‘Blackstar:’ Bowie’s final, somber goodbye

Logan Battin, Contributing Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






“Blackstar,” the last record before the undoubtedly talented David Bowie left the proverbial building, dying of cancer on Jan. 10, 2016. The album, released on Jan. 8, proves to be as emphatic, truly artistic, and certainly out of the ordinary as any time in Bowie’s career. Such is a big deal, as Bowie already had perhaps the most diverse a sound as any male pop singer in history.

He seems to have ran a six- minute mile on the last mile of a marathon. The new album is certainly some form of jazz-fusion. The pop legend had reportedly been listening to Kendrick Lamar’s latest work “To Pimp A Butterfly” with his producer. Bowie’s recent interest and intake of jazz also led to his engagement with the very musicians  that played on “Blackstar.”

The album is jazz in that it is in no way pop. There are not a lot of moments for the ethereal finger snap. It is probably not a lot of music you would want to hear when you are driving your kids to school. It is also not going to make much sense if you do not devote some time to being attentive to what is being said and shown and felt, ultimately, by those responsible for the very art that is “Blackstar.” Bowie certainly achieved that sense of jazz all across the album, all layered behind and through his own experimental, almost avant garde flare and flavor. The monumental theatricality of the album is legitimately amplified by the understanding that this was David Bowie’s passing moment. This was the last shebang, to be plain.

He was odd. Out of the ordinary maybe? Different. He has perhaps appeared to be a bit more creative, in the seeming sea of our greatest lovers of the West (the pop stars), he legitimately was the most undeniably unique, resounding and forceful of all of them. He was tangibly vivid and yet all the while diverse in sound and look and feeling. And, perhaps most importantly sound. He has almost literally done it all: glam rock, pop rock, electronic-ish and weird art rock, ultimately to jazz, to what? Heaven, maybe. It sounds like some misconstrued tale of Lazarus himself. Which is convenient seeing as track three is titled Lazarus and Bowie co-wrote and casted a play title “Lazarus” which is currently playing in New York City, where his jazz journey began.

And now, we can say, it was more right-up-to-the-very-end than anyone else in the history of music. Two days after his 69th birthday when the album dropped on Jan. 8, he was gone. The opening lyrics from the largely ethereal and haunting track “Lazarus” rightfully summarize the experience of the entire album, especially knowing Bowie is gone.

“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.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email