Legendary rock icon David Bowie, who died yesterday, knew that Blackstar would be his final record while he was making it. “His death was no different from his life — a work of art,” said longtime producer Tony Visconti in a statement on Facebook. “He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be.” And the writing’s on the wall: songs like the LP’s third track, Lazarus, and the associated music video certainly make it clear that he was pondering his legacy on the record.
The video for Lazarus, which depicts a bandaged Bowie in a hospital bed, is poignantly foreboding. “Look up here, I’m in heaven,” he sings. “I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.” He also sings about being in “danger” and his past “living like a king in New York.” Then the visionary artist flails about and sings about being free. The video finishes with Bowie in a black-and-white striped outfit walking into a closet.
When Bowie died yesterday, his team finally told the public that he had been battling cancer for 18 months. “I wasn’t, however, prepared for it,” continued Visconti. “He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.” The producer had worked with Bowie since the musician’s second studio record, Space Oddity, a career totaling more than 40 years.
Blackstar, a jazzy, experimental LP also influenced by hip hop artists like Kendrick Lamar, came out just three days ago on January 8. Bowie released 25 records over his career including legendary opuses like The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Station to Station, and many others.
“He gave birth to the New Romantic scene,” said Visconti to Rolling Stone in the fall. “He’s a genre-breaker, and I can’t wait for the Blackstar imitation albums to start coming out.”