We in the Geeks & Beats newsroom are still trying to wrap our collective brain around the passing of David Bowie early in the morning of Jan. 11. Few outside his family knew of his illness, it seems, and his celebrated new album, released just days ago on his 69th birthday, came without any suggestion that anything was amiss. If anything, when it was announced last summer that Blackstar was on the horizon, there was optimism that maybe, just maybe, we’d see the great performer on stage again.
We could easily devote several columns to Bowie’s work. He’s influenced so many. His catalog is so varied and has so much range, nearly any artist would be more than fortunate to have that much versatility, range and creativity throughout the course of several lifetimes. Just look a who he worked with, and who covered his own songs, if you need proof.
In no particular order:
“Ashes to Ashes,” covered by A Perfect Circle
Bowie’s sequel to Major Tom’s misadventure in space, “Ashes to Ashes” is moody and dark and electronic before that meant EDM and nothing but endlessly building bass. Here, in his own iconic voice, Maynard James Keenan pleads for an escape from the vast, unfathomable darkness.
“I’m Afraid of Americans” by David Bowie and Trent Reznor
One of the few people on Earth who could ever pull off wearing basically a carpet as a coat over a mustard-coloured turtleneck, Bowie’s chased through the streets of a city by a super-spooky looking Reznor who repeatedly shoots at him with an imaginary rifle. Two brilliant musicians coming together to make a great song and, sadly, timeless video.
“Under Pressure” by Foo Fighters and friends
If there’s a Rock ‘n Roll Heaven, Bowie and Freddy Mercury are using this as a warm-up. During their tour last summer, Foo Fighters brought on a revolving cast of guests, including Queen’s Roger Taylor and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones at the Milton Keynes Festival in September 2015.
“Little Drummer Boy,” Bing Crosby and David Bowie
Ugh, it hurts to hear the introduction here. “This is my son’s favourite!,” Bowie says, before the music picks up. Bowie’s son, Duncan, was among the first to confirm his passing and would’ve been about six when this was taped. We might be a few weeks past Christmas, but it’s a lovely mix of old and new. Plus there’s the great story that Bing Crosby had no idea who Bowie was when he was asked to do this song–his kids had to tell him.
“Young Americans” by The Cure
Goth kids rejoice–one of your favourite bands covering another of your favourite artists! Didn’t even know this existed until sitting down to write this list and that’s unfortunate. It’s peppier and spunkier, which is saying something, both when considering who’s doing the covering and when comparing it to the original. Very synth-y.
“China Girl,” Iggy Pop
This is the original.
“China Doll” by David Bowie
This is the cover.
“Ziggy Stardust” by David Bowie
This is the song Bowie wrote after being inspired by Iggy, which categorizes it as a collaboration, as far as I’m concerned.
“Suffragette City” by Alice in Chains
From 1989, before they were huge, Alice in Chains released something called “The Treehouse Tapes.” Does anyone know anything about this? Regardless, it’s a pretty cool cover.
“Dancing in the Streets,” Mick Jagger and David Bowie
The nature of their relationship doesn’t matter. This song is incredibly catchy and so 80s. Look at the pastel shirts! Those dance moves! Those hips!
“Space Oddity,” Chris Hadfield
Time and again Monday morning, people took to Twitter to share their thoughts on Bowie’s passing. Time and again, the lyrics from this song came up: “Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.” It’s only fitting to include this version of the song, filmed on the International Space Station.
I’m leaving off Nirvana’s “Man Who Sold the World” on purpose, but if there’s a great cover or collaboration you particularly love, let us know.
For what it’s worth, Tony Visconti, who produced Bowie’s last album, Blackstar, released a statement Monday morning confirming that Bowie intended the album, and its first single, “Lazarus,” to be a “parting gift” for his fans. Writing on his Facebook page, Visconti says:
“He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way.
“His death was no different from his life – a work of Art.
“He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift.
“I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it.
“He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us.”