David Bowie died on Monday, 11 January 2016, two days after his sixty-ninth birthday, after an eighteen month battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife of 23 years, Iman, and two children, Duncan Jones and Alexandria Zahra Jones. He leaves behind what is undoubtedly one of most prolific, exciting and genuinely inspiring legacies in musical history.
How do you write about David Bowie? In the end what is to be said that hasn’t already been said in the past five and half decades. Do you talk about his string of albums between 1970 and 1981 that is, and probably always will be, unparalleled? This is a period wherein one man directed The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, Station to Station, Low, Heroes, Lodger and Scary Monsters. Take your least favourite from that bunch and it’s still probably better than album any other album released in the last fifty years. Do you talk about his ability to not only shift genres with a grace and fluidity but also introduce the general public to Philadelphia soul, krautrock, ambient music, Nietzschean supermen and Warholic glam and sexuality in an age of Donny Osmond and Debbie Boone. Do you avoid his drug addiction and creative slump from the mid eighties until the naughties? That twenty-fifth hour comeback of not one, but two absolutely essential albums, the latter of which showcased how even at this stage in the game, his mind was still firmly on experimentation and bringing the world towards the future? How do you do it?
The fact of the matter is you can’t summarise David Bowie in an easy, neatly wrapped package. To even attempt such a thing would be an insult to a legacy that stretches across almost every facet of popular culture. The man has left you literally days of music to feast upon. Go back to those albums; devote your time. There are universes contained within those discs just waiting to be uncovered. With this mind, we present you with a fifty song playlist of Bowie cuts, arranged in chronological order to showcase how just magnificent and varied this legendary figure was.
The tale of his life has a fitting conclusion. He died three days after releasing his twenty-sixth record, Blackstar, the response to which has been resoundingly positive. Bowie, the ultimate entertainer, knows how to perfectly finish the show while still making the audience want more.
Goodnight, David Bowie. You will be missed. Will Murphy
Stream Will Murphy’s fifty-two track Bowie tribute playlist below.