If I think about David Bowie’s career, I would say that one adjective that can define it partially is: changeable. David was, from his very early years, an artist that was always experimenting, teasing new sounds and styles. And not just in music, Bowie’s artistic side would expand in acting.
When Blackstar came out I had only listened to the popular Bowie’s songs rather than the whole albums. After hearing the single, Blackstar, a 10-minute opening track, I was quite surprised. It was dark, spacey, it has so many cool laser sounds that make you feel like you were on a space trip. I got hooked and I listened to the rest of the songs. By the way, that’s why I think the best position to put a single of an album is at the beginning of it because if you got hooked, you will listen to the whole thing… makes sense right?
I’m the kind of person that gets hooked to music by the tunes rather than lyrics. So that was the first step that got me into David Bowie’s music. But after that, I wanted to go deeper and I dug in the meaning behind the songs.
I will share very quickly cool facts about this album:
- It was released on the 8th of January, the day Bowie turned 69 years old. I remind that albums are released only on Fridays, so this is a cool coincidence.
- When recording the album no one was aware of David’s cancer. Actually the musicians that contributed to it said that they all worked, including David, for 12 hours per day. That’s pretty impressive for someone who’s battling with cancer.
- The only ones that knew about Bowie’s cancer were his close family. Two days after this album was released David passed, the fact that he had cancer was a surprise for all his fans.
- This was the album number 25 of David discography, and the only one to top the US charts.
- This is the only album of Bowie that his face is not on the cover.
- “Black Star” is a medical term for a type of cancer. That makes me think that maybe he was trying to say something.
- David recruited the jazz combo from NY led by Donny McCaslin
- Throughout the whole album, there are references to Bowie’s mortality.
For example, in Blackstar:
Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a meter and stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
Or in Lazarus:
Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I use to listen to Blackstar when I would like to clear my mind, maybe after a long day at work. It has that vibe that makes you feel like you’re somewhere else but not where you actually are. It is very pleasant and easy to listen to as well.
To me, this album really feels like a David Bowe swan song. It was a gift he wanted to make to his fans for ending his amazing career, a career that is consisted of ups and downs, but one thing is sure. David was an iconic figure in the artistic world. And his best legacy was, in my opinion, that it doesn’t matter how you look, what your gender is, what do you believe in… nothing with block your way if you are a true artist. That was David, he had so many experiments in his career, so many faces, but he succeeded in the end. Artists would need to learn from Bowie this thing, they need to experiment a bit more, there are so many bands molding what others have crafted and very few making something different.