Blackstar: The Album (Open Thread)


It’s out: a new album, from “Blackstar” to “I Can’t Give Everything Away.” Whether you’re listening to it on LP or CD, streaming it on your phone or having someone hum bits of it to you, here’s a place to record your first reactions.

Try to keep responses moderate. If someone says “this album sucks,” don’t take it personally. If you happen to think that the album does indeed suck, please don’t write that people who like it are “sheep” or have bad taste. And so on.

Happy listening, happy new Bowie album day.

374 Responses to Blackstar: The Album (Open Thread)

  1. igamoore says:

    It’s fun to hear Danny McCaslin play the role a David Torn or Robert Fripp might have in the past. Little squiggles of saxophone all over the place, coupled with some absolutely lovely solos. It’s difficult not to see The Next Day as exceedingly safe after listening to this.

  2. Vanessa says:

    I personally find that almosy every song reminds me of another album or song DB made in the past Blackstar reminds me of the song Station to Station due to the changes in tempo similar to Station. Lazarus has a very strange atmosphere to it. A hopeless one that sort of reminds me of Low. Girl Loves Me sort of reminds me of Outside with the whole mysterious atmosphere to it. Dollar Days reminds me of Reality, it reminds me of Try Some Buy Some. The whole sound to it just seems reminiscent of the album. I Can’t Give Everything away sounds very much like a song that would be on Black Tie White Noise, the whole sound and rhythm of it really makes it. I love the album and love the demos reworked.

    • Sky-Possessing Spider says:

      Actually, I was thinking I Can’t Give Everything Away very much has an echo of Soul Love in its’ structure, While the re-worked ‘Tis a Pity (etc.) has several “whoos” like the title track of Reality.

    • Vinnie says:

      Seconded! I felt the exact same Black Tie/White Noise-vibe on “I Can’t Give Everything Away”

      • Mr Tagomi says:

        The synth on I Can’t Give Everything Away keeps making me think of Blah Blah Blah, but not really anything specific from that album.

      • add2add6 says:

        I remember thinking about Station To Station, Outside and then a little bit about Black Tie White Noise, as SOON as I’d completed a single listen to the Blackstar title track. Video carried some nods to Outside as well, specifically an image from the liner notes with Bowie’s eyes covered by white cloth, just no fish strapped to his body this time. With the understanding that we’re not to receive new music from Bowie’s camp, I feel it’s safe to say that Blackstar is of a piece with my previous three favourite albums, so now I have four favourites.

    • I recognized a similar sound between Lazarus and Afraid from Heathen. Try swapping the lyrics around for a fun time.

      • CragRaven says:

        Lazarus also reminds me of ‘Slip Away’.

      • Phil Obbard says:

        They are also both the #3 track on their respective LPs. In recent history, that’s been Bowie’s designated spot for songs ruminating on fame (no matter how fleeting) and the passage of time: “Slip Away”, “Never Get Old”, “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”, and now “Lazarus”…

    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely, that’s exactly what I thought,( having only heard it post mortem). I got the impression David was reliving every moment of his musical and theatrical life in that one album. And every time I listen to a track I hear yet another reference to an earlier song.

    • Sparkeyes says:

      An interesting echo of Can You Hear Me in Lazarus: the tempo, the spacing of the lines, the saxophone embellishments – maybe more in the key/chords the musical among you could confirm?
      That said, they are extremely different animals.

  3. Alon Shmuel says:

    What a pleasant surprise! The first two singles did nothing for me, and I had very low expectations from the album, but the other 5 songs are much better. “I Can’t Give Everything Away” sounds like a great song from Never Let Me Down (but also from Black Tie White Noise, as Venessa said). “Bowie’s most far-out album”? I don’t think so, not even close, just a good one.

    • Bowietie daddy says:

      I Can’t Give Everything Away has a similar harmonica melody line featured in Never let me down (the single). That’s why maybe it reminded you of the album.

    • Galdo says:

      The harmonica sounds closer to ‘A New Career In a New Town’.

      • Bowietie daddy says:


      • That was my first thought too. I think it’s close enough to Career to consider it a deliberate reference.

      • Vinnie says:

        As much as I’m (generally) not a fan of harmonicas, the use in “A New Career in a New Town” is one of my favorite things.

        If anyone’s seen “The Littlest Hobo”, I’ve always imagined ANCIANT to be a theme-song to an unreleased CBC adventure show

      • dm says:

        I’ll just add to those saying this must be a deliberate reference. It’s actually quite fun to try to sing the chorus over New Career. Doesn’t quite fit, but becomes this twisted, snarky, faux-upbeat version of “I can’t give”

      • johnozed says:

        Definitely New Career.
        The song tears me up.

      • Mike says:

        I understood that the harmonica was sampled from A New Career in a New Town, so it is more than just similar, and consequently intentional?

        Similarly the chord pattern in Lazarus (Am to F) is exactly the same as the chorus in Slip Away (“Twinkle twinkle Uncle Floyd”) – same timing, same vocal phrasing. Again probably intentional?

        So many symbols and links back to past works in this album and supporting videos. Now ain’t that just like Bowie?

  4. Find all of it absolutely brilliant and very fresh !
    Funny little gem : opening sax on I cant give everything away sounds exactly like NLMD 🙂

  5. Opening sax on : I cant give everything away is very similar to the sax on NLMD 🙂
    I find the entire album absolutely brilliant and fresh 🙂

  6. Deanna says:

    The new version of “Sue” is incredible! I don’t at all feel shortchanged for having it and “Tis a Pity” on the album because they’re so new and fresh.

    The other new songs are amazing, but right now I really can’t focus on anything but “Girl Loves Me”. It is outstanding!! I think it’s going to skyrocket to one of my favourite Bowie songs ever. It’s everything I never knew I wanted.

    This is so exciting!!

    • add2add6 says:

      It’s the most severe song (not including Tin Machine) since Scream Like A Baby, in terms of it just taking everything about the character of its parent album, thus far in the song sequence, and then bludgeoning the senses with higher and higher stakes. No idea why the least direct set of lyrics to be found on all of Blackstar are the most potent in execution, but all of Girl Loves Me feels like a weapon and I love that it has the power to do that.

  7. Angus Durer says:

    On first listen, Blackstar is wonderfully dense and more melodic than some reviews suggest. Fantastic reworkings of “Sue” & “…Whore” with “I can’t give everything away” an immediate standout. Looking forward to getting to grips with the slower burning tracks. tracks. Still thrilling and surprising at 69. Thank you Mr Bowie and Happy Birhday.

  8. Em² says:

    There’s been a slight melancholia to Bowie’s lyrics since Heathen. A sense of mortality perhaps. Of the previously unheard tracks Girl Loves Me hits me between the ears the most. Certainly Blackstar as an album is bold artistically without straying into Latter day Scott Walker territory too much ,which I welcome.

  9. tarff26 says:

    Very pleasant first listen. Tis a Pity…and I Can’t Give Everything Away immediately stand out. Not as enamoured with Dollar Days or Girl Loves Me as yet. Lazarus sounds a thousand times more interesting here than as a stand-alone. Some fantastic tunes in there, I just wish there were more of them.

  10. Anonymous says:

    First listen; his best album since Earthling.

  11. Mark says:

    Much better than ‘The Next Day’, actually sounds like a ‘true’ Bowie album and not reworking’s of old out-takes. It is what we all fell in love with Bowie’s music for!

  12. heynongman says:

    I’ve listened to it a lot, and I have to say it’s pretty damn amazing. I’m having a hard time finding a favorite because each song is pretty successful. Right now it’s between “Lazarus” and “Dollar Days.” “Dollar Days” is just beautiful and reminds me a bit of “Mass Production.”

    I hate to be a cliche, but this is really, imo, the best thing since Scary Monsters. I’m a huge fan of Outside, but in terms of a complete experience, Blackstar seems to be a superior work. In a few years, I think we’ll stack this album against any of his others.

    Interesting note. I’ve gone back to listen to Next Day, and it works really well with this album. I doubt there’s any significance.

  13. alex says:

    “Sue” has balls. Who knew?

  14. SylvieD says:

    I really really like this album. As some people have already said, it has almost perfect balance between melodic ballads and jazzy meandering atmosphere. Love the new “Tis Pity” And a song in a made up language ? It warms my writing heart. I hear more freshness than old sounds, but that’s probably because I haven’t listened to NLMD in 25 years.

  15. Sinj says:

    I’m mainly liking that it doesn’t let up. There’s no flippancy, no “Dancing out in Space” or “Everyone Says Hi” – intense, but not without humour. The sound of it is just overwhelming in its depth and breadth (compared to the fuzzy production on TND).

    I need another 38 listens to really decide where it sits in my brain.

  16. steven says:

    I don’t have any complaints. The sax makes the whole thing. Nicely batty (Girl Loves Me is an perfect high, reminds me of a few tracks on Byrne’s Uh-Oh, with the yelping. Girls On My Mind especially).

    I love the sniffles and shuffling between tracks, which keeps everything cohesive. It’s a surprise how well it hangs together given when it was announced it looked like it was going to be a bunch of disparate songs stapled together and put out for sale.

    I’m not going to pretend that Bowie read the comments on here when I wrote about hopes for a post-TND album and made one to those specifications (ditch the band, keep it short and focussed, spacey and weird) but he may well have done. Pitched somewhere between Station to Station and Outside, it’s everything I’d want from him.

    • steven says:

      ‘may well have done’ is meant to say ‘may as well have done’, which slightly changes the meaning.

      I think the big difference, which even impacts amazing albums like Heathen, is that Bowie’s music finally sounds like there’s room to breathe in the mix again. Everyone’s done a great job

      • add2add6 says:

        Reality definitely felt like a mess compared to Heathen, sonically speaking. The Next Day is just mastered too hot. Even my favourite track from that album, If You Can See Me, those hi-hats cut like glass. Blackstar was definitely the nicest sounding record Bowie made with Visconti, ever.

  17. Jaf says:

    I’ve listened a few times now and it sounds absolutely wonderful. I just wanted to say that the packaging for the vinyl version is terrific as well. I haven’t seen the cd but Barnbrook has done a great job on the design for the lp that’s for sure.

    • fantailfan says:

      Black type on black is a statement.

      • Vinnie says:

        For a mainstream artist to do black-on-black, sure, but it’s already been done a lot (Historically: White Light/White Heat. Recently? Dean Blunt’s Black Metal). I still think Bowie should have been on the front, but I won’t shut up about this until it happens again. (He’s too handsome. And iconic.)

      • col1234 says:

        but it fits the current “persona.” This is the post-Bowie, who no longer does interviews or appears on LP covers

      • fantailfan says:

        First time he hasn’t been on the cover of one of his albums?

      • Paul O says:

        Original (non-US/Canada) Buddha of Suburbia release?

      • Sparkeyes says:

        US MWSTW?

      • Vinnie says:

        I want to retract my statement re: “Bowie should have been on the front”: The cover, the title, it all fits. It makes too much sense. A very handsome, very vain man probably didn’t want to leave the image of himself sick out front and center – keep it abstract, keep it black. The photo in the gatefold of the vinyl edition (where Bowie looks very fragile) was hard to look at on Friday, and now, today, it’s too much – it’s one of the only photos of the man I can think of where he allows himself to look human.

  18. Jim Baxter says:

    Great on a first listen. Cohesive and weird, and likely to reward repeated listens I think, probably more so than TND.

    Not wanting to start a game of spot the self-reference, but the harmonica riff in ‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’ is pretty much lifted from A New Career in a New Town, isn’t it?

