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David Bowie – “Lazarus”

Art isn’t necessarily just an output, or a mere creation.  It’s who you are.  It flows through your veins.

David Bowie personified that, from his fashion to his role in movies.  The man was a true artist in everything he did, even his own death.  While the general public remained blissfully unaware of the cancer that was slowly killing him, Bowie turned to music to tell his story through 2016’s Blackstar.   The album was unusual not because it was released shortly before his demise, but because the album was created with the artist fully aware of his own impending death – it was a parting gift, you might say.

For that reason, Blackstar was and still is a very unique record.  At a mere seven songs, there’s not a single moment that doesn’t hit listeners right in the gut.  However, it’s difficult to select any track other than ‘Lazarus’ – the song that most directly addresses his death – as one of the most emotional moments of the entire decade.  “Look up here, I’m in heaven…I’ve got scars that can’t be seen” he sings, slyly alluding to the cancer that he was hiding at the time the song was written.  It ends with him saying, “Oh, I’ll be free…Ain’t that just like me?” – foreshadowing his spiritual ascension from this world.  It’s all very haunting, and devastating to think that he knew all along.

Musically the track is downtempo, with jazz influences and jarring interrupt passages.  It’s not overly complex or showy by his standards – it’s just Bowie, pouring out his soul into a recording that he knew he wouldn’t be around very long to experience.  In a sense, it’s a musical time capsule – this vessel in which he placed his words and song to be heard at a later date.  One can only imagine how difficult it must have been for him to write and record this song, fully knowing the implications that it would bear once he passed on.  It’s almost unsettling the way that we were able to listen to Bowie’s farewell for days without realizing what it was. He was essentially writing his own eulogy; expressing to us through music a secret that he kept hidden for eighteen months. As a fan of Bowie the person, ‘Lazarus’ is eerie and depressing. As a fan of Bowie the artist, it’s downright brilliant.  He was a true artist in life, and he remains one in death.

Rest in peace to an absolute legend.

Read more from this decade at my homepage for Sowing’s Songs of the Decade.

One of the more obvious/expected inclusions IMO. This track is iconic.

Classic tune, great write up

Truly a 10/10 song

Yeah, this song is incredible. Blackstar was such an event and truly one of his best albums. What a way to go out.

Was between this and the title track for me, but Lazarus hits a bit harder in the lyrical department

Hell yeah Sowing - I personally prefer "Dollar Days" by a slim margin but I do think "Lazarus" is more significant within the context of the album and Bowie's passing, and both songs (and Blackstar as a whole) are hard 5s anyway


Dollar Days is awesome too but that's kind of how I feel about all the songs. 'Lazarus' is the only one that has that ~iconic aura~ about it where it just feels like it should be enshrined in some memorial to the greatest rock legends to ever walk the Earth...or, something. So anyway, basically what you said.

Beautiful pick, would definitely rank in my top 10 of the decade. Out of curiosity, where would you rate this one relative to the rest of Bowie's discog?

Great song, nice to see it make your list.

Thanks fellas. Honestly I haven't heard his entire discog (Blackstar is one of four of his albums I've heard in full) but it's by far my favorite work of his.

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