“Ashes to Ashes”: A Book


Announcing, officially at long last, the release of Ashes to Ashes: The Songs of David Bowie, 1976-2016. It will be published by Repeater Books in February 2019, and is available for pre-order now on Amazon (US & UK & Canada). In the US, you can also use Indiebound. In Canada, it’s also up on Indigo. I’ll add more links to more retailers in the next month or so.

The book is 710 pages long. It has no pictures. It does have 15 chapters (see below), along with an appendix of “lost” Bowie songs from the period (you may find a scoop or two in here), a partial discography, and—always a huge selling point—a bibliography. Given the length of the book, the notes section had to be an online supplement, which I’ll set up on this site over the next few months. I’ll also probably make the notes a PDF if that’s easier for anyone.


It starts with “Sister Midnight.” It ends with “Blackstar.” Every single song entry was revised—some far more radically than others. Some entries are now longer, some were edited down. With hope, they’re more accurate (in some cases, they certainly are, as people who made the recordings corrected me). The original entries will always remain on the blog, so don’t worry if you’ve got a favorite bit that didn’t make the cut for the book.


The five “unreleased” blog entries from Blackstar and No Plan (the title tracks of both releases, plus “Killing a Little Time,” “Dollar Days,” and “I Can’t Give Everything Away”) appear in the book (I’m not sure when/if they’ll be up here—not until the book publishes, in any rate).

It’s all to be found here—Bowie and Iggy Pop; Bowie and Eno; Bowie and Donny McCaslin; Bowie and Jagger. Labyrinth and Baal. Leon and 1. Outside. Tin Machine and Glass Spider. Marc Bolan, Freddie Mercury, Scott Walker, Tina Turner, Al B. Sure!, Ray Davies, John Cale, Scarlett Johansson, Arcade Fire, and Angelo Badalamenti.

I do hope you enjoy it. This is the end of something that I started in July 2009, and I think it turned out okay.


78 Responses to “Ashes to Ashes”: A Book

  1. Samuel Gladden says:

    Pre-ordered from Amazon!!!

    • shaydalton1 says:

      November 2, 2018 at 10:11 am
      Amazing piece of work. Always filled a gap in Bowie song analysis. Congratulations, Chris. Looking forward to it!

  2. Mark Brabazon says:

    Wish you great success with this. Always an intereseting/thought provoking read.

    Pre ordered.

    Mark Brabazon

  3. Jason Das says:

    Marvelous. Congratulations, Chris. Looking forward to it!

  4. Andy Waldron says:

    Please consider linking the indiebound site first for u.s. so we can direct money away from Amazon ! https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781912248308

  5. Rob Thomas says:

    Congrat’s – cannot wait! (Is there anywhere else to order it from? I try and steer clear of Bezos where I can…) Thanks, Rob

  6. Deanna says:

    Woohoo! What an accomplishment! I cannot wait to read it!!

  7. suzyq1973 says:

    love the chapter titles! pre-ordered from Thalia.

  8. vonwegen1 says:

    Pity it takes so long to publish, but it will be worth the wait. There has been a notable void in Bowie bio material that includes the Blackstar era, so this will be most welcome indeed. Looking forward especially to the essay on the title track (whew!).

  9. djonn says:

    Tremendously excited for you and the book! What an absolute labor of love and I do hope you realize how much we all appreciate the monumental work and sacrifice you’ve put into this. Thank you so much Chris!

  10. Yorkvillian says:

    Congratulations! Is it better for you/your sales numbers if we preorder, or if we wait and buy in-store (assuming we can come to an eventual book-tour event)?

    • col1234 says:

      a tough call. repeater has said the more pre-orders the better, but there may be in-store restrictions (you might have to buy it there). Will let you know if I learn more. There’s one event in NYC that’s close to being firmed up

  11. V2David says:

    Ordered!! Very excited about this.  I do wish you would have used one of the more recent pictures of Bowie on the cover.  But I guess it had to be from Scary Monsters given the book title. Congrats!

