David Bowie – My Top 100 Favorite Songs: 81

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I recently witnessed the biggest David Bowie fan I know count down his top 100 favorite songs. These were private posts, meant solely for his Facebook family and friends. Something really cool happened over those 100 days.

I’d like to share that countdown with you. Read along, embark upon Niall Colgan’s personal journey while he narrates some of the most intimate aspects of his life with his undying passion for the art of David Bowie. The vid below is a short intro, scroll directly beneath to read the countdown.

Number 81: Dead Man Walking

Taken From: Earthling (1997)

And I’m gone, like I’m dancing on angels…

 

Earthling revealed a down to Earth David Bowie, a human being who was finally comfortable in his own skin. He mostly toured the album in clubs and small venues, to resounding success and huge critical acclaim. Had Bowie just adopted another character, representative of the genre he’d chosen to undertake?  He’d certainly immersed himself in the underground raver lifestyle of 90’s subculture.  Were small venues chosen so that Bowie could feel more in touch with his fans, be more human? Bowie certainly seemed more at ease and comfortable. By this point he’d assumed creative control of his image and music; he’d freed himself of any ties he had with record labels and was finally free to do as he pleased.  Earthling was perhaps the most bold statement in Bowie’s career. Aggressive electronic beats combined with a strong visual of David dressed in a sharp, Union Jack themed full length coat.  Back to us, he faces an expanse of sky, fields and sea; a man in control, staring out at nothing but endless possibility.


Dead Man Walking video

Directed by Floria Gisimondi

The video to Dead Man Walking is worth having a deeper look as it repeats many of the dark themes and imagery which Bowie would revisit throughout his career.  Of particular interest is Bowie’s interaction with Gail Ann Dorsey, the beguiling female masked in devil horns and tails. There is a definite push/pull dynamic throughout their dance.  At times Bowie puts up his hands and moves defensively, as if engaged in a fight. A few short instances later we see him entangled and seduced by the same demon. The rapid body shaking, first seen in this video, would be revisited again in the Blackstar videos. These same dark themes were a constant and pervasive part of Bowie’s visuals, especially from ’95 til the end. I am led to believe that these links are not haphazard; they harken back to David’s earlier obsessions with the occult and numerology during the mid 70s.  As previously mentioned, Bowie often alluded to a terrifying, otherworldly event he witnessed during his time in L.A. Did David visit The Villa Of Ormen during this event? While there is no direct proof, this theory has been put forth before and will be revisited many more times during this countdown.

As a recovering addict who’s battled his own demons, Dead Man Walking is a song which made a lasting impact; its constant reference to some terrifying experience which David survived was something I personally felt. Whether he’s singing in metaphors or retelling a real life event is open to debate. How did he survive this event? He doesn’t know but he’s always aware. It hasn’t gone away, you know.

READ 100, 99, 98… 85, 84, 83, 82,

Dead Man Walking

He swivels his head
Tears his eyes from the screen
As his past puts him back in Atlantic City

There’s not even a demon in Heaven or Hell
Is it all just human disguise?
As I walk down the aisle

Gone gone gone spinning slack through the end?
Deadens? my brain falling up through the years
Till I swivel back round then I fly fly fly
Losing breath from the water then I’m gone gone gone

And I’m gone gone gone
Now I’m older than movies
Let me dance away
Now I’m wiser than dreams
Let me fly fly fly
While I’m touching tomorrow
And I know who’s there
When silhouettes fall

And I’m gone
Like I’m dancing on angels
And I’m gone through a crack in the past

Like a dead man walking
Like a dead man walking

Three old men dancing under the lamplight
Shaking their sex and their bones
And the boys that we were
An alien nation in therapy
Sliding naked and new
Like a bad tempered child
On a rain slicked street

Gone gone gone spinning slack through the end?
Deadens? my brain falling up through the years
Till I swivel back round then I fly fly fly
Losing breath from the water then I’m gone gone gone

And I’m gone

And I’m gone, like I’m dancing on angels
And I’m gone, through the crack in the past

Like a dead man walking
Like a dead man walking
Like a dead man
Like a dead man walking

And I’m gone gone gone
Let me dance dance dance
And I’m gone gone gone
Let me dance dance dance

And I’m gone, like I’m dancing on angels
And I’m gone, through a crack in the past
And I’m gone, like I’m dancing on angels
And I’m gone, through a crack in the past

Like a dead man walking
Like a dead man walking
Like a dead man
Like a dead man walking