Bowdoin Faculty Remember David Bowie, Recall Favorite Songs

The death of David Bowie this week at the age of 69 has sparked tributes and remembrances the world over. Assistant Professor of Music Tracy McMullen recalls the Thin White Duke and the music that launched him into the stratosphere, while other faculty members recall their favorite Bowie songs and what made them special. Read that here.


  1. Kevin Wesley '89 says:

    I remember being in the Orient offices on Cleaveland Street in the fall of 1985 and Don Willmott ’86, editor in chief, played Changes as we were laying out copy. First I had heard the song and I was hooked from that point on.

  2. Bruce Lynskey '77 says:

    I have spoken to some Bowdoin friends for the first time in decades on the subject of Bowie’s death. There was a devoted group of us in the tower who wore out his records and analyzed every lyric and note. We regarded him as The Second Coming. While studying away during my junior spring semester, I was fortunate enough to see him in concert in 1976 on his ‘Thin White Duke’ tour in Nashville. A giant fist on stage opened, and out strolled The Thin White Duke in his three-piece white suit. I have to agree with Professor Denery that Bowie’s Station to Station (1976) LP was his very best with its opening title track being Bowie’s musical climax. Strangely enough he never recalled recording that LP. Has there been a more enduring fictional character from rock/pop music than Major Tom? Following his introduction in ‘Space Oddity’ (1969), he appears in “Ashes to Ashes” (1980), and, of course, in Peter Schilling’s 1983 “Major Tom (Coming Home)”.

  3. Jeff Cosgrove-Cook says:

    His collaborations with Brian Eno from the 90s are amazing. Particularly “I’m Afraid of Americans”. A true artist that always seemed to be a decade ahead of everyone else.

  4. Matthew Klingle says:

    Great to read these comments and reminiscences from colleagues and alums. However, it is worth remembering that Bowie created and inhabited many personae, not all of them flattering or memorable or easy to endure. His incarnation as the Thin White Duke is the best such example. While Station to Station IS a GREAT album, Bowie at the time was also flirting with, if not embracing, a fascist aesthetic. A recent article from The Times of Israel details this period, which coincided with his deepest descent into drug addiction.

    But Bowie, with apologies to Walt Whitman, another artistic shape shifter, contained multitudes. He was more than a goosestepping wannabe. A few years later, in 1983, older and more sober, he called MTV out for not playing more African American artists. A recent New York Times article provides context plus a video clip of a squirming Mark Goodman, an early V.J. for the station.

    That Bowie could change, provoke, learn and change again is testament to his durability as an artist and complexity as a human being. RIP.

Leave a Comment