David Bowie: The Songwriter

Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers reflects on the Thin White Duke's songwriting prowess.

db Photo by Jimmy King

A week after David Bowie’s death I was at a music festival in Todos Santos, Mexico and most of the bands there wanted to pay tribute to Bowie’s musical legacy. The lineup was extremely eclectic and everyone brought their best A-game to the proceedings and every single Bowie cover was heartfelt and wonderful. The songs held up to whatever arrangements and personnel played them and each one made for a highlight of the set. Later, I heard some songs being played, stripped down on an acoustic guitar or a piano, and again the songs held up wonderfully. David Bowie was not only one of the greatest artists of the last century but easily one of our best songwriters.

I first heard of Bowie when I was still in grade school. I went to New York City for the first time as Diamond Dogs was being released and vividly remember seeing ads for that album, with its very striking cover, everywhere I’d go. Not long afterward, I saw Bowie on the late night TV show “The Midnight Special” and was hooked. From that point on, it seems that Bowie and his songs have been part of the soundtrack for every era of my life.

No one could really ever call David Bowie underrated. His passing has brought forth accolades and tributes and heartfelt remembrances from all over the world, spanning generations. He is remembered for his artistry and innovation and for giving voice to the alienated and marginalized. He was beloved for his style and fashion sense and for his almost chameleon-like ability to reinvent himself over and over. His musicianship and vocal prowess have been deservedly praise as has his longevity in an art form that... Sign In to Keep Reading

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