On November 18th, 2014, David Bowie released a 3-disc compilation album entitled Nothing Has Changed. A new David Bowie compilation album is not really something to be celebrated, as Wikipedia currently lists 49 of them, with surely more to come. What was interesting about this one though is that it was truly career spanning (including a song that would eventually make it’s way to his final album Blackstar), contained a number of rare tracks, and was sequenced in reverse chronological order. In the modern world of streaming, these are nonsense words, but for an older rock snob like myself, it was a fun way to experience and re-experience the material.
BUT WHO CARES WHAT OLD CRUSTY DUDES THINK? I wanna know how Bowie resonates with millennials dammit. Is unearthing Bowie and becoming obsessed in middle/high school or college still a music rite of passage like it has been for the past 50 years? Apparently not, because the first three BYT interns I asked about Bowie knew who he was, knew that he had died, were sure they’ve heard his music before, but two of them couldn’t name a song and all three couldn’t name an album. How would they feel about Bowie if they listened to Nothing Has Changed? If “Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)” is the first Bowie song you hear, and “Liza Jane” is the last, at what point will his genius dick slap you in the face? And what if it doesn’t? Are they gonna say they really like 90s Bowie because they know they’re supposed to like Bowie in general? Are they actually going to like 90s Bowie? Does listening to “Thursday’s Child” before “”Heroes”” warp your fragile little mind forever?
Now onto Disc 3, which covers 1975 through 1964, so let’s freak out:
Natalie age 20
Eleni age 22
Marykate age 23
[Note: a few of the videos below may not be the exact same versions of the songs from the album that they listened to, but close enough]
1. “Fame” from Young Americans (1975)
Natalie: This has a really cool bass feel, I think I’ve heard this somewhere before. It kind of reminds me of The Steve Miller Band, or I guess maybe just music from that time in general.
Eleni: I started this thinking I wouldn’t know as many songs on this disc as I did on the last. But this is definitely familiar and I really like the sound of it.
Marykate: I know this song – I like this song. This is what I thought of when I imagined what Bowie would sound like.
2. “Young Americans” from Young Americans (1975)
Natalie: Haha, this is where the name for this project comes from. Wow I really liked this, I liked it more and more the further I got into the song! Also the backup was a great addition to the song, I would’ve liked it without it, but it really added!
Eleni: This is really different from the songs on the last disc, for me at least. It’s really catchy though and enjoyable to listen to. I also now get the meaning behind the title of these articles.
Marykate: Ehhh no thank you, not for me. Gather your pitchforks?
3. “Diamond Dogs” from Diamond Dogs (1974)
Natalie: This was good, but not my favorite. I like the instrumentals in this one a lot. Not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but this also sounds like something I would have loved to play on Guitar Hero!
Eleni: This is very ~ groovy. Bowie’s voice sounds different here than in some of his other songs, it’s not as recognizable. I really like this though, I’d listen to it on my own time.
Marykate: The instrumental around 3 minutes in saved this song for me. I can’t really see myself listening to it on my own, but it is generally enjoyable.
4. “Rebel Rebel” from Diamond Dogs (1974)
Natalie: This intro is super cool. I liked this song, but other than that I don’t have many thoughts on it. I also think I’ve heard this somewhere before.
Eleni: One of my roommates said that I would like this song. I’ve already listened to it prior to this so this isn’t my first impression of it. She was right, I really like it and think it’s catchy and fun.
Marykate: The lyrics – not sure what to make of them. I would definitely be offended if someone said a number of these things to me. It’s a great song though.
5. “Sorrow” from Pin Ups (1973)
Natalie: The saxophone and violin (I think) in this are both really great! The intro sounds really familiar, too.
Eleni: I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this but it was nice – short and sweet.
Marykate: After listening to several discs of his greatest hits – I am realizing that he must be nearly impossible to define by one musical genre. This disc sounds so different from the first two. I assumed I would only be listening to only rock and roll while listening to Bowie.
6. “Drive-In Saturday” from Aladdin Sane (1973)
Natalie: Not too bad, it’s kind of melancholic feeling. While I was looking at the lyrics, it’s seems like kind of sad story.
Eleni: I think I’ve formed a bias against saxophones in most of Bowie’s songs so they kind of spoiled this one for me. I did like the parts where you could hear more of the guitar in the background.
