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“When I’m stuck for a closing to a lyric, I will drag out my last resort: overwhelming illogic.”

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Quotes by David Bowie

  1. A song has to take on character, shape, body and influence people to an extent that they use it for their own devices. It must affect them not just as a song, but as a lifestyle.
  2. Age doesn’t bother me. So many of my heroes were older guys. It’s the lack of years left that weighs far heavier on me than the age that I am.
  3. All Montreal bands have around nine members, I believe.
  4. All art really does is keep you focused on questions of humanity, and it really is about how do we get on with our maker.
  5. All my big mistakes are when I try to second-guess or please an audience. My work is always stronger when I get very selfish about it.
  6. An armchair Jungian would say the whole thing is about my own ongoing spiritual search. My interior life has always been one of trying to find a spiritual link, maybe because I’m from a family of separate religious philosophies: Protestant and Catholic.
  7. And I saw the sax line-up that he had behind him and I thought, I’m going to learn the saxophone. When I grow up, I’m going to play in his band. So I sort of persuaded my dad to get me a kind of a plastic saxophone on the hire purchase plan.
  8. Anxiety and spiritual searching have been consistent themes with me, and that figures into my worldview. But I tend to make my songs sound like relationship songs.
  9. Art was, seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own. It has always been for me a stable nourishment. I use it. It can change the way that I feel in the mornings.
  10. As an adolescent, I was painfully shy, withdrawn. I didn’t really have the nerve to sing my songs on stage, and nobody else was doing them. I decided to do them in disguise so that I didn’t have to actually go through the humiliation of going on stage and being myself.
  11. As you get older, the questions come down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I’ve got left?
  12. Being a hybrid maker off and on over the years, I’m very comfortable with the idea and have been the subject of quite a few pretty good mash-ups myself.
  13. Being shoved into the top-40 scene was an unusual experience. It was great I’d become accessible to a huge audience but not terribly fulfilling.
  14. But I’m pretty good with collaborative thinking. I work well with other people.
  15. But I’ve got to think of myself as the luckiest guy. Robert Johnson only had one album’s worth of work as his legacy. That’s all that life allowed him.
  16. Confront a corpse at least once. The absolute absence of life is the most disturbing and challenging confrontation you will ever have.
  17. Dance music is no longer a simple Donna Summer beat. It’s become a whole language that I find fascinating and exciting. Eventually, it will lose the dance tag and join the fore of rock.
  18. Even though I was very shy, I found I could get onstage if I had a new identity.
  19. Everything I read about hitting a midlife crisis was true. I had such a struggle letting go of youthful things and learning how to exist and have enthusiasm while settling into the comfort of an older age.
  20. Fame can take interesting men and thrust mediocrity upon them.
  21. Fame itself… doesn’t really afford you anything more than a good seat in a restaurant.
  22. For me, often, there’s such a cloud of melancholia about knowing I’m going to have to leave my daughter on her own. I don’t know what age that is going to be, thank God. It just doubles me up in grief.
  23. For me, the world that I inhabit in reality is probably a very different world than the one people expect that I would be in.
  24. Frankly, I mean, sometimes the interpretations I’ve seen on some of the songs that I’ve written are a lot more interesting than the input that I put in.
  25. Frankly, if I could get away with not having to perform, I’d be very happy. It’s not my favorite thing to do.
  26. From my standpoint, being an artist, I want to see what the new construction is between artist and audience.
  27. Funk, I don’t think I have anything to do with funk. I’ve never considered myself funky.
  28. GYBE are among my, erm, two favourite Montreal bands, Arcade Fire being the other.
  29. Glam really did plant seeds for a new identity. I think a lot of kids needed that – that sense of reinvention. Kids learned that however crazy you may think it is, there is a place for what you want to do and who you want to be.
  30. Heathenism is a state of mind. You can take it that I’m referring to one who does not see his world. He has no mental light. He destroys almost unwittingly. He cannot feel any Gods presence in his life. He is the 21st century man.