    • Vanessa says:

      sounds more like the riff in never let me down in my opinion. i need to listen to those 3 again

    • Mr Tagomi says:

      I read that it “subtly” referenced A New Career, but it is in fact basically a direct quote from it.

      Seems like a very lovely song at this early stage.

      I bought this on vinyl today. Maybe this is why I’m feeling the same sort of feeling that I used to feel around age 16 or 17 whenever I got a new Bowie album during my vinyl-based voyage of discovery through his canon.

  19. djonn says:

    Love this album! So wonderfully dense with little details noticed with each listen. Also very muscular! The production is so full. The drums, bass, guitar and sax locking and unlocking seemingly at will! And DB’s voice! Can’t help but sing along in mock operatic falsetto with Tis A Pity…

  20. garax says:

    My god – it’s full of stars! I can’t even remember the last time I heard any album by anyone which demanded to be listened all the way through in one listen. no skipping. It’s remarkable!

  21. rob says:

    What a joy to listen to ★. It reminds me of Young Americans, Station To Station and Low, when he radically changed directions. And yes, it’s pretty damn good stuff also.
    Better than TND, for instance. ★ is just vintage Bowie. It really makes me excited and hopeful for some pretty amazing stuff in the (near?) future. Bowie still rocks! Or should I say jazzs…?

    By the way, happy annivesary David! And thank you so much for this incredible gift. Hallelujah I love you so! (I’m proud to be a Bowie-fan!)

  22. Phoeniques says:

    It is really a brilliant one. So good to have the man far outside the box again. And honestly; “`Tis is a pity…” really caused goosebumps. I missed that timbre so much….

  23. Mike says:

    I really like that he “returned to Oz” with Lazarus and those bluebirds. The music video even has wardrobe to Narnia for Kabbalah outfit David to exit into at the end.

    • Abby says:

      I didn’t think of Narnia! That’s a great reference, and it probably is where Kabbalah Bowie ended up.

      • says:

        Narnia or trapped in his own Labyrinth perhaps. I just wish there was an official release of Starman from the 72 Rainbow concert.

  24. Landon Brown says:

    The album is utterly gorgeous. The older tracks which I had little love for (S.U.E. & ‘Tis a Pity) are reworked magnificently. The new songs are fantastic, most notably Girl Loves Me, which is the most hip-hop I’ve ever heard Bowie. This album is a career topper like few – if any – artists can lay claim to. I feel privileged to be alive for this moment. What a sublime record and glorious personal accomplishment.

  25. Tyrell says:

    I am wondering why the lyrics of “`Tis is a pity…” are missing in the CD booklet.

  26. Lux says:

    Happy Bowie birthday too.

  27. I do love TND so I will be overjoyed if Blackstar is as good. It is pretty easy to tell after just playing it a couple of times that Blackstar is a great album, but all the Bowie albums I like the most have continued to grow on me for months, so just how much I will like it is hard to say. So far I think 5 out of 7 songs are excellent. I am a bit uncertain about how much I like “I can’t give everyting away”. The only song I don’t like much (so far) is “Girl Loves Me”. It starts out very promising, but then it just drags on without much variation. It feels like it is at least two minutes too long. (Same problem as “Boss of Me” had on TND.) But maybe it will grow on me.

    I do like the original versions of “Tis a Pity” (I know it is a demo) and “Sue”, but I find the reworkings really interesting and extremely “physical”. I wasn’t able to sit still while listening to them on headphones the rythm was so powerful.

    By the way, I was immensly impressed by the Lazarus video. It seems to me that it is even more powerful than the video for Blackstar although much simpler.

    • steven says:

      Weirdly the combined effect of the blackstar and lazarus videos is to make me want this new creepy weird Bowie to star in a Labyrinth sequel, with Connelly and an off-kilter Return to Oz vibe. Suspect this wish will not be coming true anytime soon.

      Fact is, abundantly clear he could still pull off the tights. mystifying.

      • Phil Obbard says:

        This is an AMAZING idea (and I say this as someone who’s always been lukewarm on Labyrinth). A sequel set 30 years later. Same cast.

        If DB is reading, this would make a great follow-up to Lazarus. 😛

      • col1234 says:

        that is an amazing idea. and stranger things have happened.

      • theflaninthehighcastle says:

        I’m fascinated by the parallels (and sharp differences) between the Blackstar and Lazarus videos. Button Eyes is back, but he’s been hospitalised. He doesn’t seem to be on that alien world any more – was it all in his head? But we never see what’s outside the hospital, so who knows. The skull of Major Tom sits on the desk of another Bowie incarnation (perhaps the huckster character from Blackstar). Will it haunt Bowie’s work from now on, or was it exhumed for this album alone?

        I’d be interested to hear how the song Lazarus actually fits in the narrative of the musical – could Button Eyes actually *be* Thomas Jerome Newton, in some sense?

      • Jason Das says:

        “… could Button Eyes actually *be* Thomas Jerome Newton, in some sense?” … having seen the musical, this video felt like if Bowie played Newton instead of Michael C. Hall. Not everything lines up, but enough does.

        Also, I would love to see that Labyrinth sequel! (And I’m not even that big a fan of the first one.)

      • Vinnie says:

        I’d see a midnight show of Labyrinth 2 (thumbs up emoji)

  28. I’m honestly surprised by how amazing this album is. The Next Day was fine but I was too caught up in the excitement of a new Bowie album to listen to it objectively but Blackstar doesn’t even need the boost of nostalgia. The songs loosely fit together thematically but stylistically they jump around all over the place in a great way. I’m especially digging ‘Dollar Days’ and ‘Girl Loves Me’ and the re-do of ‘Sue’ is a grand thing.

  29. sg07 says:

    I am certain I have heard the melody to the first few lines of “I cant give everything” before. Maybe in an earlier bowie song? But I just cannot recall what. If anyone knows, please tell me.

    ★ is really great though, it’s shorter than TND, but I think it benefits from it not having any “meh” tracks.

    • Phil Obbard says:

      With the possible exceptions of BUDDHA and EARTHLING, I think (strictly IMO of course) that Bowie has spent the post-TM era making LPs that are generally too long — either testing the listener’s patience a bit or letting b-side material make the LP itself. Seems like he’s avoided that trap this time around (and I’ll gladly pay for the 2 CD deluxe Blackstar in 6 months’ time just to get those b-sides…!)

      • Vinnie says:

        The “artistic statement” of an LP is really enough music to fit onto a single piece of wax – 44 minutes at most, less if you’re able. The CD era hit a lot of musicians hard. Blackstar is perfect in length, to me, anyway.

    • zappuccino says:

      I think the melody to the opening bars of “I Can’t Give Everything Away” has been borrowed from the “ooo ooo” backing vocals to the verses of TVC15. My favourite song so far from a miraculous album.

    • At around :26 I’m hearing Soul Love.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’ve been listening to Ziggy all week, over and over. I couldn’t face listening to Blackstar just yet, but tonight….omg…I am. I’m hearing soul love right there. He must have left so many messages in there for us to find.

    • col1234 says:

      the verse melody of Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou” a bit (“feel so bad I got a worried mind”)

    • Jim Gardner says:

      I think it is reminiscent of A New Career in a New Town from Low

    • Christian says:

      Soul Love, I think, sg07.

  30. King of Oblivion says:

    Sometimes I cool from my initial impressions of Bowie albums but I am in love with this thing so far. Thinking it will certainly enter my personal Bowie Top Ten. Amazed at how this ‘jazz’ band kicks out ‘Tis a Pity’… the hardest groove Bowie has put out in some time, can’t sit down to it. And the way the sequencing moves from the scary, intense tracks and then sends you home with a pair of classic gorgeously romantic Bowie ballads… I had tears in my eyes!

  31. Mike says:

    What’s a good resource on Polari? I really like Girl Loves Me but it’s gibberish to my American ears.

  32. jopasso says:

    Listened to it twice, and here goes MY review

    1. Blackstar – He gave us his best song in decades two months in advance, so the rest of the songs pale in comparison.

    2. Tis Pity She Was A Whore – Great rearrangement that makes it more listenable

    3.Lazarus – Good one. I personally prefer the short version

    4. Sue – Improved but I still don´t buy it

    5. Girl Loves Me – Sorry. It sounds like an Outside outtake. Completely forgettable

    6. Dollar Days – Here I see crepuscular Lennon under a brilliant sax. Average

    7. I Can’t Give Everything Away – Thurday’s child+Never let me down+Jump they say. The one that sticks in your brain at first listen.

    So, it’s better than I expected but quite frustrating after Blackstar (the song) first shock.
    The pros: Incredible band, brilliant sound, and good “flow”.
    Blackstar is classic and I can’t give everything away is outstanding. The rest, meh


  33. First sense – it’s like Station to Station sieved through Black Tie White Noise.

    • Bowietie daddy says:

      Station to station – Black star: First, a long suite. Short overall duration. Each albums are roughly 40 minutes long. Dark vibes+Dance sounds.
      Black Tie White Noise: The sax.
      It’s a very 90 album (Outside, Black tie…, even Earthling with those broken beats).

  34. Brian Baker says:

    Girl Loves Me uses some Nadsat, the language in Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. I can hear strong echoes of Slip Away’s chorus in Lazarus, and I’m surprised at how propulsive (even danceable) tracks like I Can’t Give Everything Away are. Terrific album.

  35. Abby says:

    For those who have the CD — how good are the packaging/liner notes? Should I forgo the instant gratification of a download and get the CD?

    • steven says:

      The CD looks great – far better than you’d think from the iTunes picture. It’s great package. Suspect the vinyl is even nicer.

    • fantailfan says:

      The booklet PDF download (from has the lyrics in dark gray on black.

    • deleted says:

      The cd has cool packaging and some pictures, a lyric sheet, etc. if you get the cd from amazon you get a free mp3 download.

    • Abby says:

      Thanks for the responses. A few hours after I wrote this I went to my local Barnes and Noble and picked up the CD. I just couldn’t stand it any more. And I’m glad I got it.

  36. verdelay says:

    Cohesive, very much it’s own thing, but as ever it is always difficult to filter out the Ghosts of Bowie Past:

    bs = 1.O / (BtWn x StS) + TND-(hrs x He, Lw)

  37. The Mekons says:

    I’m old. My parents bought me Ziggy Stardust and Hunky Dory for Christmas 1972 after I bugged them for months. I still remember my cousin saying to my father as I pulled Ziggy from its sleeve: ‘You do know he’s a poof?’ I was 11. I couldn’t have cared less what he was, but he was like nothing I’d seen or heard before and I knew he was ‘mine’.
    I have greeted every Bowie release since with that same 11-year-old’s excitement. Post-Let’s Dance when his work became, erm, patchy that excitement became imbued with butterfly nerves. I so wanted him be great every time. And even in the Never Let Me Down moments, I would find something to cling to within the creative dross and be stupidly defensive of the work. (Yes, I even stood in a rain-soaked Wembley Stadium and pretended to like the Glass Spider Show, one of the worst concerts I’ve ever seen).
    TND was greeted with shock and awe because of the sheer surprise. But it’s an album that I tend to skip through now – Bowie doing classic Bowie – albeit pretty well.
    Blackstar is the most ‘complete’ album since….well let’s not go there. All I know is that having already played it to death this is a record for ‘us’. Those who embraced the bizarre creative forks in the road (Young Americans/StationtoStation/Low/Outside) and felt excited as we explored who, what, where, when and why he had done it (and gotten ourselves an education in the process). There’s not a duff note here, every song has it’s place, it’s just, well, Bowie. Fuck knows what it’s all about, but that was never really the point. It’s what it means to me. And right now I feel like that 11-year-old boy again. Happy Birthday Dave – thanks.

