David Bowie – My Top 100 Favorite Songs: 82

82 The Stars Are Out Tonight vinyl junkies vj david bowie top 100 songs

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 82: The Stars (Are Out Tonight)

Taken From: The Next Day (2002)

Waiting for the last move

Soaking up our primitive world… 

The Next Day is probably my most listened to Bowie album of the last few years. A decade had passed since he’d released Reality, leading many  to believe that David had finally decided to retire from the spotlight. The release of The Next Day caught many Bowie fans off guard as we’d mostly accepted David’s absence, by the time this record was released. All things considered, The Stars (Are Out Tonight) fit perfectly within this context as it is a song in which David expressed his rather significant distaste for stardom, celebrity, and all its trappings.

The song is a bit of a grower while the accompanying video can be an uneasy watch. Bowie melds elements of kitsch to otherwise dark, cold overtones to fuse yet another powerful statement in his catalog.  Having aged somewhat and gained some insight into his life, “Stars” can be viewed as a successful attempt to characterize the lessons he’d learned. His vocal delivery seems out of breath, perhaps frustrated and slightly aggressive. Overall, I view it as an authentic portrayal of some form of mania, which David leaves open to interpretation. Whether frantic or calm, Bowie succeeds in creating an aural atmosphere which deepens as your mind and ears begin assembling the pieces.

2013 was a tough year for me, for which The Next Day would be a saving grace.. A deeply destructive cycle of drugs and drink had me plummeting quickly towards rock bottom.   Living life as someone I wasn’t put me in rehab by November. It was during that time, while sitting in my room, that I began replaying The Stars (Are Out Tonight) on a constant loop.  David was singing me lessons I desperately had to learn, he had the knowledge I needed to help stop my own self-destruction.

By 2002 Bowie had lived through the roller coaster of mega fame and become increasingly keen on shielding himself from the glare of constantly being in the public eye. The heights nearly killed him while flirting with the mainstream sapped him of his creativity, he’d had enough. He would spend the next 10 years out of the limelight. Shedding the weight of public expectation permitted him to focus on finding his true voice. The contemplative lyrics of “The Stars” spoke to me directly as I tried to make sense of my own life.  What is importance, who does it matter to? Who’s opinions are worth chasing, and why did their opinions matter to me?

To David, success meant being able to walking freely in New York City, having dinner without causing a stir around him. NOT being famous is where David finally found his happiness or rather, that is where he came to realize that fame and wealth did not bring happiness. This revelation hit me like a train, it was the catalyst which caused me to begin re-evaluating my own behavior. Knowing that David didn’t need fame to be happy made me question why I was chasing the acceptance of people who felt just as empty as I did.

Revisit the song, David reveals a lot.

READ 100, 99, 98… 85, 84, 83

The Stars (Are Out Tonight)

Stars are never sleeping
Dead ones and the living

We live closer to the earth
Never to the heavens
The stars are never far away
Stars are out tonight

They watch us from behind their shades
Brigitte, Jack and Kate and Brad
From behind their tinted window stretch
Gleaming like blackened sunshine

Stars are never sleeping
Dead ones and the living

Waiting for the first move
Satyrs and their child wives
Waiting for the last move
Soaking up our primitive world

Stars are never sleeping
Dead ones and the living

Their jealousy’s spilling down
The stars must stick together
We will never be rid of these stars
But I hope they live forever

And they know just what we do
That we toss and turn at night
They’re waiting to make their moves
But the stars are out tonight

Here they are upon the stairs
Sexless and unaroused
They are the stars, they’re dying for you
But I hope they live forever

They burn you with their radiant smiles
Trap you with their beautiful eyes
They’re broke and shamed or drunk or scared
But I hope they live forever

Their jealousy’s spilling down
The stars must stick together
We will never be rid of these stars
But I hope they live forever

And they know just what we do
That we toss and turn at night
They’re waiting to make their moves on us
The stars are out tonight

The stars are out tonight
The stars are out tonight