My Favourite Lyric On Every Bowie Song

As a songwriter, I’m always fascinated by the lyrical landscapes painted by my favourite artists. I believe the greatest lyricist in music history, the man capable of taking the listener on a captivating journey almost every time without fail, to be none other than David Bowie.

Since this isn’t like my usual rankings, I’ll just be listing out some of my favourite Bowie lyrics – maximum one per track. I’ll try to include every song, but some are instrumental and others (especially on his debut album) just don’t really stand out to me. I hope you enjoy this masterclass of lyricism, and I hope it inspires you half as much as it does me!

Before we begin, you can check out some of my related blog posts below:

1960’s

“We are not your friends, we don’t give a damn for what you’re saying. We’re here to live our lives” (We Are Hungry Men)
“I’m floating in the most peculiar way, and the stars look very different today” (Space Oddity)
“I keep havin’ this brainstorm about twelve times a day” (Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed)
“We want to live! I want to live!” (Cygnet Committee)
“But I’ve got things inside my head that even I can’t face” (Janine)
“In our madness we burnt one hundred days” (An Occasional Dream)
“So the village dreadful yawns, pronouncing gross diversion as the label for the dog” (Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud)
“And her heart it leapt inside her as the hand lay on her shoulder, she was led away bewildered and amazed” (God Knows I’m Good)
“Oh, to capture just one drop of all the ecstasy that swept that afternoon” (Memory of a Free Festival)

1970’s

“So I said ‘So long’ and I waved ‘Bye-bye’, and I smashed my soul and traded my mind” (The Width of a Circle)
“Cause I’d rather stay here with all the Madmen than perish with the sad men roaming free” (All the Madmen)
“I sing with impertinence, shading impermanent chords with my words” (After All)
“I thought you died alone, a long long time ago” (The Man Who Sold the World)
“The Supermen would walk in file, guardians of a loveless isle” (The Supermen)
“And these children that you spit on while you try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware what they’re going through” (Changes)
“All the nightmares came today, and it looks as though they’re here to stay” (Oh! You Pretty Things)
“It’s a god-awful small affair to the girl with the mousey hair” (Life On Mars?)
“Soon you’ll grow, so take a chance on a couple of kooks hung up on romancing” (Kooks)
“Knowledge comes with death’s release” (Quicksand)
“Just remember, lovers never lose” (Fill Your Heart)
“The same old painted lady from the brow of the superbrain” (Song for Bob Dylan)
“She’s so swishy in her satin and tat, in her frock coat and bipperty-bopperty hat” (Queen Bitch)
“And my brother lays upon the rocks, he could be dead, he could be not, he could be you. He’s chameleon, comedian, Corinthian and caricature” (The Bewley Brothers)
“My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare” (Five Years)
“Love descends on those defenseless, idiot love will spark the fusion” (Soul Love)
“Keep your ‘lectric eye on me, babe” (Moonage Daydream)
“There’s a starman waiting in the sky, he’d like to come and meet us but he thinks he’d blow our minds” (Starman)
“It ain’t easy to get to heaven when you’re going down” (It Ain’t Easy)
“Ooh, how I sighed when they asked if I knew his name” (Lady Stardust)
“If you think we’re gonna make it, you better hang on to yourself” (Hang on to Yourself)
“He could lick ’em by smiling, he could leave ’em to hang. He came on so loaded, man, well-hung and snow-white tan” (Ziggy Stardust)
“Don’t lean on me, man, ’cause you can’t afford the ticket” (Suffragette City)
“Gimme your hands, ’cause you’re wonderful” (Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide)
“The television man is crazy, saying we’re juvenile delinquent wrecks” (All The Young Dudes)
“He talks like a jerk but he could eat you with a fork and spoon” (Watch That Man)
“Watching him dash away, swinging an old bouquet (dead roses), sake and strange divine” (Aladdin Sane)
“It’s a crash course for the ravers” (Drive-In Saturday)
“He looked a lot like Che Guevara, drove a diesel van” (Panic in Detroit)
“Forget that I’m fifty ’cause you just got paid” (Cracked Actor)
“But love has left you dreamless, the door to dreams was closed” (Time)
“Sits like a man, but he smiles like a reptile” (Jean Genie)
“And when the clothes are strewn, don’t be afraid of the room” (Lady Grinning Soul)
“Fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats” (Future Legend)
“You’ll catch your death in the fog” (Diamond Dogs)
“Like a portrait in flesh, who trails on a leash” (Sweet Thing)
“We’ll pretend we’re walking home ’cause your future’s at stake. My set is amazing, it even smells like a street” (Candidate)
“Then let it be, it’s all I ever wanted, it’s a street with a deal and a taste” (Sweet Thing [Reprise])
“Rebel Rebel, your face is a mess” (Rebel Rebel)
“Something kind of hit me today, I looked at you and wondered if you saw things my way” (We Are the Dead)
“They’ll split your pretty cranium and fill it full of air” (1984)
“He’ll build a glass asylum, with just a hint of mayhem” (Big Brother)
“We live for just these twenty years, do we have to die for the fifty more?” (Young Americans)
“Someone like you should not be allowed to start any fires” (Win)
“I know that people think that I’m a little crazy” (Fascination)
“Never no turning back” (Right)
“Soul shine, so divine” (Somebody Up There Likes Me)
“Is it any wonder I reject you first?” (Fame)
“Nobody can break their bondage, everyone can feel their chains” (Who Can I Be Now?)
“It’s not the side-effects of the cocaine, I’m thinking that it must be love” (Station to Station)
“Run for the shadows in these golden years” (Golden Years)
“In this age of grand delusion, you walked into my life out of my dreams” (Word on a Wing)
“One of these nights I may just, jump down that rainbow way” (TVC 15)
“Maybe I’ll take something to help me, hope someone takes after me” (Stay)
“With your kiss my life begins” (Wild Is the Wind)
“You’re such a wonderful person, but you’ve got problems” (Breaking Glass)
“I’m just a little bit afraid of you” (What in the World)
“Blue, blue, ‘lectric blue, that’s the colour of my room” (Sound and Vision)
“Must have been touching close to 94” (Always Crashing in the Same Car)
“I’ve lived all over the world, I’ve left every place” (Be My Wife)
“I wanted no distractions, like every good boy should” (Beauty and the Beast)
“A couple of drinks on the house and he was a fortune teller” (Joe the Lion)
“I, I can remember, standing by the wall, and the guns shot above our heads, and we kissed as though nothing could fall” (“Heroes”)
“Rise for a year or two then make war, search through their one inch thoughts then decide it couldn’t be done” (Sons of the Silent Age)
“Your lips cut a smile on your face” (Blackout)
“You must see the movie, the sand in my eyes, I walk through a desert song when the heroine dies” (The Secret Life of Arabia)
“And the wrong words make you listen, in this criminal world” (Fantastic Voyage)
“I’m not a moody guy, I walk without a sound” (Yassassin [Turkish for: Long Live])
“Graffiti on the wall keep us all in tune, bringing us all back home” (Red Sails)
“I am a DJ, I am what I play” (DJ)
“The speaker was an angel” (Look Back in Anger)
“Clothes always fit ya, life is a pop of the cherry when you’re a boy” (Boys Keep Swinging)
“And he looks straight through you when you ask him how the kids are” (Repetition)
“Like a nervous disease, it will tumble from the sky” (Red Money)