  12. Sean Hewitt says:

    Pre-ordered. Can’t wait!

  13. Christopher Williams says:

    Excited!! Perhaps you could post just each title on the site and leave them open for the comments from readers (rather than posting each full entry)?

  14. StupidintheStreet says:

    Big congrats, Chris! Pre-ordering today. I try never to wish time away anymore but I wish it was February now!

  15. I’m sure it is a great book. Bowie needs to be observed under many points of view. And I strongly believe it should be translated abraod. Hope I can do something for Italy, anyway.

  16. Simon Dale says:

    Can’t wait Chris. I will preorder soon. First one was brilliant and riveting, I am sure I will not be disappointed !

  17. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Chris..Can’t wait to read..Pre-ordered on Amazon!!!!!

  18. Nicktf says:

    Do you get more from a Kindle copy or actual book? I’m going to guess it doesn’t make any difference to you. Looking forward to it!

  19. David Hawkes says:

    Will it be available on Kindle in the U.K., Chris? Only appears as a paperback on the Amazon UK site.

  20. Bruised Passivity says:

    Do you know if Amazon.ca (Canada) will be carrying it eventually? I can’t wait to order a copy but I don’t live in the US or the UK.

  21. TisAPity says:

    Definitely getting this. Congrats on your book.

  22. scarymonster says:

    Congratulations Chris!

    Looking forward to this, as new blog posts have been sorely missed.

    Time for another end of year favourite albums poll, now that Blackstar has firmly established itself in the canon?

  23. Coagulopath says:

    Good to hear.

    I realise you don’t have much control over covers but are there any plans to re-release Rebel Rebel (though there’s probably a rights situation?) It looks a little odd that the books have different cover design.

    (I feel like such a lightweight that I can’t even tell what era of Bowie the photo’s from).

  24. comforn says:

    Congratulations Chris! Can’t wait to read it – do you know if there’ll be an ebook edition? Rebel Rebel is one of my most revisited Kindle books and it’d be great to have both volumes in the same place.

    • col1234 says:

      yes, absolutely. i think there’s a kindle link already for it? at least on the US amzn

      • comforn says:

        Thanks Chris – UK Amazon is listing the paperback only at the moment, but it might be something to do with it not being released yet. Will hopefully appear by Feb 19th!

      • comforn says:

        Dropping in to note that the UK Kindle link is now live – I’ve pre ordered and can’t wait!

      • col1234 says:

        yes, they finally got it done! will amend that link.

  25. MC says:

    Congratulations on the book, Chris. Can’t wait to get it. It’s sure to be the Bowie Bible, New Testament. Cheers!

  26. Anna Forsberg says:

    Wow, congratulations on the book! Will order immediately. I know how it feels when a big book project comes to its end, scary, relieving and of course empty, but hopefully with a great feeling of satisfaction. Thank you for spending so much time and taking such effort in creating a true bible for us Bowie fans! ❤

  27. alexandriadouillette says:

    “I do hope you enjoy it. This is the end of something that I started in July 2009, and I think it turned out okay.”

    You did more than okay, Chris. Gonna be pre-ordering it from my bookshop on Monday and looking forward to reading it and having it as a resource in this household.

    (Now get some rest and recover your motivation…)

  28. UnHombre says:

    Just the table of contents is impressive!! I wonder how you have survived to this last book (Glass Spider bootlegs, Tonight b sides, etc..)
    I wonder what you think about songs like No plan. It’s maybe my favorite last decade song of his.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I think this book looks grest. Cannot wait to buy it . Well done.

  30. Anonymous says:

    The recent review above was from stacey .

  31. lucianno says:

    Did you hear or knows more details about a Scary Monsters outtake called ”Is There Life After Marriage?”in fact a duet with Iggy Pop, not confusing with bootlegs I Feel Free back track

  32. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations and thank you for this amazing work. Your writing on Bowie really made an impact on my life and the way I enjoy David’s music. You’ve been an inspiration to research and write my own stuff. Question: is there gonna be a ebook version of Ashes To Ashes? I live in Argentina, so it would be much easier to get it that way.
    Thanks a lot!