  38. Ben Clayton says:

    Stunning album, just stunning.

    Bowie, you magnificent bastard, you’ve only gone and blown the bloody doors off.

  39. Bowietie daddy says:

    I’m almost crying. The next day can go fuck itself. I wish I was 14 and this was the first Bowie album I hear. So I could go back and listen to the entire back catalog.
    Short review (like Spinal Tap: Shit sandwich)
    1. Outside.
    2. Lazarus.
    The only downside is the duration. Too short. Hope the Deluxe Extended Version/Extras/More shit is as awesome as this.

  40. gcreptile says:

    After the first one-and-a-half listen: Better than The Next Day, which I found easy to like, but hard to love. The new Tis A Pity shines here. It has one of the massive beats from Black Tie White Noise, like You’ve Been Around, I Feel Free or Lucy Can’t Dance.
    The parallels to BTWN aren’t coincidental, and I have previously declared that BTWN is essentially Bowie’s Fusion Jazz album.
    The Jazz influences add welcome twists to the songs. Quite a difference to the (musically) rather ordinary The Next Day.
    Bowie breaks out of the old man-rock’n’roll cage he had ensnared himself with the past 2 albums (partly also on Hours.. and Heathen) and steps into new territory. Not quite the Scott Walker-esque step some had wanted and/or predicted but more than could be expected for a 69-year-old man.
    Blackstar is the monument of the album, no doubt. And the other three already released songs seem to have a higher quality than the three new ones. But these are still not fillers, as they are tied together with the jazz rhythms and the wonderful saxophone. That makes the album a cohesive effort. I Can’t Give Everything Away even has a certain lightness there at the end, which, even on Bowie’s albums, is sometimes needed.
    If this album had been released as a whole without any knowledge of the single songs, it might have received top grades. But with three of the songs released months in advance it feels just a little like a singles collection than an album. This, and the missing greatness on the three final tracks keep me from giving the album the highest grades, but 4 stars out of 5 sound good. I would probably have given The Next Day 3,5 stars out of five.

  41. Galdo says:

    As ‘Reality’ had to stand in his own after the release of ‘The Next Day’, ‘The Next Day’ will have to stand in his own as we are, in fact, in the next next day. So there’s a new vision to ‘The Next Day’ building after ‘★’. I still like the former, but ‘★’ is amazing. It’s not that avantgarde (Leon, latest Scott Walker albums) but in comparison to other albuns of him, maybe it is. I think he is still influenced by Scott Walker, but this time I see echoes of The Drift and Bish Bosch here, especially in ‘Girl Loves Me’ with the use of another language. For me, ‘★’ has the perfect balance between avantgarde and pop music. While there’s still echoes to the past (A New Career In a New Town and other tracks from ‘Low’, Station to Station, Never Let Me Down) but this is really a new sound, a break with the past, a next day.

  42. Phil Obbard says:

    (As an aside, reading a few of these comments — and many Blackstar reviews on the net — you’d think The Next Day was the worst or at least most disappointing album Bowie ever made. Now, I disagree with that, but anyway we’ve already established democratically that Hours is the worst Bowie LP ever made. I now return you to your regularly scheduled Blackstar open thread).


    • MC says:

      Don’t forget, Tin Machine II ranked behind Hours (though I think that might have reflected a general reluctance to call TMII a Bowie album per se.) Oh, and Toy got zero votes, but there again, its unreleased status probably doomed it.

      As for Blackstar, I’ve only heard the title track, the revamped Tis A Pity, and Lazarus so far, but they sound frickin’ great. More details to come.

    • col1234 says:

      Next Day is now entering its eclipse cycle, likely due to emerge ca. 2020

    • MikeB says:

      If Next Day was a 40 minute album like Blackstar is, it’d be regarded as a much stronger work. The album got a little lost in its B-sides.

      • MikeB says:

        (Careful, everyone. Autocorrect thinks Bowie’s new album is ‘Backstair’)

      • King of Oblivion says:

        totally agree.

      • Vinnie says:

        As stated in another comment tree – the LP should be under 44 minutes. Sorry, I’m old fashioned. Bowie’s best albums follow this rule. Blackstar follows this rule. When an album is shorter, it’s easier to ignore flaws.

        The Next Day is too long, simply put. Everyone has opinions on which songs to cut, but cutting any songs would have made it stronger.

    • Mike says:

      For me TND was doomed to be a disappointment with it’s cover. The album wasn’t strong enough to call upon and then subvert Heroes and the minimalist white square with black font looks so inspirationless.

      • steven says:

        It’s amazing how divisive that was from the off. I loved it from the second I saw it, and thought the package looked amazing in the hand. With Blackstar I wasn’t really sold on the design til I had it in my hand.

        I think Barnbrook and Bowie are a pairing – NCH was wonderful, enough to prompt me into a rare vinyl purchase. Hours was an all time low, and with JB’s help it’s been strong since I think.

        That said, I love Heathen’s design most of all (it’s strong enough to suggest a whole new character, this warped travelling preacher, that just exist outside of the artwork). I’d love Bowie’s face front and centre on the next release.

      • Mike says:

        NHC’s alternate covers are stunning and I agree about Heathen. With TND I think it would have been more fitting to the content of the album if they had put the white MS Paint square over the cover of Lodger. Or maybe they should have used the TNDE cover for TND.

    • fluxkit says:

      I enjoy listening to ‘hours…” more than some other records, if I skip the singles, but only because it always feels undigested… which is partly due to the fact that the songs are mostly not so memorable… but it wouldn’t be bad if thought of as a collection of b-sides… along with the actual b-sides from the album on the bonus disc. “Toy,” on the other hand, is almost of no interest to me. I like “Your turn to Drive” alright, but that’s b-side material too, for me. I’m glad it was never properly released, personally.

  43. Jason Das says:

    The release of Blackstar is a great part of my very Bowie week!—saw Lazarus, seeing Holy Holy tonight, finally commenting on this site after reading since Ronno was still in the band.

    So: Blackstar. I like it! Bowie seems to have shed some inhibitions. It’s arty but not self-consciously so; funny but doesn’t nudge to make sure we get the jokes. Definitely not afraid to be “mature” or difficult, but also not trying too hard. Also not afraid to leave it at seven tracks that comfortably fit on a vinyl disc.

    There’s a sameness and shared strangeness to the tracks that very much works. Also, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is similar to what I thought about the Station to Station and Heroes LPs when I first heard them. (Though, unlike those, not sure we have any hit singles here). I think the “pure art” combined with playfulness of this LP bodes very well for Bowie’s future.

    The new band totally works, but they don’t feel all that new to me? In contrast to Bowie, they seem overly inhibited, trapped in the same zone as the last 15 years of Visconti-produced work. And for “jazz” musicians, they sure don’t swing much. Solid sax work from Donny McCaslin; occasionally equal to Lester Bowie and David Sanborn for a horn as an equal lead instrument. I wish he’d pushed harder. When Ben Monder’s guitar is noticeable, the biggest influence I detect is the Cure(!). It works—and I like the Cure—but it’s a very safe zone. Tim Lefebvre’s bass sounds similar to what Visconti would play; a credit to them both, I guess. Jason Lindner mostly disappears (a shame). The percussion is too fidgety and inorganic for my taste, not helped by so many loops and overly separated sound.

    Just like most of the other recentish Visconti-produced work, there’s not enough air in the mix, too many overdubs, too much warming reverb, those strings; everything feels the same color. It’s not a sound I dislike, but I liked it a lot more on Heathen when it was fresher. I know we’re being told this is a new era (again), but except for the length of the title track and the crassness of Tis a Pity, I suspect any of these songs would have blended right in on any album since Heathen.

    I feel a lot of hip-hop influence. Especially in the title track and Girl Loves Me.

    Lyrically, this album feels (for Bowie), sparse and simple. Which is not to say clear or obvious. There’s plenty to ponder and decode (or not). But not many words. Not many characters. Not many stories.

    A few song-by-song notes:

    Blackstar: Its scale is audacious in a fun way. The shift to the second section is the best trick he’s done in a long time. Ominous but not morbid or heavy-handed. I hear a Kid-Amnesiac-era Radiohead anytime Bowie’s not singing. The Kendrick Lamar influence shines brightly at times. Nice bloops at the end from (I assume) Linder; makes me wish the track was less dense and we heard more of that kind of thing.

    Tis a Pity: Opens like a pop song then smoothly goes sour. Can’t help thinking how much better Alomar/Murray/Davis would play this one, but also how much better it is than similar rhythm beds on Black Tie White Noise and Outside. Nice lead sax, wish it was mixed louder. I probably don’t like the lyrics?

    Lazarus: Lots of Cure guitar! The supporting sax riffs are painfully dull, the lead sax bits are nice. I keep wanting to sing along “twinkle twinkle, Uncle Floyd”. But I dig it. Might be my favorite vocal performance of the album? Love the video for this one.

    Sue: Better than the older version. A bit too proggy/plodding/fiddly in the rhythm section. Anyone who misses the Reeves Gabrels era should like this more than I do. It would be fun live, though.

    Girl Loves Me: Not sure how much depth there is to this one, but it’s good dark fun. The yelping vocal style reminds me of classic Peter Gabriel. Contender for the most hip-hop Bowie track ever?

    Dollar Days: Lovely song. Silly drums. Has a nice (unCurelike!) guitar solo.

    I Can’t Give Everything Away: Lovely again. Nice to hear the “New Career in a New Town” harmonica come back (imagine a live segue between the two songs! oh, we can dream…). Very nice sax solo; neither saccharine nor abrasive.

    • Jason says:

      Fame ’90 (with Queen Latifah) has truly been dethroned as the most hip-hop Bowie song.

      • Jason Das says:

        Oh wow, I didn’t know about/remember that! Not so bad actually, though i hope no one worked very hard on it. Now I have a favorite version of “Fame 90”, I guess!

    • Flossie_666 says:

      Jason D. I liked your comments very much. The Jazz is conservative, but when you see Bowie perform live his jazz musicians start swinging :-). I prefer a lot of his live recordings of his songs to the studio version. I cried when I heard the news that although David Bowie could make it to his birthday, he couldn’t make it to Dark Star album performance.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nice notes, Jason- thanks. Re. percussion: I disagree- I think it’s got real character and expressiveness. And unlike you, I prefer the overall sound of Blackstar to Heathen, which still feels too clean and polished for my liking. Now get back to all the older albums and treat us to some close musical readings…:)

  44. Aloysius says:

    It’s a fucking marvelous album! Thank you David and Happy Birthday.

  45. Luca Lanini says:

    I found it less avantgarde than expected, but that’s not a bad thing at all. Not the most “far-out” or “bonkers” Bowie album (the oscar still goes to Outside or Low) but as alien in the contemporary pop landscape as they were back in the days. A fresh, outstanding, streamlined, late bowie masterpiece (my 2 cents)…

  46. ecsongbysong says:

    I like “Girl Loves Me” even more after reading the “translation” of the Nadsat/Polari lyrics.

    • Anonymous says:

      Glad you enjoyed my feeble translation

      • ecsongbysong says:

        I did! I didn’t know, what with the FB group being closed and all, what the etiquette was on crediting you or sending people along. But “Someone”‘s translation proved very illuminating indeed! Thank you so much!

  47. Anonymous says:

    Has anybody checked the black vinyl-version?

    Mine doesn’t sound very good, with little distortions and far away from a clean sound, seems like a bad pressing. CD and even the 320kBit-download are sounding far better. I hope de clear vinyl will be better.