  31. However, there’s no theme or concept behind Heathen, just a number of songs but somehow there is a thread that runs through it that is quite as strong as any of my thematic type albums.
  32. I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human.
  33. I believe that I often bring out the best in somebody’s talents.
  34. I cannot with any real integrity perform songs I’ve done for 25 years. I don’t need the money. What I need is to feel that I am not letting myself down as an artist and that I still have something to contribute.
  35. I change my mind a lot. I usually don’t agree with what I say very much. I’m an awful liar.
  36. I could imagine at a certain age, when I have no vocal cords left, that I would find a young man who could sing my parts for me. But I don’t see why I would stop.
  37. I couldn’t have written things like ‘Low’ and ‘Heroes,’ those particular albums, if it hadn’t have been for Berlin and the kind of atmosphere I felt there.
  38. I do some kind of work, whether writing or painting or recording, on a daily basis. And it’s so essential that when I’m involved in the actual process, my so-called ‘real life’ becomes almost incidental, which becomes worrying.
  39. I do value the respect I get from my contemporaries, but to have Oasis cover my song, to have Puff Daddy cover a song, to have Goldie come along to my gigs – that’s where my ego is at. To have my fellow musicians like what I do, that’s very cool.
  40. I don’t crave applause. I’m not one of those guys who comes alive on stage. I’m much more alive at home, I think.
  41. I don’t have a problem with ageing – in fact, I embrace that aspect of it. And am able to and obviously am going to be able to quite easily… it doesn’t faze me at all.
  42. I don’t have stylistic loyalty. That’s why people perceive me changing all the time. But there is a real continuity in my subject matter. As an artist of artifice, I do believe I have more integrity than any one of my contemporaries.
  43. I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.
  44. I don’t like to read things that people write about me. I’d rather read what kids have to say about me because it’s not their profession to do that.
  45. I don’t profess to have music as my big wheel and there are a number of other things as important to me apart from music. Theatre and mime, for instance.
  46. I don’t see any boundaries between any of the art forms. I think they all inter-relate completely.
  47. I feel confident imposing change on myself. It’s a lot more fun progressing than looking back. That’s why I need to throw curve balls.
  48. I felt I really wanted to back off from music completely and just work within the visual arts in some way. I started painting quite passionately at that time.
  49. I find only freedom in the realms of eccentricity.
  50. I guess it’s flattering that everyone believed I was those characters, but it also is dehumanizing.
  51. I guess, taking away all the theatrics or the costuming and the outer layers of what I do, I’m a writer… I write.
  52. I had to resign myself, many years ago, that I’m not too articulate when it comes to explaining how I feel about things. But my music does it for me, it really does.
  53. I have all the admiration in the world for somebody like Bono, who really puts himself on the line and tries actively to do something about our world situation.
  54. I knew that I was ‘interesting’ at 18 because I was aware that I could get away with doing things on stage.
  55. I never could get over the fact that The Pixies formed, worked and separated without America taking them to its heart or even recognizing their existence for the most part.
  56. I never really felt like a rock singer or a rock star or whatever.
  57. I never thought I would be such a family-oriented guy; I didn’t think that was part of my makeup. But somebody said that as you get older, you become the person you always should have been, and I feel that’s happening to me.
  58. I rate Morrissey as one of the best lyricists in Britain. For me, he’s up there with Bryan Ferry.
  59. I re-invented my image so many times that I’m in denial that I was originally an overweight Korean woman.
  60. I realized the other day that I’ve lived in New York longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. It’s amazing: I am a New Yorker. It’s strange; I never thought I would be.
  61. I still derive immense pleasure from remembering how many hod-carrying brickies were encouraged to put on lurex tights and mince up and down the high street, having been assured by know-it-alls like me that a smidgen of blusher really attracted the birds.
  62. I suppose for me as an artist it wasn’t always just about expressing my work; I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture that I was living in. It just seemed like a challenge to move it a little bit towards the way I thought it might be interesting to go.