Marykate: Not totally sure what to make of this song. This disc seems more consistent in its sound so far than the others. But, like I mentioned above – it’s not the rock and roll I was expecting.
7. “All The Young Dudes [Stereo Mix]” from Aladdin Sane (1973)
Natalie: Wow his voice sounds different here! This one is more sad than the last somehow.
Eleni: I like the progression of this and also the fact that he repeats “all the young dudes” so much.
Marykate: Not totally sure what to make of ANY of these songs. I guess earlier in this project I had not comprehended what a long span of time this greatest hits covered, and how the music would change with the times. Dig the lyrics though.
8. “The Jean Genie [Single Mix]” from Aladdin Sane (1973); single mix from 1972
Natalie: Hmmm, I’m not sure how I feel about this. It’s repetitive so it’s not my favorite, but i’ve heard other ones that I disliked a lot more from him.
Eleni: I think I saw this once on a Spotify playlist of songs about jeans. The Jean Genie sounds like a cool dude.
Marykate: Fuck yes. I don’t know what a Jean Genie is but I am about it
9. “Moonage Daydream” from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1972)
Natalie: I like the piano; that and the lyrics kind of remind me of amped up Billy Joel from the same time.
Eleni: I listened more closely to the lyrics in this and they had me wondering what the music video to this would look like. The noises in the background of the guitar solo at the end are pretty freaky but I guess they fall into line with the song as a whole.
Marykate: I want to know how famous Bowie was at this point. Was he even famous yet? Going in with very little knowledge of Bowie makes listening to this music an interesting, yet confusing experience. I definitely love this song, I wonder if it was a hit.
10. “Ziggy Stardust” from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1972)
Natalie: I was feelin’ it until the singing started. I don’t really like his voice in this song, I’m not sure what it is, but it felt like it was getting inside my brain or something and kind of sending shivers down my spine.
Eleni: When I tried to learn more about David Bowie before this project (!!) I read about Ziggy Stardust. I think I listened to this song too, but I don’t remember it that well. I like it though, especially the guitar.
Marykate: Did he just say god-given ass? I’m pretty sure he did. This song is alright – I’d probably like it better if I were listening to it on a better sound system.
11. “Starman [Single mix]” from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1972)
Natalie: This song is making me laugh for some reason. I really like it though – it has energy to it, but not too much that it couldn’t make it on to that Sunday afternoon playlist.
Eleni: I have to admit I didn’t start to like this until the part that was familiar started (aka the chorus). But when it started it was all good from there!
Marykate: This song is pretty boring. Not a lot of thoughts on it. It does get better towards the end with the guitar.
12. “Life On Mars? [Ken Scott Mix]” from Hunky Dory (1971); remix from 2003
Natalie: This is a lot of piano, very Billy Joel and Elton John-esque. With that being said, this is great! This is one is one of my favorites that I’ve heard so far, despite the strange story the lyrics are telling.
Eleni: When this started I was kind of uneasy about how I felt about this but I grew to like it. I like how you can hear/understand the lyrics quite well in this.
Marykate: Another song I recognize. I like it. I think this song would be hard not to like.
13. “Oh! You Pretty Things” from Hunky Dory (1971)
Natalie: OooOHh more piano! These are getting better and better! This was even better than the last one (I’m partial to like songs with a lot of piano in them).
Eleni: Just from the title I was expecting something a little more poppy (that’s what exclamation points do to you I guess). Aha wait, it started to change tempo halfway through.
Marykate: I dig it. Very relaxed song with good piano.
14. “Changes” from Hunky Dory (1971)
Natalie: Hasn’t everyone seen Shrek 2?! I’m only kidding (slightly), I knew this song before that movie. But of course this one is amazing!
Eleni: This I know, this I like. I know I’ve said this a lot, but I really would not have expected this to be by David Bowie.
Marykate: Well – this is embarrassing. I had no idea this was Bowie! Great song.
15. “The Man Who Sold The World” from The Man Who Sold The World (1970)
Natalie: This isn’t too bad, definitely not along the same lines as the last few songs. I don’t hate it, but I don’t like it a lot.
Eleni: So I like the story that the lyrics is writing but I don’t think I like the sound of this as much.
