“Hi, this is David Bowie. It’s a bit gray today but I have some Perrier water and a bunch of records,” said the entertainer who hosted his very first radio show as a as a guest DJ for BBC Radio 1 on March 20, 1979, before kicking off his set with the Doors’ Waiting for the Sun track “Love Street”.
Over the next two hours, Bowie spun 28 of his favorite songs, adding two of his own on his then recently released album, Tenantfeaturing the tracks “Yassassin” and “Boys Keep Swinging” – taken from his own favorite stew.
Here’s a quick behind-the-song look at seven of Bowie’s favorite tracks, along with his full 28-track list and a listen to his DJ set below.
1. “Inchworm”, Danny Kaye (1952)
Written by Frank Loesser
Also known as “The Inch Worm”, the song was originally performed by Danny Kaye in the 1952 film. Hans Christian Andersen. Written by Loesser, who has written many Broadway hits (guys and dolls, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) and Hollywood, winning an Oscar for the Christmas song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, which appeared in the 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter– the song is a subtle nod to the idea of ”stopping to smell the roses” with arithmetic lyrics for kids.
Two and two make four
four and four is eight
Eight and eight is sixteen
Sixteen and sixteen is thirty-two
Inchworm, inchworm (two and two is four)
Measure worries (four and four is eight)
You and your arithmetic (eight and eight is sixteen)
You’ll probably go far (sixteen and sixteen are thirty two)
2. “That’s My Star”, Little Richard (1961)
Written by Richard Penniman (Little Richard)
On Little Richard’s sixth album, The king of gospel singersproduced by Quincy Jones, “He’s My Star” was one of several tracks written or co-written by Richard for the album, which was a continuation of his departure from rock and roll and embracing his more gospel roots. after joining the ministry in 1957.
“It was exactly the kind of music I had always wanted to record,” Richard said of the album in the 2003 book. The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Authorized Biography by Charles White. “After its release, offers for gospel concerts started pouring in.”
3. “96 tears”, question mark and the mysterious (1966)
Written by Rudy Martinez
“Question Mark and The Mysterians’ ’96 Tears’, which no one has in their record collection,” Bowie laughed, introducing the garage band’s track. “Actually, they got it here. It is an extraordinary piece of music. There was another amazing [band] called [The] 13th floor elevators. I don’t remember that one very well. It was around the same time, I believe. I guess some punk freak will kind of correct me on that.
The title track from the band’s 1966 debut follows a man who wanted to get back together with a woman who dumped him to make her cry… “96 Tears.” Written by Rudy Martinez (Question Mark), “96 Tears” is often considered one of the garage band’s first hits. The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States and was the biggest hit for rockers from Michigan.
Although the group only remained together from 1962 to 1969, they released a second album, Stock, in 1967. ? & The Mysterians then reunited to re-record the entirety of 96 Tears and several other tracks on a self-titled album in 1997 with the follow-up, More actionin 1999 (which included two previously unreleased tracks) after the band no longer had access to their master recordings.
4. “Tellin’ Lies”, The Staple Sisters (1973)
Written by Bettye Crutcher and Carl Smith
Hitmakers with “I’ll Take You There,” “Respect Yourself” and “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me),” The Staple Sisters call out the group effects of telling untruths on “Tellin’ Lies”—telling lies can only get you a short time. The track was a B-side to Sisters’ 1973 soul album, Be what you aree, which peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Top Soul LPs chart.
“Here are three girls who have a very musical dad and one of the girls is very, very sexy and I keep playing his records over and over when I’m alone,” Bowie said. “It’s The Staple Singers and it’s called ‘Tellin’ Lies.’ She breathes really well, doesn’t she? So I mean, the guy from Roxy Music jumps better, but she can really breathe, she breathes well.
5. “It’s hard to be a saint in the city”, Bruce Springsteen (1973)
Written by Bruce Springsteen
“After hearing that track, I never took the subway again,” Bowie said. “It’s called ‘It’s hard to be a saint in the city.’ It really scared the living out of me.
