Lazarus, by David Bowie

When David died, we’d been listening to his music above all other choice of artists, ever since mid-September- a year ago-if not earlier.david-bowie-concert

I mean, putting on a queue, listening to it 20-40 songs deep, re-arranging it every few days kind of immersion (and still I had not found “Miracle Goodnight” or his cover of “Cactus”- to that one, I owe my friend Dave Kraft, looking for favorite Pixies songs to play when we visit).

Miracle Goodnight

I listened to “Lazarus” tracks on his birthday weekend, and then, as the song says: “where the fuck did Monday go?”  I started writing this, put 5,000 words into it- and never completed or posted it.

I think I’ll simply post it as-is, an unfinished but wide-rambling piece that talks about the video and tries to digest the news: David Bowie, R.I.P.  I’m very sorry for his family and close friends.  He visits dreams of my own friends, such as writer Matthew David Curry (author of Finding Drake Novak and more).  He passes hours washing McDonald’s dishes with my wife.   I wonder when he ever thought, writing, covering, recording, performing so many, many songs: “these things carry on.  Expressions of moments in time become artifacts, shared and revisited over time.”  Did he ever have such a thought when he was neophyte performer David Jones?  He could not have missed that ponderance in his retired years.  It’s too bad this is all so somber, because in each interview, he had some conversational moment that made him or the interviewer laugh.

Bowie- Right

Here’s my thoughts on “Lazarus” the week we said goodbye to Robert David Heywood Jones.  Long live Bowie!

 

Free to live again.  Some part of us that rises from the grave, beckoned by a holy, creative power.  “Lazarus.”

David, that is just amazing.

I don’t feel I can talk about your song without your video, your final video performance.  You pretty much invented modern rock videos with “John, I’m Only Dancing,” according to Lester Bangs, you know.  Well, it shows.

Lazarus

You owned the most personal of awful inevitability, and right before our eyes, before we had much time to analyze your somehow, didn’t quite no why disturbing and pitiful video, what amazed us was transformed by your transition.  What artist of your stature better snared the attention of the world with a deliberately final performance?   I think you would consider the Seventies full of days more awful yet than these you last had, but like some sonic Book of the Dead, you spent your final time preparing in every possible way, and here you left the last songs, the Gospel According To Bowie, one might say, and whatever’s in here is bound to have seemed quite important to you, the last images put together, concealed again in a brilliant suggestion that anything can be snatched up and used to create religion, costumed again in one final Bowie character, with a brand new quartet to open another innovative direction for which to live, honestly.

0819162031aIntegr8d Soul, Bowie Tribute, Aug. 19th             We presented/ guest sang  on 13 songs! 😀

So here is the theme bearing this character’s name, “Lazarus.”  I believe Bowie had something in mind that Lazarus was a false prophet, a declaimer of a new religion based on misunderstandings dating back to the origins of what, visually, was intended to evoke Major Tom, the lost astronaut from “Space Oddity,” the Alpha to this Omega.  His inevitable end has left us only his crystalized skull, and from there the “Blackstar” video suggests religion has a dark side.

What’s happened is, Bowie, as David Jones, has disappeared, but will rise again as inspiration, the same enthusiasm that makes all new forms, the oblique strategies, if you will, by which one may gamble on immortality, at least, for so long as remembered by mortal kind.

The video opens with a wardrobe chest in a bleakly-colored room.  One cannot miss the symbolic twin-ship with a coffin here, or is it a womb, or even a portal?  At any rate, it is not Bowie, but a girl child, who emerges first from chest.  That is, after this, it will be someone else who will emerge and live, and no longer this Lazarus who’s come one last time on stage to declare his freedom from performance, even the performance of courage while enduring terminal pain.  She’s almost certainly a fellow character in this final tale, and he may have changed his mind about exactly who he thought they were, his last messengers.  But is his point about we others who will carry on creativity made by this girl, or is she Death?  Cancer?

david

Masked, willfully blindfolded, a kind of last ersatz science fiction super hero, Bowie, with his funny, unnerving, altogether weird glued on replacement eyes, buttons, seems like a doll, personified as an aged, dying man.  He mimes his physical struggle; the camera turns to give us the effects of the pain drugs; he smiles impossibly wide, with joy that suffering will end, and then he will be free to be something that, once again, he had not been before!

Look up here, I’m in Heaven

He made a performance piece about his secret, private pain and suffering, and the triumph of making the body sit and write, create and create again, despite the whorling of reality. and mastered his fear of the unknown.  Through his primitive, shamanistic mask, David mimes simple, direct, honest truth about his feelings.  Call it disturbing, but art is not meant to only comfort and numb us.   He seized an opportunity from a horrible condition!

France David Bowie
David Bowie sits holding a cigarette in Cannes, May, 1983. (AP Photo)

So here is the theme bearing this character’s name, “Lazarus.”  I believe Bowie had something in mind that Lazarus was a false prophet, a declaimer of a new religion based on misunderstandings dating back to the origins of what, visually, was intended to evoke Major Tom, the lost astronaut from “Space Oddity,” the Alpha to this Omega.  His inevitable end has left us only his crystalized skull, and from there the “Blackstar” video suggests religion has a dark side.