  48. Groofay says:

    If only this had been the 2013 album. This is the album to freak out about. I find it magnificent. Bowie and McCaslin’s group clearly had the time of their lives working together on this. Bowie’s band sound hasn’t been this fresh and alive since Station to Station, I think. I very much hope (but also for some reason doubt) that they’ll collaborate more. Results like this are to die for.

    Bowie is finally back to being unapologetically weird. I especially like “Girl Loves Me” and get an almost perverse glee from hearing Bowie yelp out “Where the fuck did Monday go-OO!” Overall it’s my standout among the tracks I hadn’t already heard. The seething rhythm and bleak instrumental texture is really well balanced.

    “Pity,” “Lazarus,” and “Sue” all shine in the context of the album (and the two reworkings). I was in some doubt about “Lazarus” as a single–but it fits into the album extremely well.

    I’ll have to listen to the two closers again. They were difficult for me to get into after the initial intensity and bizarreness. I recognized that they were really good tracks, and I did enjoy “Dollar Days,” but the first five tracks were what stayed in my memory.

    I get the feeling this is a Bowie album I’ll treasure alongside his ’70s work. It is that good.

  49. Angus McClud says:

    It is easily his best since The Next Day

  50. IDidTheIggy says:

    Love it. Got home late last night from work and immediately listened to it 4 times.

    And a big ol Happy Bowie Day to all of you.

  51. Michael says:

    Here I am, on holiday visiting my now ex-pat parents; the ones who first unknowingly introduced me to Bowie.

    I’ve managed to get one bar of wifi, deep into the Dark Continent, enough for my iTunes pre-order to download.

    It feels like a full circle, me talking to my Dad about Blackstar over a Julbrew this afternoon, where once I appropriated his 12″ copy of Ziggy to play on his old turntable, maybe 23 years ago.

    Then there’s my friend, Dan, my best man, sending me a photo of the CD halfway into the slot. The guy I don’t see that often but the one that I communicate with via Bowie; an exchange of guess the song this lyric’s from or just enthusing about an album, old or new.

    After just one full listen I can’t comment on the content of the album yet, but I know it’s another way Bowie has given me to communicate with my family and friends. And for that I cannot thank him enough.

  52. roobin101 says:

    I still need to listen to Dollar Days but so far:

    Blackstar – we know that’s great.
    Lazarus – is a bit of a slog.
    Sue and Tis – I prefer the original versions but they’re OK. The new Tis A Pity feels tamed.
    Girl Loves Me – is the pick of the new, new Bowie.

    • roobin101 says:

      Dollar Days – the only one that struck me as for the stage. It’s OK too. The second section is almost catchy. It might get me the second time around.

      I just can’t get over how depleted the two rerecorded tracks sound. This is the original Tis A Pity
      It’s awesome. Why remake it? Ah, the mysteries of life I suppose.

    • deleted says:

      Agree on tis a pity. I used to crank that ol demo until my ears were bleeding. This version seems to just hold back just that tiny bit that makes you go aughhhhhh yesssss

  53. If The Next Day got most of us ecstatic simply by virtue of being Bowie’s return, this is the kind of sound that I had dreamed for a Bowie comeback, and it’s almost unbelievable that he still shows the drive and amibtion to pull it off this late in the game. I want to listen a bit more to it before going into further detail, but so far I’m loving the album, and suspect it will earn a spot in my Bowie Top 10.

    One thing that’s gotten in my head, and it’s kind of unsettlig,is that, beyond Button Eyes, The Blackstar Priest, or whatever the characters he’s played in the videos are called, it feels to me that his current character is that of Old Man Bowie, embracing and exploiting his age in a way he never had before. He always seemed ageless, and a part of my brain refuses to acknowledge his current self as anything but another character of his repertoire, half-expecting him to come back to his ageless self in a couple of years, when the next project rolls around.

    • Vinnie says:

      I called him “Button Eyes” before reading anyone else’s remarks, and here I am, most of the way through reactions, and all of us are calling him “Button Eyes” –

      Ziggy Stardust
      Halloween Jack
      The Thin White Duke
      Button Eyes

      • Verdelay says:

        I like ‘Ol Button Eyes as someone here has called him. Brings to mind a blinded, bandaged Sinatra

      • Has it only been here? I’m not sure, but I believe I’ve seen the character referred as that elsewhere. If that’s the case, you might be the creator of a snippet of Bowie trivia, Vinnie. That’s pretty cool!

      • Vinnie says:

        @GUIDO-VISIóN — I take no credit. It’s a spontaneous communal nickname – long live Button Eyes Bowie!

        PS – I totally know what I’m doing for Halloween ’16

  54. Jason says:

    In the Lazarus video, when the striped Bowie was writting at the desk it reminded me of the Laughing Gnome. He sneaks in and out of the wardrobe to write things for Button Eyes.

  55. The saxophone playing is beautiful. The remakes of Sue and Tis A Pity pack more of a punch than the previous versions. Girl Loves Me is a thrilling mess, while Dollar Days and I Can’t Give Everything Away are proper pop songs you might even hear on the radio. It’s a cohesive album with no add-ons, much more accessible than reviewers were suggesting, and far better than we had a right to expect. Thanks, Dave.

  56. This is amazing stuff, “Blackstar” hyped me up and it has paid off. “Dollar Days” into “I Can’t Give Everything Away” is probably one of the most beautiful things Bowie has ever done. I very much love how “I Can’t Give Everything Away” is a mix of “Thursday’s Child” and “A New Career in A New Town”; imagine if all of ‘Hours…’ had this style of production! I have to say that the softer moments of the album have me recalling Talk Talk’s The Colour of Spring for some reason, which is a good thing IMO.

  57. David says:

    I drove all over San Diego to find a copy, before getting mine in Target of all pedestrian places. I’d have driven to Hell, or at least L.A., because sitting in my car, under the bridge at Chicano Park, I’m aghast,completely slack jawed and exhausted from the intensity of listening.
    I would say the album is too short, except its akin to listening to someone world wearily, weep between rage filled regrets and fractured flashbacks of nostalgia. Staggered.
    Who’s Birthday was this again?

  58. Gozomoto says:

    PAofD (and Chris) got a nice plug from Sasha Frere-Jones in the LA Times.

    • Gozomoto says:

      I realize I added nothing to the current conversation with that link, but that’s only because I’ve yet to listen to the album other than the two released tracks. Although the table is set — digital purchased and CD enroute — I am hesitant to sit down and gorge. That’s not because I am concerned about the quality, but because after a wealth of Bowie-related events in the past few months, this is the last thing I have queued up, my last morsel. And while I know it will sate me completely, there’s nothing quite like the anticipation.

    • Vinnie says:

      Hooray! PAOTD is the best. Thank you again, Chris.

  59. steven says:

    also if i ask nicely will momus release a cover album

  60. David says:

    I have to add-‘I can’t give everything’ is one of the most achingly gorgeous things he or anyone else has done.

  61. imathers says:

    I think I was thrown off by the people saying “it’s the most radical thing he’s ever done” (it’s… not), so I was a little nonplussed at first. I’m warming to it a lot, though. This and Heathen are the only latter-day records of his I really _love_, I think. Still sorting out thoughts (and writing about it soon). And the many different types of meaning he gives the title of the last track – masterful, and such a Bowie thing to do.

    • Vinnie says:

      I think we’re all still in shock from The Next Day‘s continuation of Heathen & Reality‘s sound. Before that? ‘hours…’ – let’s be real, we’re all shellshocked by how radical this is – Earthling came out 19 years ago, you know?

      “Bitch I’m Back Out My Coma” – a line Kanye once sang that feels relevant here

  62. Robert says:

    First of all, a much more conventional record (not meant as an insult) than many of the reviews would lead people to believe. This is more  pre-Tilt Scott Walker than post, which is fine. It’s a David Bowie record, which means many sounds that you wouldn’t immediately think could sit side-by-side comfortably actually do. Journalists have a problem with saxophones: too many wind instruments and whatever it is suddenly becomes ‘Trout Mask Replica.’ But this is hardly going to scare listeners out of the room. This is also a more cohesive record than TND, feeling all of a piece. ‘Whore’ is much improved here, though I prefer the original ‘Sue’: it sounds rushed through in its new version, losing some of its emotional heft. ‘Dollar Days’ could fit comfortably on almost any album he’s ever done. ‘Girl Loves Me’ is the theme to ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ with lyrics, while ‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’ is a lovely, simple valedictory that would serve that purpose well if he never released another song. Still unsure if it would have crept into my Top Ten in retrospect, but it would have come awfully close.

  63. Vinnie says:


    This is a bit TL;DR, but allow me to freak out about Blackstar a bit:

    1. All caps (above) were necessary

    2. Blackstar is amazing

    3. Blackstar is the Bowie album I wanted in 2013. I have ill will toward The Next Day.

    4. The new version of “‘Tis A Pity She Was A Whore” is my favorite thing. I listened to the song 10 times in a row. Added “umph” / added power.

    5. New version of “Sue” is just OK, but contextually, it fits the album well.

    6. I like to think, if I tried describing Blackstar in the context of Bowie, as, “The Man Who Sold The World, Outside, Buddha of Suburbia, thrown into a blender,” and I’m still short of ideas

    7. Favorite track: “Tis A Pity”

    8. Least Favorite Track: “Girl Loves Me”

    9. “I Can’t Give Everything Away” totally has Black Tie/White Noise vibes to me. ‘Satin cape’ smooth tune

    10, “The Thin White Duke”! – look at that Lazarus video

    11. I don’t know if there’s a greater ‘concept’ to the album, but I’m so glad the songs are songs. My only complaint about 1. Outside (outside, of, the length), are the segues and hamfisted storytelling. The songs on 1. Outside, (arguably, the last ‘weird’ Bowie album), are great songs, but with stray references to “Ramona” (Etc.) can be trying. These new Blackstar songs, whether or not ‘ol-Button Eyes Bowie is some new character or plot line, are great – stand alone without visuals or narrative.

    12. In my lifetime since I’ve identified as a Bowie fan (2003), he’s released Reality, The Next Day and now, Blackstar — this is the most excited I’ve been to be a Bowie fan. Listening to n e w David Bowie on blast/on loop feels bizarre. “Joe The Lion” is a regular “working in the studio” song/meditative tens of listens-in a row song; a fond memory is of me listening to “Ashes to Ashes” for 3 hours and driving around after I first had my own car and could drive (at 16). Those songs and have always been “in their place.” They’ve been decades old. I’m younger. But! With Blackstar I can listen and love something new and champion it and yell from the rooftops, “David Bowie!” (Or, in actuality, walk around the office and tell some people, “The New David Bowie album is very good.”)

    13. I nearly cried listening to it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    14. I’m terrible and often listen to leaks. I’ve started making a conscious effort to listen to albums from artists I admire (Actress, Thom Yorke) on the day of their release. I’m so happy I avoided the leaks.

    In closing, we did it! “Mission Accomplished”
    Love this community you’ve built, Chris. I look forward to everyone’s thoughts.

    David Bowie, if you’re reading/out there, thank you.

    • I wouldn’t go as far as to say I have ill will towards TND, but this album definitely blew it out of the water. Like you, this is the kind of comeback album I expected, and am truly delighted!

      I’m not ready to rate the songs just yet, other than saying that Blackstar is probably my favorite so far, but I’ve been enjoying the full album through and through all day.