  63. I think Mick Jagger would be astounded and amazed if he realized that to many people he is not a sex symbol, but a mother image.
  64. I think Mustique is Duchampian – it will always provide an endless source of delight.
  65. I think in the ’70s that there was a general feeling of chaos, a feeling that the idea of the ’60s as ‘ideal’ was a misnomer. Nothing seemed ideal anymore. Everything seemed in-between.
  66. I think it all comes back to being very selfish as an artist. I mean, I really do just write and record what interests me and I do approach the stage shows in much the same way.
  67. I think much has been made of this alter ego business. I mean, I actually stopped creating characters in 1975 – for albums, anyway.
  68. I think, generally, I just cannot really envision life without writing and producing records and singing.
  69. I thought that I wrote songs and wrote music, and that was sort of what I thought I was best at doing. And because nobody else was ever doing my songs, I felt – you know, I had to go out and do them.
  70. I wanted to be Gerry Mulligan, only, see, I didn’t have any kind of technique. So I thought, well, baritone sax is kind of easier; I can manage that – except I couldn’t afford a baritone, so I bought an alto, which was the same fingering.
  71. I wanted to imbue Ziggy with real flesh and blood and muscle, and it was imperative that I find Ziggy and be him.
  72. I wanted to prove the sustaining power of music.
  73. I was born in London 1947, after the war. A real wartime baby. I went to school in Brixton, and then I moved up to Yorkshire, which is in the north of England. I lived on the farms up there.
  74. I was never particularly fond of my voice.
  75. I was very into making the Big Artistic Statement – it had to be innovative; it had to be cutting edge. I was desperately keen on being original.
  76. I went through all the musicians in my life who I admire as bright, intelligent, virtuosic players.
  77. I wish myself to be a prop, if anything, for my songs. I want to be the vehicle for my songs. I would like to colour the material with as much visual expression as is necessary for that song.
  78. I would dream. I focused all my attention on going to America. The subculture, James Dean, the rock n’ roll, the beat writers.
  79. I would drive to gigs in my tiny little Fiat. I would shoot up and down the M1 to play at various places.
  80. I’ll tell you who I absolutely adore: Ian McEwan.
  81. I’m always amazed that people take what I say seriously. I don’t even take what I am seriously.
  82. I’m an early riser. I get up between five and six, have coffee, and read for a couple of hours before everyone else gets up.
  83. I’m an instant star. Just add water and stir.
  84. I’m in awe of the universe, but I don’t necessarily believe there’s an intelligence or agent behind it. I do have a passion for the visual in religious rituals, though, even though they may be completely empty and bereft of substance.
  85. I’m in awe of the universe, but I don’t necessarily believe there’s an intelligence or agent behind it. I do have a passion for the visual in religious rituals, though, even though they may be completely empty and bereft of substance. The incense is powerful and provocative, whether Buddhist or Catholic.
  86. 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.
  87. I’m looking for backing for an unauthorized auto-biography that I am writing. Hopefully, this will sell in such huge numbers that I will be able to sue myself for an extraordinary amount of money and finance the film version in which I will play everybody.
  88. I’m not a prophet or a stone aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I’m living on.
  89. I’m not actually a very keen performer. I like putting shows together. I like putting events together. In fact, everything I do is about the conceptualizing and realization of a piece of work, whether it’s the recording or the performance side.
  90. I’m not one of those guys that has a great worldview. I kind of deal with terror and fear and isolation and abandonment.
  91. I’m not very articulate.
  92. I’m rather kind of old school, thinking that when an artist does his work, it’s no longer his… I just see what people make of it.
  93. I’m responsible for starting a whole new school of pretension.
  94. I’m very at ease, and I like it. I never thought I would be such a family-oriented guy; I didn’t think that was part of my makeup. But somebody said that as you get older you become the person you always should have been, and I feel that’s happening to me. I’m rather surprised at who I am, because I’m actually like my dad!
