Inspiration and life lessons from the man himself.
David Bowie was a prolific songwriter and performer, actor, artist, and intellectual. He was one of the world’s most influential and top-selling artists who is widely regarded as the chameleon of rock, due to his innovation, ability to break artistic barriers, and tendency to jump from genre to genre through his music.
David Bowie’s legacy extends across nearly half a century, inspiring multiple generations. During the long duration of his career, he produced 27 studio albums and over 100 singles. He also starred in 27 films.
Born as David Robert Jones on January 8, 1947 in Brixton, London, England, UK, he showed an interest in music at a very early age. He learned several instruments and formed several bands as well as an experimental arts lab.
Bowie even joined an avant-garde theater and mime group and flirted with Tibetan Buddhism, almost becoming a monk in resident.
Propelled by hopes of stardom, he changed his name to “David Bowie” at age 18. He first earned his first big break with the release of “Space Oddity” which was fortuitously released in tandem with the televised Apollo 11 space launch and reached the top five charts in the U.K.
Bowie personally identified himself more as a writer and actor than as a musician. His unique blend of theatrical performance and musicianship would come through in a lot of his albums as he would change personas throughout his career, providing varietal themes and music styles that he developed and performed onstage.
After his death, Kory Grow of Rolling Stone Magazine described Bowie as an “ever unpredictable” and “mercurial artist and fashion icon [who] wore many guises throughout his life.”
“Beginning life as a dissident folk-rock spaceman, he would become an androgynous, orange-haired, glam-rock alien (Ziggy Stardust), a well-dressed, blue-eyed funk maestro (the Thin White Duke), a drug-loving art rocker (the Berlin albums), a new-wave hit-maker, a hard rocker, a techno enthusiast and a jazz impressionist.”
In 1992, David Bowie married Iman, a model, actress, and entrepreneur after meeting her during a blind date arranged by a mutual friend and hairdresser. When asked during an interview what he considered to be the single greatest achievement of his career, Bowie replied
“Marrying my wife. That’s the most successful thing I ever did in my life… Nothing else counts.“
The two enjoyed almost 25 years together before Bowie’s health shockingly took a turn.
After a multi-decade career, Bowie eventually was faced with battling a stint with cancer.
Bowie released his final album Blackstar on January 8, 2016, two days before his death on January 10th.
Upon the album’s release, no one actually knew that the legend was dying. The news of the rockstar’s death would soon echo through popular media. Many fans and coworkers began to see the album as his final goodbye and parting gift to the world. Each one was to come to that realization on their own, and thus the majority of the public collectively experienced a totally unique reinterpretation of the ominous lyrics that Bowie provided during his music video “Lazarus.”
Blackstar became number one in both the Uk and America’s Billboard 200’s list. It was his first album to reach number one in the US.
Here are the 25 most poignant David Bowie quotes and inspiring song lyrics from his career:
1. Bowie was charming and funny.
“I’m an instant star. Just add water and stir.” —David Bowie
2. When he said “goodbye” to the world:
“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…
This way or no way
You know I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now, ain’t that just like me?” —David Bowie (“Lazarus” Blackstar)
3. He was confident and unapologetic about his work.
“I’m just an individual who doesn’t feel that I need to have somebody qualify my work in any particular way. I’m working for me.” —David Bowie
4. But he also didn’t take himself too seriously.
“I’m terribly intuitive—I always thought I was intellectual about what I do, but I’ve come to the realization that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing half the time.” —David Bowie
5. His masterpiece album held the audience in rapture while painting a picture of an neo-futuristic apocalyptic time.
“News guy wept when he told us Earth was really dying
Cried so much that his face was wet
Then I knew he was not lying.” —David Bowie (“Five Years” The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars)
6. He was a romantic.
“Sometimes you get so lonely
Sometimes you get nowhere
I’ve lived all over the world
I’ve left every place”
“Please be mine
Share my life
Stay with me
Be my wife.” —David Bowie (“Be My Wife” Low)
