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Starman to Blackstar – David Bowie’s Magnum Opus, closing circles


First listening to the David Bowie album Blackstar, released 2 days before his death, I simply didn’t like it, it jarred.  It is not bop while you get on with your day music, it demands.  Sometimes music needs to grow on you, grow into you, send roots into the loam of you, but rewards with a view from its highest branches.  An hour later I was awestruck.  Then watching the music video of solar plexus punching, powerful, Lazarus, tears, goosebumps, horror then awe.

All that doubled watching Blackstar.  Absolute genius brought home the agony of earth’s loss.

Later watching the Space Oddity video, all I saw was circles.  The Blackstar video begins with the body of a dead astronaut being discovered.  The skull beneath the helmet bejewelled.  In another scene the astronaut’s skeleton being released to the heavens.  In Space Oddity an astronaut floats in space.  The circle closes from the multiple references to space and stars in early work, to Blackstar.

At the end of the Lazarus video, Bowie steps into a wardrobe, not a coffin. CS Lewis used the device of the wardrobe to introduce a parallel world. The Starman, the Blackstar and the Wardrobe. That works for me.

Bowie was a word smith, he played with words and metaphors. Beyond the circles and the echoes, beyond the stars, there is an inversion. Death is the inversion of life.   Black is the inversion of white.  Is Blackstar the inversion of his stardom as Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke?

Blackstar is challenging, but if you rise to the challenge darkness leads to light. Don’t talk of the way that he bent all the rules and broke new ground from a wistful nostalgic place which highlights the beauty of your youth. Respect him enough to absorb this final groundbreaking work. Blackstar is not for sissies.

“Something happened on the day he died

Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside

Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried

(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)

How many times does an angel fall?

How many people lie instead of talking tall?

He trod on sacred ground, he cried loud into the crowd

(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar, I’m not a gangstar)”

Another circle emerged watching this documentary below, at time 1:17:38 there is a snapshot of Bowie with his eyes bandaged as in Lazarus and Blackstar videos (without the buttons).  The album Outside is referenced at that point but try as I may I cannot find a link to a music video from Outside showing that image.  Does anyone know which song features Bowie with bandaged eyes?

What are your thoughts on Blackstar?  Would be interested if you reply in the comments below.

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