  95. I’m very good at what I do, and I don’t turn my hand to something unless I’m very good at it, frankly.
  96. I’m wallowing in the whole idea of just being a guy out there with a band, with songs. It’s a real enjoyment.
  97. I’m well past the age where I’m acceptable. You get to a certain age and you are forbidden access. You’re not going to get the kind of coverage that you would like in music magazines, you’re not going to get played on radio and you’re not going to get played on television. I have to survive on word of mouth.
  98. I’ve always regretted that I never was able to talk openly with my parents, especially with my father. I’ve heard and read so many things about my family that I can no longer believe anything; every relative I question has a completely different story from the last.
  99. I’ve always tended to write songs prolifically.
  100. I’ve made over 25 studio albums, and I think probably I’ve made two real stinkers in my time, and some not-bad albums, and some really good albums. I’m proud of what I’ve done. In fact it’s been a good ride.
  101. I’ve never responded well to entrenched negative thinking.
  102. I’ve started doing book reviews for Barnes & Noble! They saw that I did a lot of book reviews on the site, and they figured that it might not be a bad thing if they got me to do some for them as well. I gave them five categories I’d be interested in reviewing, from art to fiction to music.
  103. If I had a talent, it was for looking askew at everything, possibly more than my contemporaries. But I had to really push myself to be a writer.
  104. It amazes me sometimes that even intelligent people will analyze a situation or make a judgement after only recognizing the standard or traditional structure of a piece.
  105. It is amazing how a new child can refocus one’s direction seconds after its birth.
  106. It would be my guess that Madonna is not a very happy woman. From my own experience, having gone through persona changes like that, that kind of clawing need to be the center of attention is not a pleasant place to be.
  107. It’s amazing: I am a New Yorker. It’s strange; I never thought I would be.
  108. Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity. So it’s like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again. You’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left.
  109. My father worked for a children’s home called Dr. Barnardo’s Homes. They’re a charity.
  110. My mother was Catholic, my father was Protestant. There was always a debate going on at home – I think in those days we called them arguments – about who was right and who was wrong.
  111. My son’s full real name is Duncan Zowie Haywood. As a toddler, he was called by his second name Zowie. But it was such an identifiable name during the Seventies that if I called him loudly in public places, everyone would turn to stare, so I started calling him Joey to take the pressure off.
  112. Nearly all the synth work on Heathen is mine and some of the piano.
  113. Now I realize that from ’72 through to about ’76, I was the ultimate rock star. I couldn’t have been more rock star.
  114. On the other hand, what I like my music to do to me is awaken the ghosts inside of me. Not the demons, you understand, but the ghosts.
  115. Once I’ve written something it does tend to run away from me. I don’t seem to have any part of it – it’s no longer my piece of writing.
  116. Pixies and Sonic Youth were so important to the eighties.
  117. Questioning my spiritual life has always been germane to what I was writing. Always. It’s because I’m not quite an atheist and it worries me. There’s that little bit that holds on: ‘Well, I’m almost an atheist. Give me a couple of months.’
  118. Radio in England is nonexistent. It’s very bad English use of a media system, typically English use.
  119. Searching for music is like searching for God. They’re very similar. There’s an effort to reclaim the unmentionable, the unsayable, the unseeable, the unspeakable, all those things, comes into being a composer and to writing music and to searching for notes and pieces of musical information that don’t exist.
  120. Since the departure of good old-fashioned entertainers the re-emergence of somebody who wants to be an entertainer has unfortunately become a synonym for camp. I don’t think I’m camper than any other person who felt at home on stage, and felt more at home on stage than he did offstage.
  121. Sometimes you stumble across a few chords that put you in a reflective place.
  122. Songs don’t have to be about going out on Saturday night and having a good rink-up and driving home and crashing cars. A lot of what I’ve done is about alienation… about where you fit in society.
