, both in his career and in our own lives. This truth has been exploit­ed. In 2008, Mike Schiller at Pop­mat­ters bemoaned the fact that almost 20 Bowie com­pi­la­tion albums had been released, a few of which “don’t real­ly seem to court any greater pur­pose what­so­ev­er.”

Giv­en this sur­feit of Bowie com­pi­la­tions on the mar­ket, Schiller’s ini­tial groan­ing reac­tion to news of yet anoth­er (“Oh, good Lord. Anoth­er David Bowie col­lec­tion?”) seems appo­site. Except this col­lec­tion, iSE­LECT: BOWIE, released in 2008 to read­ers of the U.K.’s Mail on Sun­day, then lat­er in an offi­cial CD and dig­i­tal edi­tion, “is actu­al­ly some­thing spe­cial.” Bowie “picked the track­list him­self. Even more than that, the track­list actu­al­ly looks like some­thing he’d have picked him­self, rather than hav­ing a man­ag­er or pub­li­cist pick it for him.”

1. “Life On Mars?” (from the album Hunky Dory)
2. “Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing” (from the album Dia­mond Dogs)
3. “The Bewlay Broth­ers” (from the album Hunky Dory)
4. “Lady Grin­ning Soul” (from the album Aladdin Sane)
5. “Win” (from the album Young Amer­i­cans)
6. “Some Are” (cur­rent­ly exclu­sive to this com­pi­la­tion)
7. “Teenage Wildlife” (from the album Scary Mon­sters)
8. “Rep­e­ti­tion” (from the album Lodger)
9. “Fan­tas­tic Voy­age” (from the album Lodger)
10. “Lov­ing The Alien” (from the album Tonight)
11. “Time Will Crawl (MM Remix)” (new remix by David Bowie)
12. “Hang On To Your­self [live]” (from the album Live San­ta Mon­i­ca ’72)

See the full track­list above and hear a playlist of his picks at the top. If we put all our lists of favorites togeth­er, we might see a very high per­cent­age of “Life on Mars?” picks. We’re in excel­lent com­pa­ny; it’s Bowie’s num­ber one favorite song of his. But how many of his oth­er picks might we choose? The eight-and-a-half minute “Sweet Thing”/”Candidate”/”Sweet Thing (Reprise)” from Dia­mond Dogs? “Win” from Young Amer­i­cans or “The Bewlay Broth­ers” from Hunky Dory?

Aside from “Life on Mars?” and the far less­er-col­lect­ed “Lov­ing the Alien” and “Time Will Crawl,” none of his twelve selec­tions were released as sin­gles. There are no songs from two of the most acclaimed Bowie albums, Low and ’Heroes’, unless we count “Some Are” a bonus track includ­ed on the Low 1991 rere­lease. There are two tracks from Lodger, the third and least acces­si­ble of his vaunt­ed Berlin tril­o­gy, and only one selec­tion from Zig­gy Star­dust, and it ain’t “Zig­gy Star­dust.”

If any­one else hand­ed you this list of favorite Bowie tracks, you’d be skep­ti­cal. Who puts “Hang On to Your­self” (Live in San­ta Mon­i­ca ’72) above any of the stu­dio tracks on that clas­sic 1972 break­out album? David Bowie, that’s who. And who knows, if you’d asked him the day before or after, he might have picked twelve dif­fer­ent songs. There’s no telling how seri­ous­ly he took the exer­cise, but in the news­pa­per release, he did “casu­al­ly [pen] his inspi­ra­tions for the songs and the record­ing process­es behind them,” notes Allmusic’s Jason Lyman­grover.

On his choice of “Teenage Wildlife,” for exam­ple, Bowie com­ment­ed: “So it’s late morn­ing and I’m think­ing, ‘New song and a fresh approach. I know. I’m going to do a Ron­nie Spec­tor. Oh yes I am. Ersatz just for one day.’ And I did and here it is. Bless. I’m still very enam­oured of this song and would give you two ‘Mod­ern Love’s for it any­time…” Bowie got to expe­ri­ence his own music in a way no one else could. iSE­LECT: BOWIE gets behind the great­est hits col­lec­tions for a glimpse at the way he heard and remem­bered his cat­a­logue.

via Rolling Stone

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How David Bowie Used William S. Bur­roughs’ Cut-Up Method to Write His Unfor­get­table Lyrics

The “David Bowie Is” Exhi­bi­tion Is Now Avail­able as an Aug­ment­ed Real­i­ty Mobile App That’s Nar­rat­ed by Gary Old­man: For David Bowie’s Birth­day Today

How David Bowie Deliv­ered His Two Most Famous Farewells: As Zig­gy Star­dust in 1973, and at the End of His Life in 2016

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (5)
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  • Craig Hardesty says:

    “TEENAGE WILDLIFE” is one of his best songs ever. IMHO,“Scary Mon­sters” is his best album ever. I was only 16 years old when the album was released and it real­ly changed the way I lis­tened to music.

  • Jimmy Smith says:


    I doubt very much he would change his song list on anoth­er day!

    As a fan since John that list could eas­i­ly have been writ­ten by myself. I think bowie knew exact­ly what his “great­est” songs were and it does­n’t sur­prise me for one minute that theres noth­ing from low and heroes .…..I’ll say no more than that lol

    Heres an unpub­lished book writ­ten by a friend of mine!

    http://www.thebathers.com/ImagesVERS2.pdf (pdf)
    http://www.thebathers.com/ImagesVERS2.epub (ebook)

    ENJOY (see if you can guess the authors secret)

  • Elaine Scott says:

    Tell Jamie Soule to give his friend Elaine/Ziggy
    a call or text
    604 781 8681
    Where are you?

  • Garry S says:

    What sur­pris­es me the most are the songs on the albums from the 1980s, exclud­ing Scary Mon­sters. I always thought that the 1980s music was more“pop” than “rock”. I love the album Dia­mond Dogs so I have no prob­lem with Sweet Things/Candadate/Sweet Things. Big Broth­er is my favorite song. And Zig­gy Star­dust would not be Zig­gy Star­dust with out Rock ‘N’ Sui­cide. Noth­ing off Low or Sta­tion to Sta­tion, no Thin White Duke. And with all those great songs on Aladdin Sane why would he pick Lady Grin­ning Soul. I mean come on throw me a bone, I would even take
    The Pret­ti­est Star and I despise Ang­ie. But that is why he is David Bowie,rock star, actor,rich, and has one great look­ing wife and I am a health inspec­tor.

  • JamesB says:

    Shav­ing tomor­row for redi­ness of Dad’s Day // geared updat­ed // for my Ten­nis sun and fun!!! Reunion!!

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