A Legend Leaves Us

The seeming suddenness of David Bowie’s death yesterday cannot be overstated. He hid his liver cancer from most everyone, and he left this world with remarkable dignity—externally living normally as could be nearly up to the end.

The singer celebrated his 69th birthday on January 8th—yes, two days before his departure—when his last studio album, 7-track “Blackstar” released. The song that surely will be a meme is “Lazarus”, which issued as digital download the week before Christmas; in my listening to the song is epitaph to all the people he leaves behind. From first stanza to the last, unrequited fate is transcendence.

Lyrics:

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

Look up here, man, I’m in danger
I’ve got nothing left to lose
I’m so high it makes my brain whirl
Dropped my cell phone down below

Ain’t that just like me

By the time I got to New York
I was living like a king
Then I used up all my money
I was looking for your ass

This way or no way
You know, I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now ain’t that just like me

Oh I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Oh I’ll be free
Ain’t that just like me

The horns, and guitars that answer them, are haunting. (If something sounds vaguely familiar to you, listen to the horn arrangement to Glenn Frey’s “You Belong to the City”.) I would have liked “Lazarus” even without the context of Bowie’s passing. The arrangement is fantastic, evocative.

 

I’d bet money that high school and college educators will come to use the  music video in curriculums teaching about music or pop culture—and maybe even sociological studies about death and dying. The vid is metaphoric.