      I know how you feel. I became a Bowie fan since around 2001, and this is definitely the most exciting new music he has released since then (though I think Heathen is also top notch)

  64. scarymonster says:

    Although disappointed at the paucity of new tracks (I do wish he’d at least held back Lazarus for a few weeks) I’m relieved to find those new tracks are worthy of the pre-release hype.

    And what a special surprise to find the gorgeous pop of ‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’ after all the avant garde portents – complete with echoes of A New Career and Soul Love. Now there’s a track that could well have made my Top 30, had it been released even a week before polling closed!

    Happy Blackstar Day Everyone!

  65. Grasshopper says:

    I first got into Bowie around ’95 starting with Outside and then worked backwards through his back catalogue in a hotch potch sorta way and loved all of the great works he’d made in the 70’s and although I liked hearing the new albums it always seemed like his truly trailblazing works of genius were far behind him, not so with Blackstar. This is it! This is absolutely on it. This will stand shoulder to shoulder with his finest masterpieces. It’s an exciting time to be a Bowie fan, to be present to witness this kind of thing in the present and not discover it as a relic from the past. Stand out track is Girl Loves Me.

  66. matthew says:

    On first listening Lazarus stands out and I think the video is a prelude to Blackstar or maybe its where Buttoneyes is all along and the events of Blackstar are just in his head. Never thought I’d see Bowie bring out one of his mime characters again and I love the three note runs throughout the song, reminds me of something from either low or heroes. More thoughts after a few more listens.

  67. Girl loves me is my current favourite, followed by Lazarus. Very happy – it’s Bowie through the whole album and everything screams Bowie. Love it!

  68. s.t. says:

    Loving it all so far. I will comment more as I soak it up.

    Just noting some possible musical references.

    “I Can’t Give It Away” sounds like “Black Sea & White Cake,” like if 93-era Nile Rodgers did a version of “The Fawn.”

    The guitar and bass of “Lazarus” bring to mind “Insight” by Division and “Heart of Darkness” by Pere Ubu. As for the song itself, it sounds like it was written for Iggy Pop, and could easily be a reggae tune. Also, is the reference to Freebird intentional? Not just the lyrics, the vocal melody is pretty close too.

    Generally, the production sounds great. Am I wrong in thinking that “Wixiw” by Liars was an inspiration?

    Not sure how I feel about the nadsat rant. The song is great, and I appreciate the batty humor, but at the moment it feels a bit too easy of a reference without much of a point. Time and further digestion will tell..

  69. dm says:

    I adore it. Churlishly I want one more showstopper on there, one more epic. But I like every track a great deal.

    Best singalongs:

    Tis a Pity She Was a Whore: Such perverse lyrics and such a fun cracked falsetto bit.

    Girl Loves ME: Everybody now! “I’m sittin’ in the chestnut tree/Who the fuck’s gon’ mess with me?!”

  70. Nobody seems to have mentioned that the start of Dollar Days is the end of Space Oddity. So I just did that.

  71. Paul O says:

    I was asked to create a playlist as a wedding present for two friends who are getting married tomorrow afternoon. Mostly uptempo tracks to be played during the reception and dancing is encouraged. Each of them requested Bowie to be included in the ca. six hours of music.

    My selections: “Young Americans” (original LP version) and (as of five minutes ago) “I Can’t Give Everything Away.”

    (It is my favorite track on ✮ after initial listens; time will tell. I like it all, including the new versions of “Sue” and “Tis Pity,” although I prefer the earlier versions. First album since Scary… that I have *absolutely* no reservations about.)

  72. Wayne Berry says:

    My copy won’t arrive in the mail for a few days or two so i’m glad Bowie’s Vevo put all the audio out right away. Not sure i can pick faves yet, but i will note that a christian/anti-illuminati sort already calls “Blackstar” a Satanic ritual and dissects it more minutely than even a Bowie fan would. Look it up on youTube!

  73. comicalArchitect says:

    Mmm, new version of Sue is a definite improvement. Could never get into the original at all; this one is great.

  74. Anonymous says:

    FINALLY, a Bowie album that actually IS the best thing he’s done since Scary Monsters!

  75. BenJ says:

    Semi-random thought. Donny McCaslin playing Bowie’s songs sometimes reminds me of Andy Mackay. “Lazarus” especially sounds like a team-up.

    Guiliana deserves a lot of credit too. He’s called on to provide a lot of odd time signatures. Could almost call this Bowie’s math rock album.

    I still love TND, but it does sound like he needed to take the next step. Glad this was it.

    • RLM says:

      Entirely agree with the Andy McKay vibe, had the same thought myself. Some of the drifty bits in If There Is Sonething came to mind at certain points (during Lazarus, and perhaps the last two songs? I’ve only listened once).

      Oh dear. I’ve just remembered that Bowie once covered If There Is Something. Now I’ll have to make myself forget all over again.

  76. Bowietie daddy says:

    By the way, David looks now like an old English actor. He has gravitas (and a fun side too, a bit of Buster K.).
    Reading the comments, I think we need another Poll.
    Chris, I’m only joking, don’t get me wrong.

  77. roobin101 says:

    I know what’s thrown me. I’ve had another listen. All the hype about the album being ‘odd’ is wrong. Put Blackstar next to the original versions of Sue and Tis A Pity… and I expected more in that vein. It’s not odd, it’s mostly very smooth. Blackstar (the song) is as far out as it gets. I Can’t Give Eveything Away could be a BTWN song.

    It’s still getting better and it’s pretty good now. The best album since 1.Outside… remember that! 1.Outside, not Scary Monsters ;-).

    • s.t. says:

      The remakes of Sue and Pity are indeed more restrained, but they’re still quite odd. Ditto for Girl Loves Me. Lazarus and the final two tracks are fairly conventional, but the majority of the LP is on the odd side, especially compared to most of TND.
      But yes, it is also very smooth, cohesive, melodic, and accessible.

  78. Verdelay says:

    Gratuitous predictions department:

    1. ‘Dollar Days’ will be released as the third and final single from the album.

    2. It too will feature a video featuring ‘Old Button Eyes’.

    3. It will also feature the woman who features in both the Blackstar and Lazarus videos (as the ‘cash girl’?), and possibly also some of the characters/signifiers we’ve seen so far (the juddering dancers, mouse-tail woman etc.,).

    4. I expect the video will be set in the enduring present, before Old Button Eyes was blinded (“If I never see…”), effecting a reverse-narrative across the 3 videos. The shuffling papers at the start of the song will be incorporated into the film, perhaps as Old Button Eyes’ own writings (c.f. the ‘Kether-to-Malkuth’/bluebird writer in Lazarus).

    5. I also expect to see shelf upon shelf of discount jewelled skulls as the sacred is profaned, on sale on one of those ‘dollar days’.

    6. This will be the last single that Bowie releases.

    7. This will be the last album that Bowie releases, his final statement.

  79. SoooTrypticon says:

    A few initial reactions, sharing some opinions already stated…

    It’s not surprising how short critics’ memories are… But still. All the reviews leading up cited how strange this album was… And yet to me almost every song is familiar Bowie. This isn’t bad. However it took some getting used to through the first listen.

    Some thoughts on the new tracks.

    “Black Tie White Noise” comes to mind immediately once “Pity” kicks into gear. (As do some of the more manic deliveries on “Lodger.”) One of my favorites on the album- I do miss the slow coming together of all the elements as heard in the demo.

    The remake of “Sue” is an “Earthling” track. Or maybe something that evolved out of the summer tour. I’ll have to give this one some time.

    “Hours” rears its synth heavy head on “Girl,” with strong echoes of “No One Calls.” I love “Calls” and thought it should have been on the album. So there we have it.

    “Dollar Days” has gotten many comparisons to “Young Americans” era Bowie, but I’d lay it at the feet of “Hermione.” It’s lovely, and sad.

    “Everything” might as well be an “Hours” track. Some gorgeous lyrics. Perhaps the next single? Chris will be able to help, but I think Bowie’s referencing an old standard in the opening lyric. I thought it might be “Strangers In The Night,” but that’s not quite it.

    Ultimately I’m a bit surprised at how much this album owes to “Hours” and “Black Tie.”

    In some ways, this album is Bowie addressing criticisms of both “Hours” and “Black Tie.” He’s cut the length down, slotted in weird b-sides over “album tracks,” and made the syrupy ballads more propulsive.

    One of the reviews, (LA Times), claims there are five other songs from these sessions. It will be interesting to see what form those take. Did he use the wacky b-sides, and shelve the more “commercial” tracks? Is there another “Lucy Can’t Dance” waiting in the wings?

    Adding “Blackstar” to the mix does change the recipe somewhat. That track is truly phenomenal, video or not. It’s a Rosetta Stone for Bowie fans- or perhaps a crucible… Offering bits and pieces of apocrypha songs, stitched together into something new and wonderful.

    Lazarus is a “grow to like it” track for me. It sits well among its album siblings. Comparisons to “Plan” aren’t far off- but the delivery is chilling.

    I’d like to thank Bowie and Tony at this point for letting most of the songs have logical beginnings and endings- rather than radio friendly fades. I only wish that last two songs weren’t blended. The blend doesn’t seem to serve either song- and sounds more like iTunes just faded them into each other. An odd choice.

    For me, the only misstep is “Sue.” Perhaps this version will grow on me- but one of my favorite aspects of the first version were the stretched syllables blending in with the orchestra. Here, in the new version, there’s less time for that. It’s a different animal.

    Is this a great album? Maybe.

    Is it a surprising departure, or truly bonkers? Not really. Well, maybe it’s bonkers for people who didn’t buy the expanded versions of “Hours” or “Black Tie.”

    I still really like “The Next Day” in all its many forms and colors- but the notion that it looks back, and this album looks forward is a bit misleading. Bowie’s just pulling from his less loved albums this time.

    “Just” is a bit harsh, as the album is lovely. Beautifully played, sung, and produced. Some fantastic, sad, and creepy lyrics. It’s confident, and has every right to be.

    It’s also fantastic driving music through Oregon pine forests… And that makes me wonder if we’ll see a future meeting between Blackstars, and Twin Peaks.

    • fantailfan says:

      I agree. I’m not a heavy Bowie listener — they were the part of the background my my seventies, but I bought all my Bowie since 2003 — but I thought of Hours and Black Time, too, and I haven’t listened to them that much.

      So, my review after one day is the Twitterish “Better any Bowie than no Bowie.” I found “Blackstar” too long. Now it sounds like “Sweet Thing” / “Candidate” / “Sweet Thing (Reprise)” (long first half, shorter middle section, short coda). I don’t get “I Can’t Give Everything Away.”

      Will listen to on this week’s commutes to see if it digs deeper.

  80. Mike says:

    Day 2. I’d love to hear a revised Alabama Song in the bonus tracks of a potential deluxe edition. The drums on the album owe something to Dennis Davis’ perfomance on the single.

  81. Anonymous says:

    You guys should check out Jimmy Fallon’s little shout-out to the Lazarus video – unfortunately he had the WORST audience ever for it, but I was still glad to see the best LP of 2016 get a little media love 🙂

  82. bennyboyblue says:

    Possible significance of having 7 tracks?

  83. Matthew says:

    The last time I bought a Bowie album as soon as it was released was Tonight. By the time The Next Day came along I dithered so long that Extra came out! As previously mentioned I think Lazarus is a stand out track but just not enough for me with the rest although I do like the two reworked tracks over the originals. So I’ll probably end up with whatever new version of Blackstar is released in time for Christmas 2016.
    As a note I think one of my issues with some later Bowie is that although I enjoy some jazz ( try Medicine Chest Dub by Prince Fatty meets Nostalgia 77) I just don’t like drum and base or hip hop in general.