  123. Strangely, some songs you really don’t want to write.
  124. That’s the shock: All cliches are true. The years really do speed by. Life really is as short as they tell you it is. And there really is a God – so do I buy that one? If all the other cliches are true… Hell, don’t pose me that one.
  125. The Americans at heart are a pure and noble people; things to them are in black and white. It’s either ‘rawk’ or it’s not. We Brits putter around in the grey area.
  126. The Internet carries the flag of being subversive and possibly rebellious and chaotic, nihilistic.
  127. The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music will take place within 10 years, and nothing is going to be able to stop it. I see absolutely no point in pretending that it’s not going to happen. I’m fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years.
  128. The humanists’ replacement for religion: work really hard and somehow you’ll either save yourself or you’ll be immortal. Of course, that’s a total joke, and our progress is nothing. There may be progress in technology but there’s no ethical progress whatsoever.
  129. The name Zahra was to have been lman’s own name at birth, but a senior member of the family changed it to lman at the last minute.
  130. The skin of my character in ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ was some concoction, a spermatozoon of an alien nature that was obscene and weird-looking.
  131. The truest form of any form of revolutionary Left, whatever you want to call it, was Jack Kerouac, E.E. Cummings, & Ginsberg’s period. Excuse me, but that’s where it was at.
  132. The truth is of course is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.
  133. There are half a dozen subjects that I return to time and time again, and that doesn’t bother me. Because most of my favorite writers do that, to hunt down the same topic or theme from different directions each time.
  134. There are times when I prefer a cerebral moment with an artist, and I’ll just enjoy the wit of a Picabia or a Duchamp. It amuses me that they thought that what they did would be a good way of making art.
  135. There’s a schizoid streak within the family anyway so I dare say that I’m affected by that. The majority of the people in my family have been in some kind of mental institution, as for my brother he doesn’t want to leave. He likes it very much.
  136. There’s an effort to reclaim the unmentionable, the unsayable, the unspeakable, all those things come into being a composer, into writing music, into searching for notes and pieces of musical information that don’t exist.
  137. There, in the chords and melodies, is everything I want to say. The words just jolly it along. It’s always been my way of expressing what, for me, is inexpressible by any other means.
  138. These are all personal crises, I’m sure, that I manifest in a song format and project into physical situations. You make little stories up about how you feel. It’s as simple as that.
  139. To not be modest about it, you’ll find that with only a couple of exceptions, most of the musicians that I’ve worked with have done their best work by far with me.
  140. Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.
  141. Tony Visconti and I had been wanting to work together again for a few years now. Both of us had fairly large commitments and for a long time we couldn’t see a space in which we could get anything together.
  142. What I do is I write mainly about very personal and rather lonely feelings, and I explore them in a different way each time. You know, what I do is not terribly intellectual. I’m a pop singer for Christ’s sake. As a person, I’m fairly uncomplicated.
  143. What I have is a malevolent curiosity. That’s what drives my need to write and what probably leads me to look at things a little askew. I do tend to take a different perspective from most people.
  144. What I like to do is try to make a difference with the work I do.
  145. When I heard Little Richard, I mean, it just set my world on fire.
  146. When I was 18, I thought that, to be a romantic, you couldn’t live past 30.
  147. When I’m stuck for a closing to a lyric, I will drag out my last resort: overwhelming illogic.
  148. When it comes down to it, glam rock was all very amusing. At the time, it was funny, then a few years later it became sort of serious-looking and a bit foreboding.
  149. When you think about it, Adolf Hitler was the first pop star.
  150. With a suit, always wear big British shoes, the ones with large welts. There’s nothing worse than dainty little Italian jobs at the end of the leg line.
  151. You get to a certain age, and you are forbidden access. You’re not going to get the kind of coverage that you would like in music magazines; you’re not going to get played on radio, and you’re not going to get played on television. I have to survive on word of mouth.
  152. You would think that a rock star being married to a supermodel would be one of the greatest things in the world. It is.