“The truth of course, is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.” ~ David Bowie
It’s now been almost three months since the release of David Bowie’s, Blackstar, his last and final album. I purchased this album on January 8th, 2016, and immediately began listening, becoming more and more intrigued by its nuances. Every song on the album holds its own. Two days later, Bowie passed away after an 18-month battle with cancer. Listening back after his death, it all began to make sense. Bowie knew he was dying, and this album was his last farewell.
Before this album, I wouldn’t of called myself a David Bowie fan. I probably wouldn’t have even given it an initial listen if it weren’t for the musicians playing on it — Mark Guiliana, Jason Lindner, Tim Lefebvre, and Donny McCaslin. From Jason Lindner’s Now vs Now, to Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music, I was interested to hear Blackstar, and it didn’t disappoint.
This is one of my favorite new albums.
As a percussionist, I really dig Mark Guiliana’s drumming, but in Blackstar, Bowie’s performance is what really shines through. There’s always something captivating about raw human emotion and spirit. I now find that it’s the imperfections that make the music for me. Growing up in music education, a lot of the focus was on being as perfect as possible…never making a mistake. We are in the age of autotuned, artificial, and perfect sounding vocals — masking the truth behind the real music. It’s analogous to our society, focusing on appearing to be something, rather than just really being that. Now, I realize that what really makes the music for me is the raw, true, human imperfections, and this is something very real that comes through Bowie’s performance.
“On the other hand, what I like my music to do to me is awaken the ghosts inside of me. Not the demons, you understand, but the ghosts.”
Yes, the album can be a little dark for some — especially in the music videos — but most of it is in the context of thinking about death. Bowie has always seemed to have a very unique vision to his artwork. Given that I wrote about death in a previous article, Why You Should Think About Your Death, I would recommend giving this album a listen from that perspective — as Bowie was definitely thinking about it during the making of Blackstar, his final departure and his arrival, as he appropriately puts it.