Monday, 11 January 2016

David Bowie - ★ (Blackstar) [12", LP]

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.
(from the song Lazarus)

One of the coming days i was going to write a little piece about ★ (pronounced as BLACKSTAR), the new DAVID BOWIE album. No hurry, i thought, because there are already thousands of reviews posted ever since it came out last Friday on his 69th birthday. So it would be a little personal thingy anyway, about how he managed to impress me once again with such a great and innovating album. But this morning, while it was still January 10th in New York where he lived - and early in the morning on the 11th here - the news broke that Bowie had died. He managed to hide this terrible disease he was suffering from for the past 18 months extremely well for the outside world. So now, about 14 hours later, after a day at work with enough distraction to get me through, i'm sitting here behind my desk at home. Listening to the new album, in tears, and pretty much devastated. I never thought it would have this effect on me, but apparently it has.

He's been part of my life ever since i started to listen to music in a serious way. During my highschool days, in the 80's, i was a real teenage Bowie fan. My first Bowie concert was at the Glass Spider Tour in 1987, and even though the critics didn't spare him at the time, i thought it was amazing. I saw him in a very different setting in 1996 during the Outside tour. Once again i was thrilled to see him on stage, even though by that time i was mainly into bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Pixies and Sonic Youth - but Bowie's always been a constant factor in my life and i never lost him out of sight. Very probably because his work is so diverse, and the man himself has always been reinventing himself. Most of the times well-received, sometimes less, but at least he's always been true to himself. And, even though he's been mainly doing things on a low level from 2004 (when he had a heart attack) to 2013 when The Next Day came out, he's been making artistically interesting albums right until his death. Not many artists do that. I heard someone say that Johnny Cash did that as well, but even though i have great respect for the Man In Black: those were mostly cover songs, and it was all thanks to Rick Rubin. Bowie did it all by himself, with the help of great musicians he chose by himself.

In the coming weeks, there will be loads of articles about the lyrics of the songs on ★, and how they should be interpreted now that we know that he made this album while he knew he was dying. Some are pretty obvious. Lazarus in particular, as you can see underneath the picture. I Can't Give Everything Away, Dollar Days, the title track... subtle hints all over. Even now i that am listening to Girl Loves Me, still with tears in my eyes on this black and rainy Monday evening, i keep on hearing Where The Fuck Did Monday Go? As if he knew he'd be gone before the day started. Or maybe he did; it wouldn't surprise me.

One of the things that i deeply respect Bowie for in this whole situation, is that he never issued a press release or anything that he had cancer. He didn't want his artistic outings to be overshadowed by that fact. Even when the Lazarus musical premiered in New York a few weeks ago, he managed to be there, staying the gentleman that he was. For everyone in the audience it was like he was standing on stage gloriously after the show, but only few people know that right after, he had to sit down and recover for quite some time because it took so much energy.

Goodbye David Robert Jones, may you rest in peace. And thank you for everything.

Something happened on the day he died.
Spirit rose a meter then stepped aside.
Somebody else took his place and bravely cried:
I'm a Blackstar. I'm a Blackstar.
(from the song )

Label: Columbia 88875173871 S1
Year of release: 2016

01. ★
02. 'Tis A Pity She's A Whore
03. Lazarus

01. Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)
02. Girl Loves Me
03. Dollar Days
04. I Can't Give Everything Away

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