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MANILA, Philippines – “Look up here, I’m in heaven / I’ve got scars that can’t be seen” thus opens David Bowie’s last single, “Lazarus” from his 25th and final studio album, Blackstar.
Was David Bowie bidding farewell to his fans? Was he giving clues to his declining health? (READ: Music legend David Bowie dies)
The music video for “Lazarus” depicts Bowie in bleak imagery: desperately convulsing on a hospital bed, and ending with him vanishing into a dark wooden closet.
An allusion to Lazarus, a Christian figure, the song itself – like the album as a whole – can just be seen as an enigmatic reflection on mortality, as several reviews and obituaries have suggested.
It was also originally written for the eponymous Off-Broadway play based on the 1976 sci-fi film The Man Who Fell to Earth, where Bowie starred.
However, it can now be seen in an entirely different light.
His long-time collaborator, Grammy-winning producer Tony Visconti wrote a Facebook status update to say that the release of Bowie’s final album was indeed made as a “parting gift” for fans.
“He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way,” Visconti said. “His death was no different from his life – a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift.”
Visconti went on to explicitly admit that he had known Blackstar was Bowie’s last: “I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it.”
Visconti had worked with Bowie since his second studio album, Space Oddity, released in 1969, up until Blackstar, released on January 8, Friday.
The prolific and legendary British artist succumbed to an 18-month bout with cancer, on January 10, Sunday (January 11, Monday, in Manila). He was 69 years old. (READ: Stars mourn David Bowie’s death)
Details about his declining health had been publicly unknown prior to his death, as obituaries on major news and entertainment channels suggest. “People will now look for hints in his recent music, and they’ll find them,” says The New Yorker in a post-script to its Blackstar feature. – Rappler.com
Paolo Abad is a film/television editor and motion graphic designer. He is also a self-confessed concert junkie. Follow his Instagram for live music @outoftunephoto