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170 David Bowie Quotes on Living a Hero’s Life

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1. “There’s a terror in knowing what the world is about.”

2. “Gentleness clears the soul, love cleans the mind and makes it free.” 

3. “We can be heroes just for one day.”

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

5. “I really do just write and record what interests me, and I do approach the stage shows in much the same way.”

6. “I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human. I thought, ‘Fuck that. I want to be a superhuman.'” 

7. “I find only freedom in the realms of eccentricity.” 

8. “Once you lose that sense of wonder at being alive, you’re pretty much on the way out.”

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

10. “Sometimes, you stumble across a few chords that put you in a reflective place.”

11. “You can neither win nor lose if you don’t run the race.”

12. “Make the best of every moment. We’re not evolving. We’re not going anywhere.” 

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

14. “Don’t let me hear you say life takes you nowhere, angel.” 

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

16. “Talking about art is like dancing about architecture.”

17. “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?”

18. “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.”

19. “I feel confident imposing change on myself. It’s a lot more fun progressing than looking back. That’s why I need to throw curveballs.”

20. “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.”

21. “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.”

22. “We live closer to the earth, never to the heavens. The stars are never far away. Stars are out tonight.”

23. “I don’t care what anybody says. I like doing it, and it’s what I shall continue to do.”

24. “Speak in extremes. It’ll save you time.”

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

26. “It’s always time to question what has become standard and established.”

27. “The moment you know, you know you know.”

28. “You can’t stand still on one point for your entire life.”

29. “I have to take total control myself. I can’t let anybody else do anything, for I find that I can do things better for me. I don’t want to get other people playing with what they think that I’m trying to do.”

30. “No more free steps to heaven.”

31. “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

32. “People have attention spans of five seconds and as much depth as a glass of water.”

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

34. “Nobody reads anymore, nobody goes out, and looks, and explores, the society and culture they were brought up in.”

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

36. “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 come into being a composer, and to writing music, and to search for notes, and pieces of musical information that don’t exist.”

37. “The only real failure is trying to second-guess the taste of an audience. Nothing comes out of that except a kind of inward humiliation.”

38. “I think fame itself is not a rewarding thing. The most you can say is that it gets you a seat in restaurants.”

39. “The end comes when the infinites arrive.”

40. “There’s a starman waiting in the sky. He’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds.” 

41. “The words just jolly it along. It’s always been my way of expressing what for me is inexpressible by any other means.”

42. “There’s a taste in my mouth, and it’s no taste at all.”

43. “Every time I’ve made a radical change, it’s helped me feel buoyant as an artist.”

44. “Funk, I don’t think I have anything to do with funk. I’ve never considered myself funky.”

45. “Everything we look at and choose is some way of expressing how we want to be perceived.”

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

47. “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.”

48. “It amazes me sometimes that even intelligent people will analyse a situation or make a judgement after only recognising the standard or traditional structure of a piece.”

49. “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.”

50. “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.”

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

52. “I don’t have stylistic . That’s why people perceive me as 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.”

53. “The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.”

54. “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.”

55. “I’m looking for backing for an unauthorised 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.”

56. “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 I was living in.”

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

58. “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.”

59. “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.”

60. “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.” 

61. “If you come from art, you’ll always be art.”

62. “Look out my window, what do I see? A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me. All the nightmares came today, and it looks as though they’re here to stay.”

63. “It would be positively boring if minds were in tune.”

64. “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.”

65. “These children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.” 

66. “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.”

67. “If it works, it’s out of date.”

68. “Put on your red shoes, and dance the blues.”

69. “I went to a middle-class school, but my background is working class. I got the best of both worlds, I saw both classes, so I have a pretty fair idea of how people live and why they do it.”

70. “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.”

71. “I don’t have a problem with ageing—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.”

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

73. “Look up here, I’m in heaven! I’ve got scars that can’t be seen. I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen. Everybody knows me now. This way or no way, you know I’ll be free just like that bluebird. Now, ain’t that just like me?”