1980’s

“Draw the blinds on yesterday, and it’s all so much scarier” (It’s No Game [Part 1])
“More idols than realities” (Up the Hill Backwards)
“She asked for my love and I gave her a dangerous mind” (Scary Monsters [And Super Creeps])
“Time and again I tell myself, I’ll stay clean tonight, but the little green wheels are following me” (Ashes to Ashes)
“It’s big and it’s bland, full of tension and fear” (Fashion)
“They can’t do this to me, I’m not some piece of teenage wildlife” (Teenage Wildlife)
“A million dreams, a million scars” (Because You’re Young)
“I catch the paper boy, but things don’t really change” (Modern Love)
“I stumble into town just like a sacred cow” (China Girl)
“If you should fall, into my arms, and tremble like a flower” (Let’s Dance)
“These tears can never dry, a judgement made can never bend” (Cat People [Putting Out Fire])
“Been wondering what to say but my eyes do the talking so well” (Shake It)
“And your prayers, they break the sky in two” (Loving the Alien)
“Lipstick traces on his name” (Don’t Look Down)
“And he just shouts in anger, you’ll find him interesting” (Neighbourhood Threat)
“She got a camouflaged face and no money” (Blue Jean)
“Strangers come and go, it’s such a waste of time” (Tumble and Twirl)
“Where there’s trouble there’s poetry” (Dancing with the Big Boys)
“Snowman melting from the inside” (This Is Not America)
“If our love song, could fly over mountains, could laugh at the oceans, just like the films” (Absolute Beginners)
“She was born in a handbag, love left on a doorstep” (Day-In, Day-Out)
“I know a government man, he was as blind as the moon” (Time Will Crawl)
“Life is like a broken arrow, memory a swinging door” (Shining Star [Makin’ My Love])

