David Bowie: What I've Learned.

Back in 2013, the late David Bowie agreed to share his life lessons with Esquire. Here we revist them

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With a suit, always wear big British shoes, the ones with large welts. There's nothing worse than dainty little Italian jobs at the end of the leg line.

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

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

Lester Bangs, the raging rock critic of the Seventies, allegedly once paid his highest compliment to a band by saying, "You make me feel like a motherfucker from hell." I realised then that we were on different planets.

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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.

I've always regretted that I never was able to talk openly with my parents, especially with my father. I've heard and read so many things about my family that I can no longer believe anything; every relative I question has a completely different story from the last. I seem to have half a dozen family histories.

Fame can take interesting men and thrust mediocrity upon them.

If I hadn't learned how to be a musician and writer, it wouldn't have mattered what I did.

I never knew too many rock people. I would get to a place, some nightclub or other, and see all these famous rockers bonding. And I remember feeling completely on the outside. I regret that sometimes.

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.

The depressing realisation in this age of dumbing down is that the questions have moved from, "Was Nietzsche right about God?" to, "How big was his dick?" Make the best of every moment. We're not evolving. We're not going anywhere.

You're never who you think you are. Sometime in the Eighties, an old lady approached me and asked, "Mr Elton, may I have your autograph?" I told her that I wasn't Elton but David Bowie. She replied, "Oh, thank goodness. I couldn't stand his red hair and all that makeup."

They're never who you think they are. When I first came to the US, around 1971, my New York guide told me one day that The Velvet Underground were to play later that night at the Electric Circus, which was about to close. I was the biggest fan in the UK, I believe.

I got to the gig early and positioned myself at the front by the lip of the stage. The performance was great, and I made sure that Lou Reed could see that I was a true fan by singing along to all the songs. After the show, I moved to the side of the stage to where the door of the dressing room was located.

I knocked, and one of the band members answered. After a few gushing compliments, I asked if I could have a few words with Lou. He looked bemused but told me to wait a second.

After only moments, Lou came out, and we sat and talked about songwriting for 10 minutes or so. I left the club floating on cloud nine — a teenage ambition achieved.

The next day, I told my guide what a blast it had been to see The Velvets live and meet Lou Reed. He looked at me quizzically for a second, then burst into laughter.

"Lou left the band some time ago," he said. "You were talking to his replacement, Doug Yule."

I've always felt bemused at being called the chameleon of rock. Doesn't a chameleon exert tremendous energy to become indistinguishable from its environment?

Trust nothing but your own experience. 

Watch David Bowie perform the track 'Five Years' on the Old Grey Whistle Test back in 1972:

What do you think?

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