7. He speaks to all of us.
“I’ve had my share, I’ll help you with the pain
You’re not alone
Just turn on with me, and you’re not alone
Let’s turn on and be not alone
Gimme your hands, ’cause you’re wonderful…
Oh, gimme your hands!” —David Bowie (“Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide” The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars)
8. He blew our minds.
“There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds.” —David Bowie (“Starman” The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars)
9. He was full of lust and life and not afraid to question his sexuality in a time when it was not okay to do so.
“He swallowed his pride and puckered his lips
And showed me the leather belt round his hips
My knees were shaking my cheeks aflame
He said you’ll never go down to the Gods again.” —David Bowie (“The Width of a Circle” The Man Who Sold the World)
10. Struggles with drug addiction became embedded in his personas.
“Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know Major Tom’s a junkie
Strung out in heaven’s high
Hitting an all-time low.” —David Bowie (“Ashes to Ashes” Scary Monsters [And Super Creeps])
11. He created then quickly destroyed his most famous band, creating a shocking statement about the modern day “rock star.”
“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.” —David Bowie (“Ziggy Stardust”The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars)
12. Through his personas he was able to act as other characters which gave him the confidence to perform.
“To this day I’m really not sure if I was playing Ziggy [Stardust] or if Ziggy was exaggerated aspects of my own personality. A fair amount of psychological baggage was undoubtedly coming out through the character. Because I felt awkward and nervous and inadequate with myself, it felt easier to be somebody else.” —David Bowie
13. He reminds us to live life to the fullest.
“Make the best of every moment. We’re not evolving. We’re not going anywhere.” —David Bowie
14. He was sort of Zen.
“The truth is of course is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.” —David Bowie
15. A reminder of the hope and positivity of an early love.
“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.” —David Bowie (“Absolute Beginners” Absolute Beginners)
16. A call to a hippie, carefree and easy way of life.
“Will you stay in our lovers’ story?
If you stay you won’t be sorry
‘Cause we believe in you
Soon you’ll grow so take a chance
With a couple of Kooks
Hung up on romancing.” —David Bowie (“Kooks” Hunky Dory)
17. He was humble.
“Hold me tight
Keep me cool
Don’t know what to do
Do I need a friend?
Well, I need one now
All the days of my life
All the days of my life
All the days I owe you.” —David Bowie (“Days” Reality)
18. He was definitely sexy.
“Keep your ‘lectric eye on me babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream oh yeah
Freak out, far out, in out.” —David Bowie (“Moonage Daydream” The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars)
19. He was passionate.
“I don’t sit around and wait
I don’t give a damn
I don’t see the point at all
No footprints in the sand
I bet you laugh out loud at me
A chance to strike me down
Give me peace of mind at last
Show me all you are
Open up your heart to me
And I would be your slave.” —David Bowie (“I Would Be Your Slave” Heathen)
20. The importance of taking risks to do something you love.
“Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” —David Bowie
21. Sensational lyrics:
“We’ll buy some drugs and watch a band and jump in a river holding hands.” —David Bowie (“Candidate” Diamond Dogs)
22. This song echoed the loneliness of outer space as told by “Major Tom” and became the soundtrack for the 1969 moon landing.
“For here am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do.” —David Bowie (“Space Oddity” Space Oddity)
23. He speaks of the sorrows of selling yourself out in this spooky song that has been covered by many artists including Nirvana.
“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 a surprise
I spoke into his eyes
I thought you died alone
A long long time ago.” —David Bowie (“The Man Who Sold The World” The Man Who Sold The World)
24. His adventurous spirit lives on.
“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” —David Bowie
25. We can all gain inspiration from his life and become the new heroes of our generation.
“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.” —David Bowie (“Black Star” Blackstar ★)
Brianna Androff is a journalist living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has a special interest in science writing, particularly within the field of Psychology. When not busy with work or research, she can be found in the garden with her two cats, attending concerts, or traveling.
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