I was all set for my triumphant return to Fuck I’m Great Just Ask Me to be an album review about David Bowie’s latest album Blackstar. What I wasn’t anticipating was to be writing about his sudden passing from an ongoing battle with cancer he had somehow kept from the media until after he had gone. It seems strange to mourn the passing of a rock star when his family would be going through a hurt infinitely greater than my own. However as an artist, a musician, a weird kid and a human being my heart still aches for the loss of someone who impacted on my life so significantly.
With his career spanning decades across film, television as well as music, Bowie never had an issue reaching for the stars when he already came from them.
He captured our imaginations with his constant shifting evolution and taught us all to challenge the norms of art, gender, politics, identity and society. A modern day Shakespeare; and just like the Edwardian playwright David Bowie’s influence on culture permeates everywhere. Just about every creative will credit him for their style, their direction, their very reason for being.
The way he reinvented himself over and over again, never content to just let things sit idle – experimenting with musical genre after musical genre, identity after identity. He wasn’t afraid to stand up to the status quo and drag the uncomfortable societal and cultural conversations into the light. His often androgynous appearance and ethereal quality allowed him to transcend the boundaries of fashion, music and art; giving us some of the most iconic defining looks, statements and anthems across several generations.
Bowie recognised and encouraged the Ziggy Stardust in all of us. He saw us all as Halloween Jack. We are all Aladdin Sane. We are all the Thin White Duke. He let me know it was ok to be the weird kid who felt like an alien. Aliens become stars easily because they recognise themselves to be made of the very stars themselves.
With his latest and final release, his 25th studio release Blackstar; was the most carefully planned farewell gift to us all. A career spanning across almost five decades, David Bowie carefully constructed the album and released it on his 69th birthday- two days before his passing. Now suddenly the lyrics take on a whole new layer of meaning. His final track, Lazarus, becomes all too clear he meant it as his final send-off;
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
The accompanying video track is haunting and not only served as his way of working through his impending death, but as his character frantically scrawls his final thoughts onto paper and down the desk he sends his message to the world clear- Don’t wait. Create now, create often, find your passion and leave your legacy upon the world before it’s too late.
The whole album is a carefully constructed gift that is filled with typical David Bowie mystery and iconography, effortlessly moving through each track like a journey to the stars. Each track is a homage to his various identities and genres he has experimented with over the last 25 albums, and his final send-off reminds us of just why we all mourn his passing- He was one of us as much as we were all a part of him; a sea of stars across his amazing and expressive universe.
Ziggy Stardust may have finally ascended back into space, but his thumbprint will remain permanently across our souls. The ghost of his muse will remain in everything we do as creatives, as musicians, designers, free-thinkers… as people as a whole. He challenged the world around him to step up and to embrace change and uncertainty for it shouldn’t be feared, it should mean you are alive and you are here and you are home. He has set himself free, not as an untimely ending, but the completion of a life of masterpieces; the final brush stroke that renders him not gone but immortal.
Oh I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Oh I’ll be free
Ain’t that just like me…
You visited us for a brief time and blew our minds like you always said you would.