What’s happened is, Bowie, as David Jones, has disappeared, but will rise again as inspiration, the same enthusiasm that makes all new forms, the oblique strategies, if you will, by which one may gamble on immortality, at least, for so long as remembered by mortal kind.

The video opens with a wardrobe chest in a bleakly-colored room.  One cannot miss the symbolic twinship with a coffin here, or is it a womb, or even a portal?  At any rate, it is not Bowie, but a girl child, who emerges first from chest.  That is, after this, it will be someone else who will emerge and live, and no longer this Lazarus who’s come one last time on stage to declare his freedom from performance, even the performance of courage while enduring terminal pain.  She’s almost certainly a fellow character in this final tale, and he may have changed his mind about exactly who he thought they were, his last messengers.  But is his point about we others who will carry on creativity made by this girl, or is she Death?  Cancer?

Masked, willfully blindfolded, a kind of last ersatz science fiction super hero, Bowie, with his funny, unnerving, altogether weird glued on replacement eyes, buttons, seems like a doll, personified as an aged, dying man.  He mimes his physical struggle; the camera turns to give us the effects of the pain drugs; he smiles impossibly wide, with joy that suffering will end, and then he will be free to be something that, once again, he had not been before!

Look up here, I’m in Heaven

He made a performance piece about his secret, private pain and suffering, and the triumph of making the body sit and write, create and create again, despite the whorling of reality. and mastered his fear of the unknown.  Through his primitive, shamanistic mask, David mimes simple, direct, honest truth about his feelings.  Call it disturbing, but art is not meant to only comfort and numb us.   He seized an opportunity from a horrible condition!

Blackstar video inspired by Popeye? I love you, David!!!  LOL

The mask itself, with buttons replacing the actual eyes, can also be seen as a symbol of mind control, escaping into a false reality for comfort.

blackstar-eyes

Button eyes appear in the movie Coraline, when the titular character is offered a comforting but false virtual, magical reality.   Lazarus, the Blackstar character, was intended as a false prophet, for a religion made up of misunderstandings.

 

Artists, I promise, and the artists in all of us who dream and like to make personal things, will remember the earthly end of DAvid Bowie for generations to come.

Through his spell, he himself is removed, yet all the means of becoming his art are there to yield entirely new bonds in both soundscape and song.  I smile that, on his last birthday, 69, at that, hah!—David smiled, too.  As brightly as a man free from struggle with pessimism, as knowing he is loved as can be, I trust his art in a way because it belonged to a man who found triumph in ways that make the hoards of us outsiders overjoyed with the task of discovery and creativity.  Something to dance to is healthy if you are able, just as brooding music can open such reflective private mindscapes, too.   Changing styles, for a compelling reason, is an urge that benefits an intelligent person, but Bowie did it in a legendary way you can read about or maybe already remember in considerable detail.  So let’s just start where he always found himself again, one human being meditating on words that might fit the sounds of a song, and a melody to make it again his own, after returning from his suggestions through the crack shot abilities of his NYC jazz club discovery quartet.

David Bowie Lazarus Photos 2.tif
David Bowie Lazarus Photos 2.tif

I think Bowie felt he could not take a chance that this might be the end and here might he be without his own address of the matter.  What a lost opportunity, to pile on top of all the years that might have been!   It would render death more senseless yet, and he had mused upon Death far too long to say nothing with foreknowledge of the end.

“Searching for music is like searching for God,” Bowie said to 60 Minutes once.  Spiritual concerns have driven his questioning lyrics.  I feel a kinship with the man in that.  And if I’ve never been a rock star, tied steady to one quiet woman with her marvelous voice and will, then a guy who we think invented so many of the rock star tropes or at least stole the best of all he could find and put them in a performance blender also said, in the 2005 interview, that he never considered himself a rock star.  Writing, recording songs—he was so glad that had worked out for him professionally.  He met again and again with new inspirations.  It’s charming that he painted and drew, too.  One true love romance, a seven year wait for their one child together, and you have one nice, long, happy ending that replaces time spent lingering over regrets.  Relatively speaking, it never was all horrible, however sad, and love and life and happiness and surprise won out.    An artist works with the material at hand.  I honor this bold work, with sympathy for those who knew and loved him best, not for what he could give the world, but for who he was to them.  You don’t want to lose track of those who care for you, however filled your isolated artistic world may seem in the contentedness of your own company.

bowie-laz

So there in his mask, his eyes are darkened, as the performer faces the darkness to come in a mask of his own device, for it is the material appearance of things that is to change, and into the darkness he sees, he mimes his interpretation of these words.

Look up here, I’m in Heaven.

I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.

 

There you have it.  I’ve not edited the above, just added some pics and links.

Really, only readers can make it complete.

Love, Lue Lyron

 

 

 

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