100 David Bowie Quotes (About Music, Fame, Life…)

David Robert Jones, most commonly known as David Bowie, was a well-loved singer, songwriter, and actor.

Born in South London, Bowie developed an interest in music as a child, eventually studying music, art, and design before starting a professional career as a musician.

With his groundbreaking androgynous fashion and wide-ranging voice, Bowie is one of the most inspiring artists from Britain. His legacy is unmatched and is considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

On January 10, 2016, David Bowie’s death due to liver cancer, shook the world. He died two days after the release of his twenty-fifth album, Blackstar, which coincided with his 69th birthday.

To honor his memory, we’ve gathered some of the best David Bowie quotes and sayings to have ever been spoken by the Rock legend.

David Bowie Quotes About Music

1. “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.”

2. “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.”

3. “The 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.”

4. “I felt I really wanted to back off from music completely and just work within the visual arts in some way. I started painting quite passionately at that time.”

5. “I went through all the musicians in my life who I admire as bright, intelligent, virtuosic players.” 

I went through all the musicians in my life who I admire as bright, intelligent, virtuosic players - David Bowie. #quotes #music #bright #intelligent #virtuosic

6. “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.”

7. “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.”

8. “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 to writing music and to search for notes and pieces of musical information that don’t exist.”

9. “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.”

10. “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.”

11. “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.”

12. “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.”

13. “I thought that I wrote songs and wrote music, and that was sort of what I thought I was best at doing. And because nobody else was ever doing my songs, I felt – you know, I had to go out and do them.”

14. “I wanted to prove the sustaining power of music.” 

I wanted to prove the sustaining power of music - David Bowie. #quotes #music #power

15. “To not be modest about it, you’ll find that with only a couple of exceptions, most of the musicians that I’ve worked with have done their best work by far with me.”

16. “When I’m stuck for closing to a lyric, I will drag out my last resort: overwhelming illogic.”

17. “Dance music is no longer a simple Donna Summer beat. It’s become a whole language that I find fascinating and exciting. Eventually, it will lose the dance tag and join the fore of rock.”

18. “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.”

19. “I don’t profess to have music as my big wheel and there are a number of other things as important to me apart from music. Theatre and mime, for instance.”

20. “I’ve started doing book reviews for Barnes & Noble! They saw that I did a lot of book reviews on the site, and they figured that it might not be a bad thing if they got me to do some for them as well. I gave them five categories I’d be interested in reviewing, from art to fiction to music.”

David Bowie Quotes About Fame

1. “I’m an instant star. Just add water and stir.”

2. “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.”

3. “Fame itself… doesn’t really afford you anything more than a good seat in a restaurant.” 

Fame itself... doesn't really afford you anything more than a good seat in a restaurant - David Bowie. #quotes #fame #good #seat

4. “Fame can take interesting men and thrust mediocrity upon them.”

5. “You would think that a rock star being married to a supermodel would be one of the greatest things in the world. It is.”

6. “I never really felt like a rock singer or a rock star or whatever.”

7. “I believe that I often bring out the best in somebody’s talents.”

8. “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.”

9. “Even though I was very shy, I found I could get onstage if I had a new identity.”

David Bowie Quotes About Life

1. “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.”

2. “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.”

3. “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.”

4. “The truth is, of course, is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.” 

The truth is, of course, is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time - David Bowie. #quotes #life #journey #departing

5. “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.”

6. “I’m not a prophet or a stone aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I’m living on.”

7. “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.”

8. “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.”

9. “Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.”

10. “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.”

11. “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?”

12. “Confront a corpse at least once. The absolute absence of life is the most disturbing and challenging confrontation you will ever have.”

13. “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.”

14. “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 very good at what I do, and I don't turn my hand to something unless I'm very good at it, frankly - David Bowie. #quotes #life #very #good

15. “But I’ve got to think of myself as the luckiest guy. Robert Johnson only had one album’s worth of work as his legacy. That’s all that life allowed him.”

David Bowie, More Quotes And Sayings

1. “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.”

2. “GYBE are among my, erm, two favorite Montreal bands, Arcade Fire being the other.”

3. “I’m not very articulate.”

4. “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.”

5. “I’ve never responded well to entrenched negative thinking.”

6. “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.”

7. “I’m always amazed that people take what I say seriously. I don’t even take what I am seriously.”

8. “Strangely, some songs you really don’t want to write.” 

Strangely, some songs you really don't want to write - David Bowie. #quotes #songs #write

9. “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.”

10. “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.”

11. “The skin of my character in ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ was some concoction, a spermatozoon of an alien nature that was obscene and weird-looking.”

12. “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.”

13. “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.”

14. “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” 

I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring - David Bowie. #quotes #where #going #boring

15. “When I heard Little Richard, I mean, it just set my world on fire.”

