After legendary musician David Bowie’s death from cancer on Monday, the world collectively came together to mourn the British superstar, who had a nearly 50-year-long career. Suddenly, the darkness of what would be his final album, Blackstar, started to make a lot more sense.
A mere three days prior to his death, Bowie released Blackstar without giving any interviews or planning a tour. The media had seen this before in 2013, when Bowie returned after 10 years of silence with The Next Day, so it didn’t necessarily indicate anything amiss. In fact, music producer Tony Visconti, who worked with Bowie on this album, told Rolling Stone the singer was in “fine health” in November 2015.
Unfortunately, the singer was not in good health. Bowie’s rep confirmed that he privately battled cancer for 18 months. (Wikipedia is claiming Bowie died of liver cancer, but that hasn’t been verified.)
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Ivo van Hove, the director of the Bowie-based musical Lazarus, told NPO Radio that Bowie was “writing on his deathbed.”
“I saw a man fighting,” van Hove said. “He fought like a lion and kept working like a lion through it all.”
So does Blackstar mark David Bowie’s final act? Was it an intentional swan song, written before his death and meant to convey how he was feeling to his worldwide fan base? We’ll never know for sure, but some music critics and writers are certain Bowie was aware — right down to the title, which essentially means “dead star.”
Visconti seems to think Bowie had it planned this way.
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“I knew for a year this was the way it would be,” he said to New York Daily News hours after Bowie’s death. “I wasn’t, however, prepared for it.”
Upon Blackstar‘s release, critics noted the dark lyrics and references to mortality and death. But for an artist who frequently wrote about isolation and being an outsider, they weren’t too far off his usual output.
Even still, there are so many death references it seems beyond coincidence.
In Pitchfork‘s review of the album (written before Bowie’s death), reviewer Ryan Dombal eeriely states, “David Bowie has died many deaths but is still with us.”
Here are two songs with video off of Blackstar. Even the videos seem to be foreshadowing his death. Unfortunately, we’ll never know for certain.
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