David Bowie – My Top 100 Favorite Songs: 90

90 panic in detroit david bowie top 100 vinyl junkies vj

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 90: Panic In Detroit

Kept his gun in quiet seclusion, such a humble man ….

By 1972, trappings of the Ziggy Stardust lifestyle had indulged Bowie’s every fantasy. David spent time writing about this rocket ride he was on, documenting the whirlwind of experience which revolved around him. He found this experience both enthralling and sad, surreal but disturbing. David was living the extremes of everything, which suited him enough to precipitate a move to the United States. Perhaps he found the extremes alluring?

Panic in Detroit began as a song about the ’67 Detroit riots, culled from stories shared by his friend Iggy Pop. Bowie waited until the rest of Aladdin Sane was recorded before completing his final lyrics.  During this period he’d reconnected with an old school mate who’d moved to South America to become a major player in the drug trade. He’d flown in by private jet to attend Bowie’s Carnegie Hall show. David recalls his friend carrying a firearm around while backstage and behaving in a manner which left a lasting impression.  How did his posh school mate become a gun wielding drug baron? This experience would also serve as lyric material to Panic In Detroit. Combined with Iggy’s stories, David went on to write a song about revolutionaries and gangs, violence, drugs and suicide, politics, mental health and psychosis.  Quite a laundry list! An “autograph” is a reference to an 8 ball of cocaine, which his dealer isn’t interested in delivering to him. The dealer is either a former revolutionary or someone active in the riots that were sweeping Detroit.  It’s almost like anarchy and cocaine replaced marijuana and flower power, aggressive civil unrest replaced peaceful protest. The song ends with the dealer having shot himself, leaving behind an autograph for his friend when he stumbled upon the gruesome scene. The final line gives way to David’s feelings of isolation.

“Let me collect dust.” I wish someone would phone

READ 100, 99, 98, 9796, 95, 9493, 92, 91


Panic In Detroit

He looked a lot like Che Guevara, drove a diesel van
Kept his gun in quiet seclusion, such a humble man
The only survivor of the National People’s Gang
Panic in Detroit, I asked for an autograph
He wanted to stay home, I wish someone would phone
Panic in Detroit

He laughed at accidental sirens that broke the evening gloom
The police had warned of repercussions
They followed none too soon
A trickle of strangers were all that were left alive
Panic in Detroit, I asked for an autograph
He wanted to stay home, I wish someone would phone
Panic in Detroit

Putting on some clothes I made my way to school
And I found my teacher crouching in his overalls
I screamed and ran to smash my favorite slot machine
And jumped the silent cars that slept at traffic lights

Having scored a trillion dollars, made a run back home
Found him slumped across the table. A gun and me alone
I ran to the window. Looked for a plane or two
Panic in Detroit. He’d left me an autograph
“Let me collect dust.” I wish someone would phone
Panic in Detroit