David Bowie's Ten Weirdest Tracks

You thought Space Oddity was out there? Wait until you get a load of The Laughing Gnome...
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You thought Space Oddity was out there? Wait until you get a load of The Laughing Gnome...

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David Bowie isn’t real. He does not exist. He is a celestial being not from this dimension. It is only by his wish that we are allowed to see him. He has adapted himself into human form so that our tiny minds can glimpse at just a snippet of what he has allowed us to see.

For the decades-long timespan Bowie has been releasing music, he has embraced genres, styles and tastes to adapt to his own curiosities, rather than to ours. I hardly need to tell you about his fashion sense. I hardly need to tell you anything about him at all. He is so ingrained into the psyche of modern music, culture and art that it would be almost an insult to these manifestations of human intellectual achievements to criticise anything. Bearing that in mind, here are his top ten weirdest tunes. Enjoy...

10: The Laughing Gnome

1967 saw the release of The Laughing Gnome, which many fans argue is the worst song he has ever recorded. For his 1990 world tour when Bowie suggested that his fans should vote via phone which tracks he should play, The Laughing Gnome was the most requested. He refused to play it.

9: Ragazza Solo, Ragazza Solo

This is Space Oddity, but in Italian.

8; Peter and the Wolf

Ever thought to yourself on a frost bitten wintry afternoon, “You know who’d be good at narrating the entire story of Peter and the Wolf set to a classical composition? David Bowie. How I Long to hear the great wizard king read the accompanying fairy-tale to Sergei Prokofiev's 1936 composition.”

It’s fantastically creepy, but oddly compelling.

7: Sell Me A Coat

Nearly three whole minutes of sixties British twee pop glory. In this solid hair-raising banger of a tune, the great rock god harps on majestically about how much he needs a coat. A big coat. One with “buttons of silver…that’s red or gold…with little patch pockets…’cause I feel cold”

6: Alabama Song/Crystal Japan

Both these were released as a single package A and B Side in 1980. The A side (Alabama Song) is a terrifying cover of The Doors' classic. David’s singing borders on the psychotic scale and the instrumentation is jaunty and eclectic. The B side (Crystal Japan) is an entirely instrumental piece now known primarily for Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame “accidentally” ripping it off for his own song, “A Warm Place.” Sure mate. Sure.

More...
David Bowie And The Berlin Trilogy
I Think David Bowie's Rubbish


5: African Night Flight

Now we're getting to the business section of the article. As we move away from the novelty gimmicky tracks that are considered weird due to their incongruity, we start to approach his “I’m not even sure what this is to be honest” tracks..

African Night Flight is an experimental piece of world music featured on his shockingly underrated 13th studio album, Lodger. David and his son Zowie Bowie (now Duncan Jones) were on an African field trip in Kenya. Bowie Snr became fascinated with the music and culture of the region. Sampling its tribal drum patterns, hypnotic rhythms and African chanting, it’s a seductive listen.

4: Truth

David Bowie kind of went AWOL in the 90s. However there is something rather hypnotising about his featured guest vocals on “Truth”, the second track on Goldie’s self-indulgent masterpiece Saturnz Return. Listening to it takes you back to the nineties in style. It does however go on for fourteen minutes…with a possible hidden bonus track at the end....

3: Baal's Hymn

In 1982 Bowie was commissioned by the BBC to write the songs for the television adaption of Bertolt Brecht's play Baal; a story of a misanthropic poet feeling trapped by the modern conventions of society. He roams the countryside, fighting men, impregnating women and subsequently abandoning them. About three quarters of the way through the play he murders his best friend, becomes a fugitive from the police and decides to live in a forest. He dies alone. This is the accompanying musical EP for such a production. I have chosen the opening song as a gentle introduction to the EP, all of which you can find on YouTube. Orchestrated, grandiose and intelligent, although abrasively unwelcoming.

Check out the bleak, bizarre but brilliant lyrics as well

And when Baal saw lots of corpses scattered round
/He felt twice the thrill, despite the lack of room
/"Space enough" said Baal, "Then I'll thicken the ground
/"Space enough within this woman's womb"

2: Yassasin

Turkish for “Long Live”. The third single from Lodger, which failed to chart in any country. I have a special fondness for this particular track. When I was about nine this was the first David Bowie song I ever heard. I absolutely hated it. I thought he couldn’t sing and animals with no opposable thumbs were playing the instruments. I laugh every time I hear this again. You’ve got to start your Bowie journey somewhere.

1- Seven Years In Tibet (Mandarin Version)

Aldous Huxley once said that, "After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." Trying to express what it's like listening to David Bowie sing one of his forgotten singles from the nineties in his best Mandarin is a different kettle of fish. All I can say is thank you for this, whether comedically or musically.