  84. RLM says:

    Second listen (sipping not gulping here). I understand that fandom will instinctively compare and contrast a piece to the artist’s existing body of work, and look for parallels – but to me this sounds incredibly fresh sonically and free from debts to the past. The harmonica just sounds like Bowie playing harmonica on a song that suits it, rather than a quote as such.

    Funny how each new Bowie album seems to recontextualise the recent past. Heathen, Reality and TND now seem like a trilogy base around being shot of Reeves Gabrels, reuniting with Visconti and falling in love with his touring band again, with TND unfinished business from that era that he had to get out of his system.

    It really is very exciting, there aren’t any duds and the sequencing is perfect. The closing pair are is wonderful way to see out the album, and possibly a career – although the thought of more music from this band is incredibly tantalising.

    Only other observation is that if I can hear the Boards of Canada influence that was talked about pre-release, it is in the sometimes awkward skittishness of the drums, which is somewhat reminiscent of the beats on Music Has A Right To Children.

  85. Jubany says:

    This album is so good that even turns “Video Crime” into something good.

  86. Zeusifer says:

    It seems “Girl Loves Me” is fairly divisive. People either think it’s one of the best tracks on the album, or don’t care for it. I fall into the former category.

    Visconti said something about how Bowie had been listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar while making this album, which got me excited, because I think some of the best hip hop albums coming out now are really the spiritual successors to our beloved 70s concept rock albums, and Kendrick Lamar is exhibit A.

    Of all the new Blackstar tracks, Girl Loves Me is the one that seems like it could sit comfortably on an album like To Pimp a Butterfly.

  87. Starman says:

    Just wanted to note because I haven’t seen this mentioned elsewhere, I’m pretty sure the star fragments underneath the Blackstar on the cover are spelling “Bowie”.

  88. jdarkp says:

    i didn’t see any follow-up on the Holy Holy show in NYC on Friday, but I went and it was amazing. Woody and Tony et al are absolutely fantastic, playing Man Who Sold the World in its entirety, with a few Bowie classics afterward to round out the show. This was really incredible, the best concert we’ve seen in years…the power of these songs just knocked us off our feet (well, no really, we were dancing pretty much the whole time!). If there’s any way you can catch this tour, DO IT. Simply an incredible performance by veterans who know what they’re doing and then some!

    • Jason Das says:

      I was there, too! Enjoyed it very much. You could tell Tony was glad to be up there, and Woody was thrilled and gratified. (Even if the show had been bad, I’d have been happy for a chance to throw some money and applause Woody’s way.)

      I thought they were especially great on the more music-hall numbers. “Time” was incredible. “Savior Machine” was an unexpected highlight. I doubt I’ll ever see a better performance of either song. The medley of “Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud/All the Young Dudes/Oh! You Pretty Things” was superb—I think it helped that they were imitating a live arrangement rather than trying to duplicate a studio record.

      Singing “Happy Birthday” to David on Tony’s cell phone was fun. As was cheering when he said David wants to know what we think of Blackstar.

      Not everything worked equally well. Some songs suited Glenn Gregory’s voice better than others, and sometimes trying to copy the record seemed stifling. And I was a bit disappointed in the guitar players—accurate but tame, relative to Ronson’s approach. Still, a great night!!

      • Jason Das says:

        Oh, also: It was almost worth the price of admission simply to hear Woody turn the beat around between “Five Years” and “Soul Love”, just like on the LP. Such a moment.

      • Michael says:

        Great cell phone (down below) anecdote, would have loved to have seen that!

  89. Jason Das says:

    After not listening for a day, the winning catchiest earworm is “where the fuck did Monday go?”. Indeed.

  90. ragingglory says:

    Inspired by Kendrick Lamar? Avant garde Jazz album? Title track inspired by ISIS? All of this is nonsense. What we have here though is a very good and interesting album. The title track is the weakest thing on here, a bunch of mumbling about the villa or ormen whatever the hell that is, its just wierd for the sake of wierd. Bowie is probably laughing his ass of at those trying to uncover some meaning to what is really just a bunch of gibberish, like Stairway to Heaven. But the remakes of Sue and Tis a pity she was a whore are worth the price of admission alone. And the closer I can’t give everything a way is a keeper as well, and has the telling lines about saying no but meaning yes, basically Bowie acknowledging that there is no deeper meaning here other than what people afix to it.

  91. President Joan says:

    What a lovely album! I find it a true Bowie album – both accessible and enigmatic. I’ve just listened to it just a few times but I love it, already! Probably among the top 11 or so of albums … Best since Outside – yes. Best since Scary – maybe. And I like the brevity. TND got a bit lost in its length, while Blackstar is just perfect in length with seven superb songs. (Not sure which ones I like the most, probably Blackstar and Lazarus, but that may change.)

    Oh, and I love being a Bowie fan in this crowd. All the sharp and interesting comments above; thanks, everyone! Thanks, Chris, for the blog and thank you very much, David, for a fantastic birthday present! 🙂

  92. James LaBove says:

    Blackstar has been a part of me and my boyfriend’s music world for several days now; we’ve played the album all the way through many, many times. We’ve also roped in hapless friends from our circles to give it a listen; impressions have varied wildly, ranging from unreserved enjoyment, to polite appreciation, to dancing herky-jerky while singing “I’m a blackstar!” in a Kermit voice. It’s been fun!

    (I’m trying very hard not to be that guy who pushes his music passions on people, but I’m really, really excited about this album, and I’m lucky enough to know people who’ll indulge me a bit when I get worked up about something like this.)

    It’s also made me (once again, for the millionth time) so very grateful to have my guy in my life. He was a casual Bowie appreciator before we started dating, and as I played him more he began to catch the bug (he’s more a musical soundtrack man usually). I was worried that, as above, I was forcing my interests on him, but he’s assured me that this is not the case. He has the back catalog absorbed, in some ways moreso than myself, and being able to sit down with him and geek out to a new Bowie album for the first time was truly special. I know I’m blabbing a lot about him right now, but his presence was a very big factor in my enjoyment of the album.

    Anyway, my thoughts on Blackstar follow. I’ve been playing with this comment as a text file for a few days now, and in some cases the points I’m making have already been made upthread and elsewhere; usually better than what I’m attempting. My apologies in advance if I’m parroting anything any commenters have previously said.


    My reaction to the album

    Blackstar is wonderful. Astoundingly good. I had high hopes for the album, and I feel they were exceeded on almost every level. I know it’s not particularly bold or unique to write something like this, but I’m just glad to have an album from one of my musical heroes that can still take me there. Most of my other favorites have declined in recent years, imo. Depeche Mode’s last album was boring; Morrissey’s was shockingly bad. New Order’s album had a handful of great songs but I’d shy from calling it a classic. I have no problem calling a turd a turd, but I’m relieved I don’t have to do that in this case.

    It’s almost certainly destined to go down as one of my all-time favorites from him, although I know it’ll take years for the dust to settle and for that claim to mean anything, just as it will for the rest of his fans, music critics, etc. I know that no matter how hard I try, the excitement for the new is going to color my thoughts on the matter, but I earnestly believe that this is a late-career masterpiece and I think that will be proven in time.

    My one complaint about the album is that I wish it were longer. The sound and ideas are so marvelous that I can’t help being saddened that we don’t have a few more tracks to enjoy, but that’s probably part of the album’s appeal, too. I’m hoping like mad for another “TND Extras” situation with a ton of bonus tracks eventually. Take my money, Bowie! My dream would be a second disc of instrumentals/jams with the same band and sound, some even weirder stuff that had the space it needed to stretch out. Yes, a little like Low. Although I hear very little of Low, or any of the Eno Trilogy, in Blackstar. Which brings us to…


    Blackstar’s sound and antecedents

    As others have noted, Blackstar’s closest siblings within Bowie’s body of work seems to be his 90’s albums. It has some of the groove and playfulness of BTWN; the atmosphere and quirkiness of BoS; the propulsion of Earthling; the harshness of Outside; the moribundity of Hours. Agreed that the guitar sound on this album is evocative of Gabrels.

    I definitely recognize this affinity more than I do any resemblance to Station to Station. It’s an understandable comparison- a relatively small collection of great songs, starting with a monster of an opening title track, all recorded with a smoking-hot backing band. But I think that’s where the similarities end. The style of music on Blackstar has very little in common with STS, and I see nothing of the Thin White Duke in the singer of these songs. The narrator of STS used the songs to conjure emotions and passions that were impossible for he himself to experience first-hand, for obscure reasons (Fame? Self-help? A cynical thought experiment?). The narrator of Blackstar feels too much, and seems to be in the process of limiting/managing how these emotions affect him.

    All that said (and despite the fact that the album definitely does not feel like a total deviation from what a Bowie album is), its sound is wonderfully fresh. Bringing in the new musicians paid off in spades. There’s still signifiers to Bowie’s past sounds, but the song arrangements aren’t retreads. In some ways, the jazz-influenced approach is a new musical shift that (once again) brings to mind Bowie ping-ponging between different genres in the 90’s. We haven’t experienced a style quite like this before with his albums, and it wouldn’t have been possible without new musicians.

    Like many fans, I have a lot of love for Bowie’s latter-day collaborators. One of the things I love about Heathen/Reality/TND is that they feel like a team effort between people who know and like each other very much. The flip-side to that is of course that it’s too easy for inertia to develop, and I think that was very much happening by the time of The Next Day. It was absolutely the right choice to start fresh.


    Relationship to The Next Day

    I’ve mentioned it on this site before, but as excitement began to build for Blackstar I found myself agreeing with the idea that The Next Day was embraced more for Bowie’s return than for the album necessarily being great. I take no joy in saying this; the songs surely mean a great deal to Bowie if he decided to break his silence with their release. But it just sounds too much like he was trying to vie for indie rock radios playlists, blog mentions, etc. It sounded like he was still fighting to be a pop artist rather than subverting the idea of what it means to be a pop artist. The production sunk the songs at times, and there seemed to be very little at stake- or maybe too much?

    Another advantage Blackstar has over TND is that it sounds like a singular artistic statement. You can absolutely tell that the songs were arranged/produced with the same musicians, and in a unified style. Bowie’s previous post-2000 albums were grab bags of ideas and styles, varying heavily between songs. This worked on Heathen, imo, because there was enough of a common color palette to make the songs feel like siblings to each other, but by the time of TND it was starting to be slightly pro-forma. It was like the idea of Bowie album going forward was forever destined to be a shuffling of past ideas with a glossy new presentation.

    All that said… after having Blackstar for a few days, I went back and listened to TND all the way through (which I haven’t done in quite some time). I was pleasantly surprised with how much I actually liked most of the songs. There’s a few that still just don’t do anything for me, but there are just as many that I love (Boss of Me in particular has become a favorite). So, who knows?

    Chris has made this point on the blog before, but this is part of what it means to be a Bowie fan: The old character has to die, or be put in stasis, to make room for the new one; each new album is his best since ________, or nowhere near as good as ________, etc. It’s always a return to form. I’d argue that that’s partially what Blackstar is about (especially I Can’t Give Everything Away).


    Bowie’s age:

    One of the things I love most about Blackstar is that Bowie absolutely, unapologetically sounds his age. He uses it as a prop (to great effect) throughout the album. Even the hip hop influences sound like Bowie bringing new ideas into his world rather than trying to step into different ones. He couldn’t have made this album when he was younger.

