David Bowie was a legendary rock star and champion for self love and individuality. Over the course of his decades long career, he reinvented himself time and again. He evolved his image as often as he evolved his music, bending and blending genres and defying stereotypes as he brought as long his journey of self discovery.
Bowie was not shy about his success. He spoke openly about his talent, making sure never to take it for granted. He lived his life in full embrace of himself and the times. He inspired generations of young people who had never seen a performer so uniquely himself as Bowie.
In some ways, Bowie was ahead of his time. In others, he arrived just in time, his forward-thinking fashions and musicality pushing the envelope of cultural progress worldwide.
Bowie was taken from us far too early at the hands of liver cancer. He died at the age of 69 in January 2016.
Thankfully, he’s left a legacy of music memorable quotes to inspire us to carry on the great work that he started. Here are a list of some of the most poignant and impactful David Bowie quotes from his outstanding life.
- When I was 18, I thought that, to be a romantic, you couldn’t live past 30.
- Age doesn’t bother me. So many of my heroes were older guys. It’s the lack of years left that weighs far heavier on me than the age that I am.
- As you get older, the questions come down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I’ve got left?
- I’m well past the age where I’m acceptable. You get to a certain age and you are forbidden access. You’re not going to get the kind of coverage that you would like in music magazines, you’re not going to get played on the radio and you’re not going to get played on television. I have to survive on word of mouth.
- Everything I read about hitting a midlife crisis was true. I had such a struggle letting go of youthful things and learning how to exist and have enthusiasm while settling into the comfort of an older age.
- I don’t have a problem with aging – in fact, I embrace that aspect of it. And am able to and obviously am going to be able to quite easily… it doesn’t faze me at all.
- I’m in awe of the universe, but I don’t necessarily believe there’s an intelligence or agent behind it. I do have a passion for the visual in religious rituals, though, even though they may be completely empty and bereft of substance. The incense is powerful and provocative, whether Buddhist or Catholic.
- Questioning my spiritual life has always been germane to what I was writing. Always. It’s because I’m not quite an atheist and it worries me. There’s that little bit that holds on: ‘Well, I’m almost an atheist. Give me a couple of months.’
- An armchair Jungian would say the whole thing is about my own ongoing spiritual search. My interior life has always been one of trying to find a spiritual link, maybe because I’m from a family of separate religious philosophies: Protestant and Catholic.
On Making Music
- It amazes me sometimes that even intelligent people will analyze a situation or make a judgement after only recognizing the standard or traditional structure of a piece.
- Sometimes you stumble across a few chords that put you in a reflective place.
- I do some kind of work, whether writing or painting or recording, on a daily basis. And it’s so essential that when I’m involved in the actual process, my so-called ‘real life’ becomes almost incidental, which becomes worrying.
- A song has to take on character, shape, body and influence people to an extent that they use it for their own devices. It must affect them not just as a song, but as a lifestyle.
- Searching for music is like searching for God. They’re very similar. There’s an effort to reclaim the unmentionable, the unsayable, the unseeable, the unspeakable, all those things, comes into being a composer and writing music and searching for notes and pieces of musical information that don’t exist.
- There are half a dozen subjects that I return to time and time again, and that doesn’t bother me. Because most of my favorite writers do that, to hunt down the same topic or theme from different directions each time.
- There, in the chords and melodies, is everything I want to say. The words just jolly it along. It’s always been my way of expressing what, for me, is inexpressible by any other means.
- On the other hand, what I like my music to do to me is awaken the ghosts inside of me. Not the demons, you understand, but the ghosts.
- I’m an early riser. I get up between five and six, have coffee, and read for a couple of hours before everyone else gets up.
- I don’t see any boundaries between any of the art forms. I think they all inter-relate completely.
- However, there’s no theme or concept behind Heathen, just a number of songs but somehow there is a thread that runs through it that is quite as strong as any of my thematic type albums.
- All art really does is keep you focused on questions of humanity, and it really is about how do we get on with our maker.
- When I’m stuck for a closing to a lyric, I will drag out my last resort: overwhelming illogic.
- There’s an effort to reclaim the unmentionable, the unsayable, the unspeakable, all those things come into being a composer, into writing music, into searching for notes and pieces of musical information that don’t exist.
- I wish myself to be a prop, if anything, for my songs. I want to be the vehicle for my songs. I would like to color the material with as much visual expression as is necessary for that song.
- Once I’ve written something it does tend to run away from me. I don’t seem to have any part of it – it’s no longer my piece of writing.
- Strangely, some songs you really don’t want to write.
- Frankly, I mean, sometimes the interpretations I’ve seen on some of the songs that I’ve written are a lot more interesting than the input that I put in.
- These are all personal crises, I’m sure, that I manifest in a song format and project into physical situations. You make little stories up about how you feel. It’s as simple as that.
On Self Acceptance
- I’m just an individual who doesn’t feel that I need to have somebody qualify my work in any particular way. I’m working for me.
- All my big mistakes are when I try to second-guess or please an audience. My work is always stronger when I get very selfish about it.