1990’s

“Where the flesh meets the spirit world” (You’ve Been Around)
“There will be some blood, no doubt about it, we shall come through, don’t doubt it” (Black Tie White Noise)
“My friend don’t listen to the crowd, they say jump” (Jump They Say)
“With only one promise, only one way to fall” (Nite Flights)
“Haven’t got a death wish, just want a little more” (Miracle Goodnight)
“You haunt in mind not fade away” (Don’t Let Me Down & Down)
“She’s not mine for eternity, though I’ll never fly so high” (The Wedding Song)
“Full of blood, loving life and all it’s got to give” (Buddha of Suburbia)
“Shimi Kapoor, please steal these tears” (Untitled No. 1)
“Something in our blood, something in our skies” (The Hearts Filthy Lessons)
“And prayer can’t travel so far these days” (A Small Plot of Land)
“Do you like girls or boys? It’s confusing these days” (Hello Spaceboy)
“A complex fashion for a simple man” (The Motel)
“And the wheels are turning, turning, for the finger points at me” (I Have Not Been to Oxford Town)
“I should live my life on bended knee, if I can’t control my destiny” (No Control)
“The screw is a tightening atrocity, I shake for the reeking flesh is romantic as hell” (The Voyeur of Utter Destruction [As Beauty])
“The pain must feel like snow” (Wishful Beginnings)
“Want to be screwing when the nightmare comes” (We Prick You)
“And the rain sets in, it’s the angel-man” (I’m Deranged)
“All the concrete dreams in my mind’s eye” (Thru’ These Architects Eyes)
“Cold tired fingers, tapping out your memories” (Strangers When We Meet)
“Mars happy nation, sit on my karma, Dame meditation, take me away” (Little Wonder)
“My, my, the time do fly when it’s in another pair of hands” (Battle for Britain [The Letter])
“And I’m holding your brains, the old woman said” (Seven Years in Tibet)
“Now I’m older than movies, let me dance away, now I’m wiser than dreams” (Dead Man Walking)
“Shadow falls in shrinking smiles” (Telling Lies)
“No one needs anyone, they don’t even just pretend” (I’m Afraid of Americans)
“I don’t want knowledge, I want certainty” (Law [Earthlings on Fire])
“Seeing my past to let it go” (Thursday’s Child)
“Lived with the best times, left with the worst” (Something in the Air)
“I’ve got ears and eyes and nothing in my life” (Survive)
“Was it air she breathed?” (If I’m Dreaming My Life)
“The gods forgot they made me, so I forgot them too” (Seven)
“Grown inside a plastic box, micro thoughts and safety locks” (What’s Really Happening)
“Don’t hold your breath, but the pretty things are going to hell” (The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell)
“With his head inclined, and he’s always in decline” (The Dreamers)

2000’s

“Nothing remains” (Sunday)
“Don’t forget to keep your head warm” (Slip Away)
“Where the price for our minds shall squeeze them tight as a fist” (Slow Burn)
“I used to wake up the ocean, I used to walk on clouds” (Afraid)
“A woman with a feeling of losing once or twice” (I’ve Been Waiting for You)
“Do you laugh out loud at me?” (I Would Be Your Slave)
“I’m jumping tracks, I’m changing towns” (5:15 The Angels Have Gone)
“Shoulda took a picture, something I could keep, buy a little frame, something cheap” (Everyone Says ‘Hi’)
“Steel on the skyline, sky made of glass” (Heathen [The Rays])
“Look to the stars and see his eyes” (Shadow Man)
“Oh my nuclear baby, oh my idiot trance” (New Killer Star)
“The girls would turn the colour of a juicy avocado” (Pablo Picasso)
“The sky splits open to a dull red skull” (Never Get Old)
“But I lost God in a New York minute” (Looking for Water)
“I gave nothing in return, and there’s little left of me” (Days)
“Now my death is more than just a sad song” (Reality)
“We could dance, dance, dance through the fire” (Bring Me the Disco King)

2010’s

“Here I am, not quite dying, my body left to rot in a hollow tree” (The Next Day)
“This ain’t the moon this is burnin’ sun” (Dirty Boys)
“We will never be rid of these stars, but I hope they live forever” (The Stars [Are Out Tonight])
“Say hello to the lunatic men, tell them your secrets, they’re like the grave” (Love Is Lost)
“Fingers crossed just in case, walking the dead” (Where Are We Now?)
“It’s in his tiny face, it’s in his scrawny hand” (Valentine’s Day)
“I have seen these bairns wave their fists at God, swear to destroy the beast” (If You Can See Me)
“Just remember duckies, everybody gets got” (I’d Rather Be High)
“Something like religion, dancing face to face” (Dancing Out in Space)
“Would you still love me if the clocks could go backwards?” (How Does the Grass Grow?)
“I can work the scene and I can see the magazines” ([You Will] Set the World on Fire)
“There’ll come assassin’s needle on a crowded train” (You Feel So Lonely You Could Die)
“But I am a seer, I am a liar” (Heat)
“All of the things that are my life, my desire, my beliefs, my moods” (No Plan)
“Something happened on the day he died, spirit rose a metre and stepped aside” (Blackstar)
“Man, she punched me like a dude” (‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore)
“Look up here, I’m in heaven” (Lazarus)
“In a season of crime none need atone” (Sue [Or in a Season of Crime])
“Where the fuck did Monday go?” (Girl Loves Me)
“I’m dying to push their backs against the grain, and fool them all again and again” (Dollar Days)
“This is all I ever meant, that’s the message that I sent” (I Can’t Give Everything Away)

Aaand that’s my list! Hopefully you enjoyed this showcase of lyrical talent – maybe it’ll inspire you to write your own song!

You can check out some of my latest blog posts below:

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