16. “The Americans at heart are a pure and noble people; things to them are in black and white. It’s either ‘rawk’ or it’s not. We Brits putter around in the grey area.”

17. “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.”

18. “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.”

19. “I change my mind a lot. I usually don’t agree with what I say very much. I’m an awful liar.”

20. “I would dream. I focused all my attention on going to America. The subculture, James Dean, the rock n’ roll, the beat writers.”

21. “I rate Morrissey as one of the best lyricists in Britain. For me, he’s up there with Bryan Ferry.”

22. “Radio in England is nonexistent. It’s very bad English use of a media system, typically English use.”

23. “I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human.” 

I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human - David Bowie. #quotes #repulsive #human

24. “I’m very at ease, and I like it. I never thought I would be such a family-oriented guy; I didn’t think that was part of my makeup. But somebody said that as you get older you become the person you always should have been, and I feel that’s happening to me. I’m rather surprised at who I am because I’m actually like my dad!”

25. “I was born in Londo in 1947, after the war. A real wartime baby. I went to school in Brixton, and then I moved up to Yorkshire, which is in the north of England. I lived on the farms up there.”

26. “I have all the admiration in the world for somebody like Bono, who really puts himself on the line and tries actively to do something about our world situation.”

27. “I’ve made over 25 studio albums, and I think probably I’ve made two real stinkers in my time, and some not-bad albums, and some really good albums. I’m proud of what I’ve done. In fact, it’s been a good ride.”

28. “I couldn’t have written things like ‘Low’ and ‘Heroes,’ those particular albums, if it hadn’t have been for Berlin and the kind of atmosphere I felt there.”

29. “What I like to do is try to make a difference with the work I do.” 

What I like to do is try to make a difference with the work I do - David Bowie. #quotes #difference

30. “I re-invented my image so many times that I’m in denial that I was originally an overweight Korean woman.”

31. “When I was 18, I thought that to be a romantic, you couldn’t live past 30.”

32. “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.”

33. “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.”

34. “Songs don’t have to be about going out on Saturday night and having a good rink-up and driving home and crashing cars. A lot of what I’ve done is about alienation… about where you fit in society.”

35. “I was never particularly fond of my voice.” 

I was never particularly fond of my voice - David Bowie. #quotes #fond #voice

36. “The humanists’ replacement for religion: work really hard and somehow you’ll either save yourself or you’ll be immortal. Of course, that’s a total joke, and our progress is nothing. There may be progress in technology but there’s no ethical progress whatsoever.”

37. “Frankly, if I could get away with not having to perform, I’d be very happy. It’s not my favorite thing to do.”

38. “It is amazing how a new child can refocus one’s direction seconds after its birth.”

39. “I think it all comes back to being very selfish as an artist. I mean, I really do just write and record what interests me and I do approach the stage shows in much the same way.”

40. “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.”

41. “It would be my guess that Madonna is not a very happy woman. From my own experience, having gone through personal changes like that, that kind of clawing need to be the center of attention is not a pleasant place to be.”

42. “From my standpoint, being an artist, I want to see what the new construction is between artist and audience.” 

From my standpoint, being an artist, I want to see what the new construction is between artist and audience - David Bowie. #quotes #construction #artist #audience

43. “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.”

44. “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.”

45. “I could imagine at a certain age, when I have no vocal cords left, that I would find a young man who could sing my parts for me. But I don’t see why I would stop.”

46. “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.”

47. “My son’s full real name is Duncan Zowie Haywood. As a toddler, he was called by his second name Zowie. But it was such an identifiable name during the Seventies that if I called him loudly in public places, everyone would turn to stare, so I started calling him Joey to take the pressure off.”

48. “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.”

49. “Nearly all the synth work on Heathen is mine and some of the piano.”

50. “I think Mick Jagger would be astounded and amazed if he realized that too many people he is not a sex symbol, but a mother image.”

51. “I guess, taking away all the theatrics or the costuming and the outer layers of what I do, I’m a writer… I write.” 

I guess, taking away all the theatrics or the costuming and the outer layers of what I do, I'm a writer... I write - David Bowie. #quotes #writer

52. “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.”

53. “When it comes down to it, glam rock was all very amusing. At the time, it was funny, then a few years later it became sort of serious-looking and a bit foreboding.”

54. “My mother was Catholic, my father was Protestant. There was always a debate going on at home – I think in those days we called them arguments – about who was right and who was wrong.”

55. “I guess it’s flattering that everyone believed I was those characters, but it also is dehumanizing.”

56. “When you think about it, Adolf Hitler was the first pop star.”

If you want to know more about the life experiences of the beloved David Bowie, we would suggest you read David Bowie: The Oral History by Dylan Jones.

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