Before we get lost in the gone-too-soon artistic brilliance that’s all wrapped up in David Bowie’s twenty-seventh and final studio album, Blackstar, you need to know that the record was actually never intended to be his music farewell. Earlier this week, Rolling Stone spilled music tea with Bowie’s pal and long time collaborator (and Philly producing legend) Tony Visconti, in which Visconti told the mag that Bowie chatted with him in November him via FaceTime and told him he wanted another go around in the studio, post-Blackstar.
By that time, Bowie had already known that his cancer was terminal, but Visconti got the impression that Bowie had no idea he had so little time left. “At that late stage, he was planning the follow-up to Blackstar,” he spilled. “And I was thrilled,” Visconti continues, “and I thought, and he thought, that he’d have a few months, at least. Obviously, if he’s excited about doing his next album, he must’ve thought he had a few more months. So the end must’ve been very rapid. I’m not privy to it. I don’t know exactly, but he must’ve taken ill very quickly after that phone call.”
Rolling Stone also went on to say that Visconti first learned of Bowie’s illness a year ago, when the two of them began logging in studio time for Blackstar recording sessions in New York. “He just came fresh from a chemo session, and he had no eyebrows, and he had no hair on his head,” Visconti told the music mag, “and there was no way he could keep it a secret from the band. But he told me privately, and I really got choked up when we sat face to face talking about it.”
During the middle of recording the album, Bowie’s prognosis seemed to improve, and Visconti said that Bowie was “optimistic” because the chemo treatments had seemed to be working. But Visconti soon learned that Blackstar would end up being Bowie’s music swan song after he noticed the dark tone of the lyrics and told him, “You canny bastard. You’re writing a farewell album,” an accusation to which Bowie simply laughed in response to. “He was so brave and courageous,” Visconti. also told RS. “And his energy was still incredible for a man who had cancer. He never showed any fear. He was just all business about making the album.”
Speaking of Bowie business, Blackstar is loaded with it. Whether he was facing Death in the face or just getting down to the roots of his music artistry, the departed rock legend certainly left his fans with an album that showcases all of his true talents–singing, songwriting and just making music that no one will ever be able to recreate because its an esteemed spaced out class of its very own.
Another factor that Bowie achieved with this album is that he proved how the non-stop power of creativity is one hell of trait to have. He shows us that the power of creativity can prevail in your world no matter the consequences, even when facing your last days. Although creativity can certainly take anyone to some seriously dark places, it can also feel like an only friend in the world, and lift us up right when we need it most, and that’s the point that Bowie certainly got across in his last album. Whether or not he knew he was going to leave us two days after Blackstar was released (Jan 8th, which was also his 69th birthday), he still managed to leave his longtime fans with the perfect music bookend to compliment his tremendous four decade spanning career.
You will be missed, Mr. Bowie.
“Blackstar” A bold, yet somber track with an accompanying video that sets up this powerfully dramatic music ride to perfection…and with a little saxophone to go along with it. Bowie bliss.
“‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore” Who knew a track about facing cancer head on could actually be quite daring and fun? Mr. Bowie did. And watch out for those lush, deep instrumentals…they’ll get you.
“Lazarus” Be prepared…the accompanying video will change the way you look at life.
“Sue(Or in a Season of Crime)” The most plugged in song of the Blackstar, packed with heavy guitar riffs, pounding drums and sensual synths that perfectly compliment Bowie’s trademark vocal howls.
“Girl Loves Me” If you don’t understand what Mr. Bowie is saying in this track, don’t adjust your eardrums. He’s actually singing in Nadsat, the language used in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, and also Polari, a slang language from gay clubs in 70s London. Don’t try it, because no one can do it better than Bowie. F&cking brilliant.
“Dollar Days” The smoothest ride on the Backstair music spaceship…with lyrics “Can’t spend my life in shame
Making light of these dark days” and a sax that will get you where it musically hurts.
“I Can’t Give Everything Away” No you can’t, Mr. Bowie, but what you can give us is a brilliant final record and a music legacy that will remain untouched, and that’s exactly what you did.