David Bowie, a ground-breaking master of presentation as well as a consummate songwriter and musician, seemingly orchestrated his own epitaph with his latest album Blackstar and the haunting music video Lazarus.
The album was released last Thursday — on his 69th birthday and ultimately two days before his death, after having battled cancer for 18 months — along with a new video for the poignant single Lazarus.
"Look up here, I'm in heaven. I've got scars that can't be seen. I've got drama, can't be stolen. Everybody knows me now," the song begins.
"This way or no way. You know, I'll be free. Just like that bluebird. Now ain't that just like me," it concludes.
In the haunting video, Bowie reprises the blind prophet persona he introduced in the eerie video for the title track Blackstar in November. In Lazarus, however, he lays writhing in a hospital bed as an ominous, dark figure under the bed reaches up towards him. Other scenes show the iconic musician sitting bent over a desk adorned with a skull, frantically scribbling a message before finally retreating into a wardrobe.
"His death was no different from his life — a work of art," longtime producer Tony Visconti, a frequent collaborator of Bowie's over the decades, wrote in a tribute he posted via Facebook.
"He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn't, however, prepared for it."
Lazarus by David Bowie
Look up here, I'm in heaven
I've got scars that can't be seen
I've got drama, can't be stolen
Everybody knows me now
Look up here, man, I'm in danger
I've got nothing left to lose
I'm so high it makes my brain whirl
Dropped my cellphone down below
Ain't that just like me
By the time I got to New York
I was living like a king
Then I used up all my money
I was looking for your ass
This way or no way
You know, I'll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now ain't that just like me