Well, shit. There’s no other way to put it.
When we woke up to the news this morning that David Bowie had died after a secret 18-month battle with cancer, it felt like we’d had the rug pulled out from under our feet. We’d been so caught up in his iconic personas, sensational lyrics and innovative tunes, that it never occurred to us that the figure behind Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Thin White Duke was actually mortal.
The news of Bowie’s sad death comes just days after his 69th birthday, which was also the release day of his latest album Blackstar. Belgian theatre director Ivo van Hove, who worked with the singer, has since touched on just how much Bowie powered through during his final months:
“Bowie was still writing on his deathbed, I saw a man fighting. He fought like a lion and kept working like a lion through it all.”
But the news of David Bowie’s death has caused people to look at his latest songs a bit more closely. First there is the suggestion that his latest album harks back to the earlier days of Bowie, rather fittingly showing his music coming round in full circle. And then there are the poignant lyrics which now make much more sense. Quite simply, Blackstar was Bowie’s way of saying goodbye to the world.
Lazarus: Was this a foreshadowing of what was to come?
Bowie’s last song, Lazarus, has hit headlines around the world for its haunting video. It shows a gaunt David Bowie trapped in a hospital bed, his eyes covered in bandages. As he begins to levitate and shake above the bed, we’re introduced to a very different Bowie; one who can walk, see and strike a pose. At one point he even sits at a desk, with a cryptic skull in the background. Before long, he retreats into a wardrobe, a feature, some have suggested is symbolic of a coffin; one that is rather fitting for an icon who pushed fashion – as well as musical – boundaries.
Here’s the full video in full:
Even more poignantly are the star’s lyrics, which include: ‘Look up here, I’m in heaven’, and ‘Oh I’ll be free/Just like that bluebird/Oh I’ll be free/Ain’t that just like me’. Listening to the song now it sends shivers down our spine. It’s clear that this was Bowie’s final goodbye.
This is something that has since been echoed by Bowie’s producer, Tony Visconti, who said: “His death was no different from his life – a work of Art.” He added:
“He made ‘Blackstar’ for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it.”
And neither were we. As we all gather around our Bowie Spotify playlists today, and watch Labyrinth for the 400th time, let’s just be glad of one thing: that this colourful, heroic alien chose our planet in the first place.
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