    I totally respect anyone who has a different reaction to the album than me, and that includes hating it. Different strokes, etc. And I’ve read some negative reactions that I can totally understand and agree with. But something that I haven’t cared for (and it seems to happen with frequency on Bowie fansites at that) is people ridiculing Bowie for his age w/r/t the project. Making disparaging comments about his appearance. A lot of this was aimed at the Lazarus video, with the STS-style outfit Bowie wears. Some folks seems to think it was sort of pathetic, but if you didn’t think that was the whole idea that Bowie was playing with in the video… well, I don’t know what to tell you.

    It’s like, what do you expect him to do? Not age? Would you rather he just retire and not provide us with any new music? I know that rock ‘n roll is “supposed” to be a young person’s thing, but I think the confidence and poise that it takes to make an album like this really makes a case for that being bullshit. I know part of that is just the fact that a lot of legacy rock musicians sink into contemporary irrelevance with their newer releases, but I don’t think that’s a concern here.


    Parting song thoughts:

    I’ve already made this thing way too long, so very briefly to end things:

    Tis a Pity She Was A Whore may be my favorite song on the album after the title track. It makes me well up a bit, not because of the sentiment of the song but just from how vital and powerful Bowie and the band sound. It’s the track I’d play for a non-fan who’s on the fence about giving the whole album a listen.

    While I loved the originals, I think both Tis a Pity and Sue are improved in their new forms. There’s a frailty to Bowie’s voice in the former that I’m missing, but that’s the only exception. Still, I’m glad we have both versions.

    Lazarus and Girl Loves Me both took me time to warm up to, but I love them both now. Still, if I had to rank the songs, I’d probably put Girl Loves Me at last. No particular reason, just how things fall into place.

    Dollar Days is lovely, and I’m learning to play it on guitar. So there.

    I Can’t Give Everything Away is a kaleidoscope of past ideas; the only song on the album that’s blatantly self-referential (and the most autobiographical). After everything I said about being relieved for “Bowie the Self-Curator” taking a break, it works really well on this song. I love the image of a weary Bowie being resurrected yet again to compete with his imitators and progeny (“the pulse returns, the prodigal sons…”). This album could very easily have been titled Lazarus.


    Whew! Okay, no more. If you somehow managed to make it this far, I salute you. Thanks for reading!

    • col1234 says:

      thanks, James. And all best to your boyfriend, who sounds like a mensch

      • djmac says:

        “It’s like, what do you expect him to do? Not age? Would you rather he just retire and not provide us with any new music?”

        or worse yet act like he hasn’t aged and is still trying to be Ziggy Stardust. Nope, he has done all of this so well- even after the fallow periods he’s bounced back with such conviction. there are just a few who can claim to have such a long and interesting body of work.

  93. wytchcroft says:

    i’m a bit thrown by how weird the album isn’t – but it is a fine piece IMO.
    the only drag for me is ‘Lazarus’ being way too close to Slip Away. But the others tracks are very strong.

    certainly it’s an inventive and playful collection (certainly addictive!) and i prefer the new versions of Pity and Sue by a wide margin.

    never a huge fan of self-referential musical moments but i can live with them.

  94. ramonaAstone says:

    We must also remember to judge this in the context of its genre – experimental (ish?) jazz. I’m a sucker for hooks, and after listening to “Blackstar” and “Lazarus” weeks ago, I would catch myself going “i’m a black star…i’m a black star” and all its variations but nothing from “Lazarus” would pop into my head in that way, making me initially think “Lazarus” was a bit of a dud – but I LOVE Lazarus; and this extended version is without a doubt my favorite song from the album.
    Like the b-side songs, I think the best way to enjoy it is to have it all on in the background and let it just roll through you. Don’t expect to sing along or anything, it’s jazz – it’s more ethereal than anything else and like every genre Bowie’s adopted, he perfects it. It’s just what he does and what we’ve grown to expect him to do.

    Three thoughts that I’d be interested in talking about –
    Had he placed “a small plot of land” in it, I wouldn’t have noticed anything different, I think. What do you think?

    Also, “I can’t give everything away” fills the role of “Strangers when we meet” by having that breath of air and ray of light after such a dark and thick string of music.

    In these two ways, I feel like really “Blackstar” is really the “Leon” bootleg, and takes a lot from Outside in themes and imagery, save for the catchy rock music. Really, all the albums between Outside and Blackstar had Bowie playing the role of “Bowie”, whereas Outside has Leon and Blackstar has Lazarus (Button-Eyes is cute and all but I just can’t help but love the Lazarus imagery in the context of the album – zombies, religion, death, subverting the sacred and all that).

    However, I have to note that I did not cry or freak out or have revelations when I heard it. The “Sue” single, with the orchestra, just feels superior to me. I would call the album version a jungle remix.

    Finally, Bowie, I believe, gave TOO much away releasing “Lazarus” before the album. I would have LOVED to have first heard it on the album. While every song is good, it is like holding candles to pillars of fire – Lazarus is just so much better than the three new songs!

  95. Bruised Passivity says:

    Okay, my heart is in my throat. David Bowie Official just tweeted about 15 mins ago (10 pm PST, on Jan 10, 2016) that “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle…” I hope that this is a publicity stunt for the release of the Lazarus video and has nothing to to with the actual David Jones having died! WTF? This seems odd since The New York Times just anounced that db is to be honored at Caregie Hall on March 31.

    I realise this has nothing to do with the Blackstar conversation stream at the moment, but this is the first place I thought to share my feelings. I am hoping there will be an answer to all this tomorrow.

  96. Ididtheiggy says:

    I love all of you. Giant comment board hug.

  97. scarymonster says:

    RIP David. Heart broken xx

  98. Bruised Passivity says:

    This is looking real now, it’s on his official website and Duncan tweeted that is was true. Tears are coming, sobs are building. 😦 Hugs for all my Bowiephiles.

  99. Holy fuck. I just watched the Lazarus video in response to this news, and my hands are shaking. Only Bowie would turn his own imminent death into a piece of performance art.

  100. gcreptile says:

    I am shattered. I am trying to come to terms with it… It could be he tried to tell us…
    I can’t give everything away…

  101. Remco says:

    Just stunned right now, but man did he go out with a bang.

  102. jopasso says:

    He’s inmortal

  103. MajorTomCat says:

    He decided how it all must end.
    Not even death could possibly push ahead of DB.

  104. Matthew says:

    Just woke up here in England, gotta try to drive to work through the tears. Love on ya David

  105. ofer says:

    This is terrible, terrible, devastating news – but boy, did he end on a high note.

  106. Sky-Posessing Spider says:

    David has been my absolute hero since 1973 when I was just 12 years old. I’ve loved him all my life. This is just devastating news.

    • Bruised Passivity says:

      I wish I could find the words of comfort to write. My heart is there for yours.

      • Sky-Posessing Spider says:

        Thanks BP, I appreciate that, and my heart also goes out to you and all the similarly devastated fans on here who loved the great man and his beautiful music, films and art so much.

  107. Hayeon Yu says:

    Leaving a stellar album before passing away only two days later. Ain’t that just like Bowie..My god I cannot listen to this album without breaking into tears. So sad.

    He was my favorite artist ever, my biggest hero. Rest in peace.

  108. President Joan says:

    Oh my, he was saying goodbye.

    He´s a blackstar now.

  109. 老布 says:

    The main thing today is to know that true legends can’t die, Bowie, one of the very best EVER to do it is going to talked about as long as we all live…50 years from now some kid in a ‘classic rock class’ will be writing about him.

    Bowie’s extraordinary proficiency in all areas of entertainment have changed my life forever and ever.

  110. Trish says:

    Stunned to hear the devastating news! His music has got me through so many hard times from when I was 9 and my older brother brought home the then just released Hunky Dory. An astonishing legacy… Can’t find the words to express my feelings..

  111. Tony says:

    I can’t believe it. Part of me hopes that this is a hoax to allow Bowie to gracefully step away from the limelight, but I’m grasping at straws.

    How can a world exist where no new Bowie music will ever be present?

    This makes Blackstar Bowie’s best record. By a long way.

  112. Verdelay says:

    “Something happened on the day that he died…”


  113. cdave2 says:

    I just read the news a few minutes ago and am in shock. Little to add here except that I join you all.

    I was looking forward to savoring Blackstar, but that will be for another time. Right now, I’m returning to my most-cherished album, the one I always found strange comfort in, and it’s “Win” that’s playing in my head. “It ain’t over….”

  114. Shane75 says:


    To all my fellow Bowiefans: wishing you peace as we all grieve this tragic loss.

    “If I never see the English evergreens
    I’m running to
    It’s nothing to me”

  115. shaunpimlott says:

    So sad. So the last Bowie album is his farewell. I’m not going to work today. You’ll find me by the record player.

  116. Anonymous says:

    Wow. I am just floored by this news. RIP David. Thanks for everything

  117. GG55 says:

    Still trying to come grips with this.

  118. pramsey342 says:

    “Something happened on the day he died/spirit rose a metre and stepped aside/someone took his place and bravely cried/ ‘I’m a blackstar I’m a blackstar”

    RIP to you and thank you for more than I can ever express.

  119. ERayLankester says:

    Hollow. But even at the last, he tricked us all. RIP Major Tom

  120. Brian says:

    I remember stumbling across this blog years ago while trying to research information on the “Karma Man” song. David Bowie’s music played such an important role in my teenage years and continues to inspire me as an adult. I know how all of his fans are feeling right now, but I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to col1234 for writing this blog over the years. You work has not only helped me understand my hero better and to dig deeper into his works, but also to revisit and reevaluate how I felt about many of his songs. Thanks to your blog, his music has remained a constant feature in my life over these last few years and for that you have my eternal gratitude. I can think of no finer tribute to his works than what you’ve put together here for all us. Thank you.

    • Kento says:

      I also would like to express appreciation for this blog. It has very much been an important part of my life for the past few years. The quality of David Bowie’s music, the quality of the writing on this blog, and the quality of the community that comments have all been a major source of solace.

  121. hushbrother says:

    Just stunned here … had anyone heard the slightest peep that he was sick?

    • Bruised Passivity says:

      Not a word, but Lazarus seems more than just a metaphor now. I wonder if the musicians he worked with signed non disclosure agreements about his health? We all know Tony Visconti can keep a secret.

      • Shane75 says:

        Ivo van Hove announced this morning here on Dutch radio that DB told him right away that he was sick, when they started working on Lazarus about 15 months ago. Also, DB asked him to keep it quiet and that DB was able to take the stage after Lazarus’ premiere but was instantly tired afterwards.

      • Vinnie says:

        Saturday night, I was at an art opening, and a friend (who’ll remain nameless) was freaking out – he knows I’m a fan of Bowie. Blackstar was only a day old at this point: “Mark (Guiliana) and I released an album last year – and the whole time he was secretly working with Bowie, and didn’t say a thing.

        I think the respect for Bowie enables anyone to keep a secret.

  122. steven says:

    What a way to say goodbye.

    Here’s to you pal.

  123. princeasbo says:

    I am pleased not to have known until this morning, no crass ‘death watch’ to distract from the enjoyment of ★. DB’s health was none of my business and I massively respect and admire the way he and his family and friends handled the situation.

  124. Peter says:

    I’m shocked by this news. I have lost my lifetime hero. Thank you David for all the beautiful music you gave us. I cannot imagine a world without the excitement of a new Bowie record.

    My visit next sunday of ‘David Bowie is’ will be a tough one.

  125. Crel13 says:

    Such very sad news. Tears are in my eyes. David’s music has helped me through the good times and bad. Rest In Peace my friend and thank you.

