Bowie writes a farewell to the world

By Loribeth Reynolds

David Bowie released his 25th album, “Blackstar” Jan. 8, 2016, just two days before he died of cancer.

The album has already hit the top of the charts, making this Bowie’s first number one album. He left a seven-song masterpiece of expression; after all he is the master of expression himself.

“Blackstar” is an ambiguous album, full of hidden meaning that fans will be busy decoding for a while. This is truly a compelling composition of Bowie’s death. Hopefully inspiring today’s dead popular music culture, to become alive again, with substance.

With its electronic pulse, “Blackstar” is chock-full of somber saxophone solos, flickering flutes, and marching drums.

Truly experimental in nature, it’s fusion of jazz and electronic music, has tiny patches of prog rock, and that gruff voice that is so familiar.

Subjects on the album range from: political issues, a song that is the B-side to his 2014 “Sue (or in the Season of Crime)”, titled “Tis a Pity She’s a Whore,” and the song “Lazarus,” a final farewell, which couldn’t be more timely for his death.

This album is very dark compared to his comeback album released in 2013 titled “The Next Day” which is a straightforward rock album.

“Blackstar’s” title song takes more of a political stance. Lyrically, this song is exactly what pop music lacks these days; substance.

One of the repetitive lyrics, alongside a stop-and-go drumbeat, states, “I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar, I’m not a gangstar.”

Musically, this song suggests that this is Bowie’s reaction to the oppression and experience that African Americans still face today, by mixing older genre jazz (old issues) with new age electronic music (new generation).

The song is said to be inspired by West Coast rapper, Kendrick Lamar’s album, “To Pimp a Butterfly.”

The video for “Blackstar” is not for the light-hearted. It comes with hidden meaning and strange images that will leave you wondering.

Another song from the album is “Dollar Days.” Bowie belts out the chorus, “I’m dying to push their backs against the grain, and fool them again and again.”

Through this lyric he gives the impression that he wanted to keep making music that “pushes” people to think about and reconsider our social norms, however he can’t keep “fooling” everyone into thinking he can live forever.

This song coincides with “Lazarus” a song that addresses his morality beginning with, “Look up here I’m in heaven…”

Weaving in and out of the lyrics are the saxophone and experimental guitar, painting a melancholy scene as Bowie unmasks, “Oh, I’ll be free, just like that bluebird … ain’t that like me…” The song shares its title with the musical now playing on broadway about Bowie’s life.

If you begin your Bowie journey with this album it will manufacture the same feelings that people had about him when he began his career.

This album, to some, may seem uncomfortable, but that is the point. “Blackstar” pushes boundaries, experiments with sound, and confronts morality.

A true visionary, Bowie left us an album to unravel for years to come.

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