Marykate: I know this song too. Again, didn’t know it was Bowie. Again, great song. Bowie really is a musical mastermind.
16. “Space Oddity” from David Bowie (1969)
Natalie: Before I started listening I recognized the name. I have heard this before, but I had no idea THIS was Space Oddity! I feel like I should love this song because of what it is, but it’s not my favorite of his… actually this is really growing on me as I listen.
Eleni: I like this more than I expected to but I also think I’d have to be in a certain mood to listen to this – like I wouldn’t listen to it in a playlist of non-David Bowie songs.
Marykate: I know a lot more Bowie than I thought. I just never knew it was Bowie.
17. “In The Heat of the Morning” from The World of David Bowie (1970); recorded 1968https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3HbXiJdoHI
Natalie: This is not my favorite by any means, but there’s something about it that makes me want to put it on repeat!
Eleni: This is cool, it’s different from the other songs. I really like the part where he hums along to the music.
Marykate: After listening to a lot of Bowie – I am sure of one thing. This man got laid A LOT.
18. “Silly Boy Blue” from David Bowie (1967)
Natalie: This song is relaxing, the walking bass sound in the background is very methodical sounding. That’s probably not what I was supposed to be paying attention to in the song, but I was hypnotized by it.
Eleni: This felt a little dragged out at times. Maybe I’m not in the right headspace to listen to it? I don’t want to say I dislike it.
Marykate: Just waiting for this song to be over…
19. “Can’t Help Thinking About Me” from non-album single (1966)
Natalie: This didn’t really stand out at all, it was just kind of awash among a bunch of great ones on this disc.
Eleni: I like this. The chorus reminds me of a Beatles song (in a very general sense) but that’s probably because I don’t have a lot of reference points to music in this time period.
Marykate: Bowie’s voice changes so much over this greatest hits album. It really feels like you hear him go from an old man to a young boy.
20. “You’ve Got A Habit of Leaving” from non-album single (1965)
Natalie: Once the song ended it left me thinking, “that was it?” Compared to his other work this did not stand up.
Eleni: I don’t love this but I don’t hate it.
Marykate: I really like this. It sounds so classic.
21. “Liza Jane” from non-album single (1964)
Natalie: Once I feel like I have his music figured out, something comes along like this. If I listened to this on its own, I would have no clue that this was Bowie’s song.
Eleni: I really liked this, especially the instrumental parts. It’s very danceable.
Marykate: Pre-song thoughts: Ahh. The last song. This is making me very sad for some reason.
Post-song: Can someone take me back so I can see this live? Preferably at the Black Cat. I love this song. I think I love Bowie too.
INTERN FINAL THOUGHTS
Natalie: I think I’m a little partial to the music on this just disc because of when it’s from. My parents play this kind of stuff all the time, so I’m way more inclined to like it than some of the stuff he put out later. This my favorite disc by far!
I was a bigger fan of the first and last discs over the second. I liked listening to it backwards because it helped me see the digression of his work from end to beginning rather than the other way. I think I may have been disappointed if I listened to it the opposite way; these songs at the end are his most famous so it was kind of a build-up to the greats! To my own surprise and personal gain I really enjoy Bowie’s music, despite not loving every song, I can appreciate the music and why people admire him and his talent. Before starting this I thought I would have to drag my feet in the mud a little bit, but this was awesome to get this huge overview of his amazing work!
Eleni: As was predicted, I didn’t recognize as many songs on here as I did in the second disc.
But after listening to Nothing Has Changed in its entirety I feel like a more well rounded music listener and person in general. I think I can kind of speak for other people my age when I say that it’s hard to know where to start if you want to start listening to someone like David Bowie, an artist with a long and successful career. I enjoyed his music more than I expected to.
Disc one- least favorite collection of his music. It didn’t really fit my taste at all or what my impression of Bowie was.
Disc two- probably the music I found the most exciting. The ones I loved on this disc I really loved.
Disc three- I have mixed feelings about this project – it has made me recognize that losing Bowie was a very real loss. It makes me sad and somehow nostalgic, despite the fact that I couldn’t name one Bowie song before this. When Bowie died, I didn’t really feel much, and now I definitely do. I think I could even say that I am Bowie fan.