    • col1234 says:

      there is going to be an ebook version, yes. once i have more information i’ll try to give people a number of links (not just Amzn) to get it, if they’d like.

  33. Roman says:

    The title of Chapter 14 is worth the price of admission alone. Congrats Chris. Looking forward to this.

  34. BenJ says:

    Ah, Blackstar is headed with a Finnegan’s Wake reference. That does seem fitting. I’m looking forward to this book.

  35. s.t. says:

    Preordered. Can’t wait!

    And congratulations on the completion of such a monumental effort!

  36. Susanna Morley says:

    Excellent. Can you advise on the best channel to buy from Australia?

  37. Tim Noggin says:

    Much respect for all your work Chris, thanks yet again.

  38. Anathema Device says:

    I never commented on this blog, but now I really want to express my admiration for your work. I usually think that 99% of “traditional” music journalism in 2018 is useless and obsolescent. But this blog is a beautiful example of how one still can write about music in a way that is original and actually adds something to the subject.

  39. I’m so stoked for this! Thanks, and congrats!

  40. stuartgardner says:

    I have not been this excited about a forthcoming book since Vonnegut was with us.

  41. pdantico says:

    Can’t wait to read it; thank you for this bittersweet gift

  42. Eamonn says:

    Well done Sir, you deserve all the plaudits and holidays to Hawaii (Cyprus is my island?) that are sure to come your way.
    Hope you manage to make it to London for a talk/promo at some stage.
    All the best with it!

  43. particledots says:

    congratulations – cant wait to get it

  44. Anonymous says:

    I love this blog, in my opinion, the best writing on Bowie, a work of art in itself, thank you!

  45. Matthew says:

    Brilliant. Congratulations. My copy of Rebel Rebel is apparently on its way to me now, and this is pre-ordered. I’ve loved browsing the blog over the past few years. Can’t wait to have a comprehensive, start-to-finish read.

  46. ric says:

    so, who’s go the willpower not to skip to the un-blogged entries?

  47. Stolen Guitar says:

    Congratulations, Chris! Wow…a decade, near as damn it, of meticulous research and exquisite writing. You must be knackered! Enjoy all the plaudits that’ll no doubt come your way in the new year.

    Thanks for the ride, Chris…I’m glad I found the Dame out there in the ether.

  48. spanghew says:

    Excellent news! I shall be pre-ordering very soon!

  49. HERVE PACHE says:

    Can’t find it in France???What a Fantastic Huge and Great Work !!!!!!Sincerely yours,Hervé Pache (another Bowie Fan but as always not exactly like the others… )

  50. audiophd says:

    Just got my shipping notice from Amazon…looks like tomorrow night just got way more interesting!

  51. Tim Cain says:

    I believe I have completed reading the whole blog now. It has illuminated me, a Bowie freak if ever there was, with a depth I never dreamed of. Still, I am left with questions. Idea: Individual entries on Bowie collaborators and associates. I want to understand the coming and going and sometimes return of characters like Mike Garson (I am obsessed with understanding WHY Mike was not included in the final two albums- which Blackstar, especially, seemed tailor-made for.) Was there a falling out AGAIN? What is Garson’s relationship to the Estate- which seems to be a warm one, given A Bowie Celebration tour.
    Alomar; Visconti; Gail; Slick; Eno; Angie; Iman; Coco; etc. I want the detail and the gossip. Help!

  52. Tim Cain says:

    One more thing, Chris. In 2010, I wrote a song, “David Bowie Is Dead”. I was obsessed with his disappearance. The song is a sci-fi set piece with David Jones lying on a chaise in his New York flat- a neural-jack clipped to his brain- the first such connection of a rock star and the Internet. I would love to share the lyrics with you. As it turned out, the lyrics were prophetic.

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