I woke up earlier than usual this morning, only to find that David Bowie died last night, just days after his 69th birthday.
I’m devastated. No other musician or pop star filled my life with such joy and mystery. “Legendary musician” doesn’t even begin to cover it. David Bowie was elemental, everchanging, and I assumed eternal. I took his presence on earth for granted, evidenced by my review of his latest album Blackstar, published just two days before he died.
The conclusion is mostly a refrain of maintaining mystery, but it could also be heard as a hint that Bowie still has characters to greet us and tricks up his sleeve, despite this latest death obsessed treatise. In the meantime, ★, amidst all its trappings, is a puzzle begging for examination, and a solidly unique work from an artist who is no stranger to breaking boundaries.
Well I got that half right. Blackstar is a “death obsessed treatise,” but precisely because he was preparing us for his departure. I think he had already accepted it. It was the rest of the world he was trying to prepare.
As it turns out, “Lazarus,” and Blackstar as a whole, was full of clues that this was Bowie’s final work. It has, naturally, completely altered my view of the record. As an album , it was brief, mysterious, and profound. But as a final act, a parting gift, it is so much more. David Bowie has taught us that embracing the unforgiving flow of time and death can be greeted with the same creative ingenuity as a new image. I’m not trying to be morbid or superficial, but that is the message of Blackstar; an artist whose career can be boiled down to a lifetime of work about change, has gone through his last transition, and he documented it through song and film.
Ain’t that just like him.