74. “It’s a compulsive need to wreck everything. You might notice there’s a pattern of stripping down and building back up again throughout my life. I guess that’s how some of us conduct our lives.”

75. “You feel you have negated everything that is wonderful about life. When you have fallen that far, it feels like a miracle when you regain your love of life.”

76. “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.”

77. “People are always throwing things at me that I’ve said, and I say that I didn’t mean anything.” 

78. “Glam really did plant seeds for a new identity. I think a lot of kids needed that—that sense of reinvention. Kids learnt that however crazy you may think it is, there is a place for what you want to do and who you want to be.”

79. “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.”

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

81. “What is the quality you most like in a man? The ability to return books.”

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

83. “It would be my guess that 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 centre of attention is not a pleasant place to be.”

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

85. “I’m not one of those guys that has a great worldview. I kind of deal with terror, and fear, and isolation, and abandonment.”

86. “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 God’s presence in his life. He is the 21st-century man.”

87. “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.” 

88. “I haven’t changed my views much since I was about 12. Really, I’ve just got a 12-year-old mentality. When I was in school, I had a brother who was into Kerouac, and he gave me On The Road to read when I was 12 years old. That’s still been a big influence.”

89. “I don’t expect the human race to progress in too many areas. However, having a child with an ear infection makes one hugely grateful for antibiotics.”

90. “I’m quite certain that the audience that I’ve got for my stuff don’t listen to the lyrics.”

91. “Ageing is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person you always should have been.”

92. “Trust nothing but your own experience.”

93. “I think hip hop is actually one of the most challenging things that’s happened in music in a long time.”

94. “A career of nearly 40 years is not very long.”

95. “There have been times when I’ve written something, and it goes out, and it comes back in a letter from some kid as to what they think about it, and I’ve taken their analysis to heart so much that I have taken up his thing. Writing what my audience is telling me to write.”

96. “In your fear, seek only peace. In your fear, seek only love.”

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

98. “The internet carries the flag of being subversive and possibly rebellious and chaotic, nihilistic.”

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

100. “You write down a paragraph or two describing several different subjects creating a kind of story ingredients-list, I suppose, and then cut the sentences into four or five-word sections. Mix them up and reconnect them. You can get some pretty interesting idea combinations like this. You can use them as is or if you have a craven need to not lose control, bounce off these ideas and write whole new sections.”

101. “I’m not sure whether it is me changing my mind or whether I lie a lot.”

102. “If I had a talent, it was for looking askew at everything, possibly more than my contemporaries. But I had to really push myself to be a writer.”

103. “Even though I was very shy, I found I could get on stage if I had a new identity.”

104. “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.”

105. “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.”

106. “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.”

107. “I don’t see any boundaries between any of the art forms. I think they all inter-relate completely.”

108. “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.”

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

110. “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.”

111. “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.”

112. “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.”

113. “Sometimes, I don’t feel as if I’m a person at all. I’m just a collection of other people’s ideas.”

114. “I’m drawn between the light and dark.”

115. “I would love to feel that what I did actually changed the fabric of music.”

116. “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.”

117. “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!”

118. “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.”

119. “There’s a schizoid streak within the family anyway, so I dare say that I’m affected by that. The majority of the people in my family have been in some kind of mental institution. As for my brother, he doesn’t want to leave. He likes it very much.”

120. “Don’t you love the Oxford Dictionary? When I first read it, I thought it was a really, really long poem about everything.”

121. “My father worked for a children’s home called Dr Barnardo’s Homes. They’re a charity.”

122. “I still derive immense pleasure from remembering how many hod-carrying brickies were encouraged to put on lurex tights and mince up and down the high street, having been assured by know-it-alls like me that a smidgen of blusher really attracted the birds.”

123. “I’m a person who can take on the guises of people I meet. I’m a collector, and I collect personalities and ideas.”

124. “I don’t crave applause. I’m not one of those guys who comes alive on stage. I’m much more alive at home, I think.”