- I had to resign myself, many years ago, that I’m not too articulate when it comes to explaining how I feel about things. But my music does it for me, it really does.
- Art was, seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own. It has always been for me a stable nourishment. I use it. It can change the way that I feel in the mornings.
- I change my mind a lot. I usually don’t agree with what I say very much. I’m an awful liar.
- What I have is a malevolent curiosity. That’s what drives my need to write and what probably leads me to look at things a little askew. I do tend to take a different perspective from most people.
- It would be my guess that Madonna is not a very happy woman. From my own experience, having gone through persona changes like that, that kind of clawing need to be the center of attention is not a pleasant place to be.
- I re-invented my image so many times that I’m in denial that I was originally an overweight Korean woman.
- Even though I was very shy, I found I could get onstage if I had a new identity.
- Glam really did plant seeds for a new identity. I think a lot of kids needed that – that sense of reinvention. Kids learned that however crazy you may think it is, there is a place for what you want to do and who you want to be.
- Anxiety and spiritual searching have been consistent themes with me, and that figures into my worldview. But I tend to make my songs sound like relationship songs.
- I don’t have stylistic loyalty. That’s why people perceive me changing all the time. But there is a real continuity in my subject matter. As an artist of artifice, I do believe I have more integrity than any one of my contemporaries.
- As an adolescent, I was painfully shy, withdrawn. I didn’t really have the nerve to sing my songs on stage, and nobody else was doing them. I decided to do them in disguise so that I didn’t have to actually go through the humiliation of going on stage and being myself.
- I find only freedom in the realms of eccentricity.
- I’m not a prophet or a stone aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I’m living on.
- I feel confident imposing change on myself. It’s a lot more fun progressing than looking back. That’s why I need to throw curve balls.
- For me, the world that I inhabit in reality is probably a very different world than the one people expect that I would be in.
- I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human.
- When you think about it, Adolf Hitler was the first pop star.
- I realized the other day that I’ve lived in New York longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. It’s amazing: I am a New Yorker. It’s strange; I never thought I would be.
- Fame itself… doesn’t really afford you anything more than a good seat in a restaurant.
- I never could get over the fact that The Pixies formed, worked and separated without America taking them to its heart or even recognizing their existence for the most part.
- You would think that a rock star being married to a supermodel would be one of the greatest things in the world. It is.
- I’m very good at what I do, and I don’t turn my hand to something unless I’m very good at it, frankly.
- I’m always amazed that people take what I say seriously. I don’t even take what I am seriously.
- The truth is of course is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.
- Fame can take interesting men and thrust mediocrity upon them.
- I’m an instant star. Just add water and stir.
- Now I realize that from ’72 through to about ’76, I was the ultimate rock star. I couldn’t have been more rock star.
- I’m looking for backing for an unauthorized auto-biography that I am writing. Hopefully, this will sell in such huge numbers that I will be able to sue myself for an extraordinary amount of money and finance the film version in which I will play everybody.
- I don’t like to read things that people write about me. I’d rather read what kids have to say about me because it’s not their profession to do that.
- I never really felt like a rock singer or a rock star or whatever.
- I’m rather kind of old school, thinking that when an artist does his work, it’s no longer his… I just see what people make of it.
- I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.
- What I like to do is try to make a difference with the work I do.
I suppose for me as an artist it wasn’t always just about expressing my work; I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture that I was living in. It just seemed like a challenge to move it a little bit towards the way I thought it might be interesting to go.
- I’m not one of those guys that has a great worldview. I kind of deal with terror and fear and isolation and abandonment.
- Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity. So it’s like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again. You’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left.
- That’s the shock: All cliches are true. The years really do speed by. Life really is as short as they tell you it is. And there really is a God – so do I buy that one? If all the other cliches are true… Hell, don’t pose me that one.
- Pixies and Sonic Youth were so important to the eighties.
- I think in the ’70s that there was a general feeling of chaos, a feeling that the idea of the ’60s as ‘ideal’ was a misnomer. Nothing seemed ideal anymore. Everything seemed in-between.
- I believe that I often bring out the best in somebody’s talents.
- I was very into making the Big Artistic Statement – it had to be innovative; it had to be cutting edge. I was desperately keen on being original.
On the Future
- I’ve never responded well to entrenched negative thinking.
- Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.
- Confront a corpse at least once. The absolute absence of life is the most disturbing and challenging confrontation you will ever have.
- With a suit, always wear big British shoes, the ones with large welts. There’s nothing worse than dainty little Italian jobs at the end of the leg line.
- The Internet carries the flag of being subversive and possibly rebellious and chaotic, nihilistic.
- The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music will take place within 10 years, and nothing is going to be able to stop it. I see absolutely no point in pretending that it’s not going to happen. I’m fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years.
- Heathenism is a state of mind. You can take it that I’m referring to one who does not see his world. He has no mental light. He destroys almost unwittingly. He cannot feel any Gods presence in his life. He is the 21st-century man.