Two days after the release of his final album “Blackstar,” Ziggy Stardust’s Twitter stated, “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer.” Worldwide celebrations of Bowie’s life quickly materialized.
David Bowie silently moved his creativity around New York City for the past two years, casually releasing singles, a play titled “Lazarus,” and his 27th studio album on Jan. 8, 2016, Bowie’s 69th birthday, “Blackstar.”
Bowie’s record sales have increased 5,019 percent, according to Nielson Music, and “Blackstar” is ranked number one on both UK and US charts, making it his first top US album, according to Billboard. Memorial concerts at Carnegie Hall are to take place on March 31 and April 1.
David Bowie left us in the same way that he was introduced to us: suddenly, boldly and with the desire to do something artistically important.
“Blackstar” is a dark, beautiful and uneasy sounding album. Using remnants of “Low” and “Lodger,” Bowie takes jazz progressions, a dystopia of electronic beats and hard guitars, and links them with beautiful harmonies. Bowie’s voice is disjunct and soars powerfully throughout. Although the seven tracks flow seamlessly, a sense of resolution lacks.
Bowie’s death changed the tone of “Blackstar,” as his lyrics are now attached to the knowledge of his passing. Fans instantly picked up on “Lazarus,” where Bowie calls to look up to heaven.
The final song, “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” with long resolving final notes, explains how Bowie may have felt about his future.
“I know something’s very wrong / The pulse returns the prodigal sons / The blackout hearts the flowered news / With skull designs upon my shoes / I can’t give everything away.”
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Tony Visconti, friend and co-producer recalled telling Bowie, “‘You canny bastard. You’re writing a farewell album.’ Bowie simply laughed in response.”
Bowie’s ability to consistently bring something progressive to any medium he engulfed himself defines his legacy.
Bowie brought more than rebellion to rock in his 50-year career. He challenged the perception of sexuality as the androgynous Ziggy Stardust. On “Young Americans” he brought soul into his music, blurring the racial divides in music. As he overcame drug addiction, he experimented with the means to make music in his Berlin Trilogy. “Let’s Dance” welcomed Bowie’s eccentrics to the mainstream until he left pop for a grassroots band, Tin Machine. He returned to experimentation with the 1997 album “Earthling.” Bowie’s constantly changing sound exemplified that one act does not define the entirety of one’s life.
Bowie never let success dictate what was next — curiosity did that for him.
A version of this article appeared in the Jan. 25th print edition. Email Charlotte Sparacino at [email protected]