125. “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 radio, and you’re not going to get played on television. I have to survive on word of mouth.”

126. “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.”

127. “I realised 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.”

128. “I’m a real self-educated kind of guy. I read voraciously. Every book I ever bought, I have. I can’t throw it away. It’s physically impossible to leave my hand! Some of them are in warehouses. I’ve got a library that I keep the ones I really, really like. I look around my library some nights, and I do these terrible things to myself—I count up the books and think, how long I might have to live and think, ‘Fuck, I can’t read two-thirds of these books.’ It overwhelms me with sadness.”

129. “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.”

130. “All I have is my love of love, and love is not loving.”

131. “I’ll paint you moments of gold. I’ll spin you Valentine evenings.” 

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

133. “And you, you can be mean. And I, I’ll drink all the time ’cause we’re lovers and that is a fact. Yes, we’re lovers, and that is that.”

134. “Turn and face the strange changes.” 

135. “I’m not at ease with the word ‘love.'”

136. “Keep your electric eye on me, babe. Put your ray gun to my head. Press your space face close to mine, love. Freak out in a moon age daydream, oh yeah!”

137. “You promised me the ending would be clear. You’d let me know when the time was now. Don’t let me know when you’re opening the door. Strap me in the dark. Let me disappear.”

138. “I’m a born librarian with a sex drive.”

139. “It’s not the side-effects of the cocaine. I’m thinking that it must be love. It’s too late to be grateful. It’s too late to be hateful. It’s too late to be late again. The European canon is here.”

140. “Fame is a very luxuriant mental hospital.”

141. “Critics, I don’t understand. They get too intellectual. They’re not very well-versed in street talk. It takes them longer to say it, so they have to do it in dictionaries, and they take longer to say it.”

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

143. “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.”

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

145. “I know when to go out, know when to stay in. Get things done.”

146. “Robert Johnson only had one album’s worth of work as his legacy. That’s all that life allowed him.”

147. “A lot of people provide me with quotes. They suggest all kinds of things to say, and I do, really, because I’m not very hip at all.”

148. “Popstars are capable of growing old. An ageing rock star doesn’t have to opt out of life. When I’m 50, I’ll prove it.”

149. “I have a certain niche that I work in. A lot of it has to be about alienation, being on the outside of things. That tends to be where I feel more comfortable as a writer.”

150. “I don’t make changes to confuse anyone. I’m just searching. That’s what causes me to change. I’m just searching for myself.”

151. “Now, I realise that from ’72 through to about ’76, I was the ultimate rock star. I couldn’t have been more rock star.”

152. “There are times when I prefer a cerebral moment with an artist, and I’ll just enjoy the wit of a Picabia or a Duchamp. It amuses me that they thought that what they did would be a good way of making art.”

153. “Pixies and Sonic Youth were so important to the ‘80s.”

154. “I never could get over the fact that The Pixies formed, worked, and separated without America taking them to its heart or even recognising their existence for the most part.”

155. “I once asked Lennon what he thought of what I do. He said, ‘It’s great, but it’s just rock and roll with lipstick on.'”

156. “I’d love people to believe that I really had great haircuts.”

157. “And I saw the sax line-up that he had behind him, and I thought, I’m going to learn the saxophone. When I grow up, I’m going to play in his band. So I sort of persuaded my dad to get me a kind of a plastic saxophone on the hire purchase plan.”

158. “To have my fellow musicians like what I do, that’s very cool.”

159. “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.”

160. “I think much has been made of this alter ego business. I mean, I actually stopped creating characters in 1975 for albums, anyway.”

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

162. “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.”

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

164. “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 colour the material with as much visual expression as is necessary for that song.”

165. “I’m responsible for starting a whole new school of pretension.”

166. “I can ask for cigarettes in every language.”

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

168. “People look to me to see what the spirit of the ‘70s is.”

169. “I think my spaceship knows which way to go.”

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