David Bowie – My Top 100 Favorite Songs: 96

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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 96: Dollar Days

I’m dying to, push their backs against the grain and fool them all again and again…

Blackstar makes its first appearance in the countdown, Bowie’s Swan Song.  David recruited jazz saxophonist Donny McCaslin along with his band, musicians he’d previously never worked with. According to McCaslin, Dollar Days was written and recorded during a single morning. By this stage he was aware he was dying from liver cancer and didn’t have much time left.  These thoughts and sentiments are clearly reflected in the song lyrics.

David had an obsession with time and the inability to live in the present. The idea of suddenly having to come to terms with the fact that your flame is about to go out.  The finality of those words, the words that tell you you’re dying and your time is up. I try to imagine what it must have been like for him; they must have been hard to hear! For Bowie to have picked himself up from that and then deliver his life’s masterpiece? Impossible!!

When the Blackstar video first came out I found it pretty jarring, terrifying even. There was something very wrong, but we didn’t know anything yet. I’ll delve more deeply into that further in the countdown, the entire album bears analysis and discussion among Bowie fans. For now here’s a beauty with such raw emotion and deep meaning it cuts deep, really deep! Dollar Days is an open admission that his time had come. Is it a song about acceptance? Is it an announcement?  Is Bowie really saying that it’s nothing to him and there is nothing to see? Certainly not, it’s everything! He’s openly reassuring himself (albeit unconvincingly) that ‘things’ don’t matter anymore.

Bowie had reached the stage in his life where he’d found peace. He had beaten his addictions, had no enemies and was happily enjoying family life, on his own terms.  During his ten year sabbatical he’d finally found the freedom he’d always been searching for, only to have it ripped away by cancer. I’ve been in the grip of alcoholism and addiction myself so I feel a very close connection to David. Working past the pain and the drama to find your happiness, is that the wonderful place from where David is singing? He struggles to contain his emotions as he’s been hurt in the past, cheated on and used by others. In Dollar Days he’s telling those people that he hasn’t forgotten, but he’s trying!! Those words cut me to pieces, they’re a hard listen. He really wants to carry on, he wants to rise above but time has simply run out for him.  Despite his wish to come to terms with his past hurts, his time to work on it has expired.

Nothing, forgetting. Trying, dying. never. Running, walking, and falling.

Those words stand out so large in this song. Read them for yourselves; it’s a finality isn’t it? He’s fallen down but this time, he’s not getting up. It’s over.

“It’s all gone wrong but on and on
The bitter nerve ends never end
I’m falling down”

These are probably the most difficult lyrics to listen to in David’s repertoire. The finality kills me each and every time .

But don’t you think for one second that he is forgetting us ....

READ 100, 99, 98, 97


Dollar Days

[Verse 1]
Cash girls suffer me, I’ve got no enemies
I’m walking down
It’s nothing to me
It’s nothing to see
If I’ll never see the English evergreens I’m running to
It’s nothing to me
It’s nothing to see

[Chorus 1]
I’m dying to
Push their backs against the grain
And fool them all again and again
I’m trying to
We bitches tear our magazines
Those Oligarchs with foaming mouths phone
Now and then
Can’t believe for just one second I’m forgetting you
I’m trying to
I’m dying to

[Verse 2]
Dollar days, survival sex
Honour stretching tails to necks
I’m falling down
It’s nothing to me
It’s nothing to see
If I’ll never see the English evergreens I’m running to
It’s nothing to me
It’s nothing to see

[Chorus 2]
I’m dying to
Push their backs against the grain
And fool them all again and again
I’m trying to
It’s all gone wrong but on and on
The bitter nerve ends never end
I’m falling down
Don’t believe for just one second I’m forgetting you
I’m trying to
I’m dying to

[Outro]
I’m trying to
I’m dying to
I’m trying to
I’m dying to
I’m trying to
I’m dying to
I’m trying to
I’m dying to

**I firmly believe David is also expressing his own mortality here
I’m dying too*
I’m trying too*

This song cuts deep