The closing track from Springsteen’s 1973 debut, Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ, “It’s hard to be a saint in the city” is the story of a young man who grows up on the streets of the city trying to do the right thing before being dragged into more deeds” godless”. A From station to station previously unheard from the 1975 album, Bowie then released his cover of Springsteen’s song on his first box set, Sound + Visionin 1989.
I had skin like leather and eyes hard like a cobra’s diamond
I was born blue and weathered but exploded like a supernova
I could walk like Brando to the sun, then dance like a Casanova
With my blackjack and my jacket and my slicked back hair
Silver star studs on my duds, just like a Harley in heat
When I strutted down the street, I could feel her heart beating
The sisters pulled back and said, “Isn’t this man pretty”
The local cripple shouted, “Nickels for your pity”
So the gas guys downtown speak straight
It’s so hard to be a saint in the city
6. “TV Eye”, Iggy Pop (1977)
Written by Iggy Pop & The Stooges
The title track from Pop’s solo live album, TV Eye Live 1977 was produced by Bowie, who also appears on backing vocals and keyboards on several tracks. For the live album, Pop pulled from his solo and Stooges catalog, including “Funtime”, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and his “Lust for Life”, the latter co-written by Bowie during musical and sober research. of the couple. stay in Berlin between 1976 and 1979, when the two recorded and released three albums each. Also on the album is one of Bowie’s personal favorites, “TV Eye”, which first appeared on the Stooges’ second album. fun house in 1970.
The live album drew songs from Pop’s 1977 US live performances at The Aragon in Chicago, The Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Missouri, and The Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio.
“A buddy of mine, Iggy Pop, that’s just something I remember fondly,” Bowie said during his DJ set, “because that’s when I was with him on tour playing the piano for him, this one is called ‘TV Eye’.'”
7. “Warning Sign”, Talking Heads (1978)
Written by David Byrne
“Here’s a band that I look up to very much, very lovely people, David Byrne in particular,” Bowie said before performing the band’s “Warning Sign” on their second album. More songs about buildings and food in 1978. “We’re talking Talking Heads, of course… playing the band’s ‘Warning Sign,’ a left-field track few would choose.”
Like Roxy Music, which landed two songs on the Bowie set, Talking Heads received another whirlwind later when they shot “The Book I Read,” released a year earlier after their debut. Talking heads: 77.
“It was Talking Heads,” Bowie said after playing a second track from them. “You see, they are different for me. I mean, they’re actually going to read the books. They never read any wall, yet I read them on a wall, next to Kierkegaard.
In order of how Bowie played them on the BBC, here is the full list of Bowie’s favorite songs, circa 1979:
- “Love Street”, the doors
- “TV Eye”, Iggy Pop
- “Remember”, John Lennon
- “96 Tears”, Question Mark and The Mysterians
- “Nursery Suite”, Elgar
- “Inchworm”, Danny Kaye
- “Act III: Prison of first instance”, Ensemble Philip Glass
- “Sweet Jane”, Velvet Underground
- “Helen Fordsdale”, March
- “It’s my star”, Little Richard
- “The Schizoid Man of the 21st Century”, King Crimson
- “Warning sign”, talking heads
- “Beck’s Bolero”, Jeff Beck
- “Try some, buy some”, Ronnie Spector
- “20th Century Boy”, T-Rex
- “Where have you been?” The Mekons
- “Big City Cat”, Steve Forbert
- “We love you”, the Rolling Stones
- “2 HB”, Roxy Music
- “It’s hard to be a saint in the city”, Bruce Springsteen
- “Fingertips”, Stevie Wonder
- “Rip Her to Shreds”, Blondie
- “Magnificent Loser”, Bob Seger
- “The Boys Keep Rocking”, David Bowie
- “Yassassin”, David Bowie
- “The Book I Read”, Talking Heads
- “For Your Pleasure”, Roxy Music
- “Something in Mind”, King Curtis
- “Tellin’ Lies”, the basic singers
Photo: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images