  126. Anonymous says:

    Broke up with my long-term girlfriend last night, woke up this morning with the song ‘Never Let Me Down’ running through my head, and then found out that Bowie is dead. Pretty devastated. It really helps to come here and read all the comments. x

  127. John Riordan says:

    When Where Are We Now? came out of nowhere I thought, do you know, I’ve never really sat down and listened to a Bowie album. Soon after I found this blog. Little did I know that it would lead me on a fascinating Bowie odyssey over the next three years, trying to absorb each album along with Chris’s thoughts before moving on to the next. Blackstar is the first album that I got to buy and listen to as soon as it was released. It’s a great sign-off and, if you’ll pardon the self-indulgence for a moment, now it feels like he was waiting for me to catch up. Chris, thanks so much for PAOTD, it’s been a door into all sorts of fascinating things, not just Bowie but also Scott Walker, Roxy, Eno and so much more.

  128. Stolen Guitar says:

    So, this really is the end.

    Sadness and shock don’t even begin to cover it. He was the single biggest influence on my life and how I viewed the world I was living in. I had my family and friends for love and support and I had my schooling for all the rest, but David Bowie’s entrance into my life and into my head was life transforming and, as it transpired, lifelong and permanent.

    I know that everyone here on this temple to him will be just as numb and sad as I am right now, and words to describe his effect on us all are pretty inadequate and cannot even remotely do justice to him. Hamlet’s adoring tribute to his father is too often misappropriated and cravenly applied, but in David Bowie’s case it seems absolutely appropriate and fitting that paraphrasing Shakespeare’s line should provide a fitting summation of this uniquely gifted man:

    He’d urged us to sparkle and we duly did so; anything to get him to land (tonight). We shall not see his like again, but his light will always be seen when we look out of our windows at night.

  129. Michael says:

    Just lost for words.

    I’m visiting my parents overseas at the moment and they told me first thing this morning. A strange full circle as they were the ones to introduce me so many years ago.

    Whilst I was sleeping he was dying.

  130. tb says:

    Today’s news hit hard. This is an already dark album made both sad and triumphant. I’m not sure if it’s confirmation bias or not, but I’m hearing snippets of earlier tracks everywhere – are those two-chord guitar stabs at the end of Lazarus from the intro to Absolute Beginners? Is the harmonica on the last track from A New Career? The album’s a masterpiece, even if the production’s a bit iffy here and there – a brilliant end.

    • Chris says:

      There’s a sax riff on one of the Blackstar songs that reminds me very much of Absolute Beginners – I’ll try and make a note of it next time I listen to the album.

  131. Vinnie says:

    Friday: triumph
    Monday: sadness

    Blackstar will now forever be David Bowie’s last album

    “I Can’t Give Everything Away”

  132. Hyene le Boulanger says:

    I’ve read and relished this blog for years, voted in the poll, but shyness kept me silent till now. I can’t begin to say what a comfort this community is today. Thank you, humbly and sincerely.

  133. Anonymous says:

    The characters in Blackstar – button eyes was Bowie blind to the afterlife. The cheeky salesman is GOD (I bet you laugh out loud at me) identifying himself as the great I am taking David home.
    The villa of Orman, conquered by Christians, conquered by GOD. David is coping with how to finally give up and give in, his entire discography repeats this theme, how to give in to a higher source. He can’t give everything away. But he’s trying hard to fit in with GODs scheme of things. The beating drum at the end of Blackstar is Bowie’s heart.

    This is so beautiful, like one of his favorite novels he’s constructed the greatest story. There is a Happy Land…

  134. Tresilaze says:

    It’s wonderful that what he knew to be his final album is one if his best and was met with universal admiration. He put so much into it and, unlike with some other records, his efforts weren’t wasted on a public with ears made of tin and hearts of coal.

    This is a spectacular album, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to listen to it again.

    • heynongman says:

      This has been exactly what I’ve been telling myself in consolation. He gave us such a wonderful gift. I’m grateful we received it so well.

  135. Anonymous says:

    “I am the October man
    I dream of many things
    This is my desire

    This melancholia
    This lure of golden wings

    I am the October man
    I live for no one
    This is my damnation

    I dream of many things
    The rape of angels

    This odour of desire
    These fumes of funeral fire
    This is my celebration

    I am the October man
    I dream of many things
    This is my desire”

    Guitar work on “I Can’t Give Everything Away” kind of reminds me of Bill Nelson’s “The October Man”. Lyrics seem kind of fitting….

    • Paul O says:

      Funny. In an e-mail I received this morning, a friend referred to the guitar work in “I Can’t Give Everything Away” as “that ‘Teenage Wildlife’ guitar.” I had to smile…

    • Paul O says:


    • ramonaAstone says:

      Oh my goodness. The outfit looked so faded in the video, I’m sure it must have been the same one too. He was such a hoarder of his costumes. ❤
      Thank you so much for noticing and sharing!

    • Phil Obbard says:

      Someone on Instagram did a side-by-side comparison. I came away thinking it’s a recreation — the # of stripes on the sleeves don’t match, for example, and I don’t think 2015 Bowie could wear something so form-fitting on tiny, underweight 1975 Bowie (unless he had a slew of pins in the back in ’75). Still, a great reference, very much for the fans — and also to let us know he was about to fall to earth, again…

      • Shane75 says:

        Yes. A reference to ‘station to station’ that is chilling now. And in ‘five years the doc’ he referred to ziggy as ‘a mythological priest’.. like in the * video….

      • heynongman says:

        I’ve been wondering about the meaning a lot. Is he wanting to link the song and video to Station to Station, or is this meant to be a reference to Kabbalah? Both?

    • djmac says:

      wow. just wow. things just keep going deeper and deeper!

  136. Dave L says:

    Blackstar is a masterpiece.

    Easily in my Bowie top 10 albums, if not top 5.

    In this age of iTunes, it’s great that Bowie has reasserted the album as art form. It almost demands to be listened to from start to finish.

    And by the time I’m halfway through “I Can’t Give Everything”, I’m fighting back tears.

  137. bronyman1995 says:

    It’s so surreal hearing this album now that David is gone, since you can now spot all sorts of dark foreshadows and hints to his death in it. It helps give this dark, almost David Lynch-ian aura of “Blackstar” and “Lazarus”, what with the dark ebbing flows and sax lines, mixed in with the frenetic panic of “‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore” and “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime” and the discordant slang of “Girl Loves Me” and then the strangely relaxed and almost 80s-Pop styled “I Can’t Give Everything Away”.

    All in all an utterly fascinating and fitting conclusion to David’s musical lifetime.

  138. Bowietie Daddy says:

    I think I won’t listen to this album again. Like I don’t listen (willingly) any Nirvana track after the death of Kurt. Too painful. Too close to his parting. Too close to my life.
    I’m listening to some of his “bad” 80’s records. That’s the time I “met” him. Even in his “nadir” he was weird and fun and interesting. “The rest (of the 80’s) can go to hell”. He made the first record I bought. I was a kid. Now he’s gone.
    I’m watching his duet with Cher. Fun Bowie. And his interview with Rosie O’Donell and his wife Iman. Warm Bowie.

    • PriSol says:

      I feel the same way about his 1980s records. This is the truly ‘unloved’ Bowie (certainly in the public perception, and even among some fans). But I’ve mostly been listening to everything between Let’s Dance and BTWN this week, more or less on a constant loop. It is strangely comforting to embrace this side of his work right now.

    • PriSol says:

      But I am also able to listen to Blackstar, albeit sparingly for the moment. It is wonderful he went out like this. What a way to take a final bow.

      • Bowietie Daddy says:

        You know, I can’t listen to the line “Where the fuck did Monday go?” without remenbering the day I learned he was gone. Maybe in the future, I will listen to the album.

  139. ramonaAstone says:

    I don’t know about the CD, but in the vinyl the lyrics are displayed like constellations, perhaps another echo – the “Let’s Dance” album cover.

  140. jbacardi says:

    Delighted to see Bowie break out the Nadsat for “Girl Loves Me”. Well played, Sir.

  141. I have only heard Lazarus off this album so far as it’s been making the rounds on Facebook. It’s very haunting, especially since I knew he died before I heard the song. I’m looking forward to checking out the rest of the tracks.

  142. Charles Hunt says:

    I have been Listening to Bowie all week – across all of his work ; 70’s , 80’s , 90’s, 00’s and the 10’s – wow! what a choice – trying to come to terms with this “final” album – although I very much doubt this is the last new material that we get to enjoy. Blackstar certainly compares very well with his past output. I think the closest comparison is probably Black Tie/White Noise which is up their with his best. I am very moved with “I can’t give everything away” – where he sounds emotional yet in control and his quite frankly beautiful voice is as good as it’s ever been. In the light of the recent statement by Tony Visconti it seems this was not perhaps intended to be his last work as he was working on new material up to the end. The release of Blackstar had his sudden passing seem not to be so closely linked as we first thought. It is fair to say that a lot of his songs contain dark lyrics so I don’t read every reference to his death, but it is difficult to get away from that. Blackstar is just great, not as his last album but just as it is. I think I will probably frame Blackstar and hang it on my wall. This is going to give me even more to ponder over for many years to come. Awesome work Mr Bowie.

  143. Verdelay says:

    So, Blackstar.

    It has been a week since I first heard it. A certain event unfolded in the meantime which rendered something like clarity to its content and execution, but which ruptured the usual process of assimilation. For that reason this record stands alone. No more about that event…although one cannot pull out of its gravity if one still wishes to engage with the record’s substance.

    Others here have called this the greatest concept album of all time. I couldn’t really disagree with that. It was clearly conceived with a very particular theme in mind, something that preoccupied its author during the period of it’s composition. I wouldn’t say that its theme was ‘death’ as such, but rather dying. The great theme of our lives.

    Here are some sketches of interpretation, for what it’s worth. Incomplete, unoriginal, surely. It all seems so obvious now, but that’s the great stage magic that turned the album inside out three days after we first heard it.

    Here we have the overture, the author’s self-conception. He has become a ‘blackstar’, once bright and beaming, now run out of fuel, collapsing in on itself. Time is up. This big opening number speaks to the author’s iconic stature, a self-awareness of how he stands in the public gaze; but also there is a tone of humility. He’s a flash-in-the-pan. Someone else will take his place. There’s drama, humour, tenderness, and dread here. And a great love of life: I’m a blackstar way up on money, I got game/I see right, so wide, so open-hearted pain/I want eagles in my daydreams, diamonds in my eyes…

    ‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore
    This seems more self-directed, a tinge of regret for a life of indulgence perhaps? ‘Tis my curse, I suppose. Kicking himself, maybe. All the preliminaries are done with: this is the final act, time to face the final curtain, but not without a fight: That was patrol; this is the war.

    Looking back then, how did we come to be here? The most direct song to speak of the author’s impending singularity. Accepting, perhaps, of his fate…but then there’s the title.

    Here we have denial: I got the job. The x-ray’s fine. Now we’ll make it. But then we oscillate back to acceptance: endless faith in hopeless deeds…goodbye. ‘Sue’ here is the author himself, it seems.

    Girl Loves Me
    I take this song (and the next) to address the ‘moments between’, the days that fly by, one’s own decline measured in increments. There’s confusion and anger here. The title wraps around like a comforting blanket.

    Dollar Days
    Waiting for something that must come but you don’t know when, or what it will look like. You just get up and go about your business as best you can. Little incidents, a life in microcosm. But the days are otherwise the same to everyone else, and the world will surely go on without you. Weakness, regrets, stoic resolve.

    I Can’t Give Everything Away
    We close our eyes to the impending reality (the blackout hearts), we are chipper and positive when speaking to others about what’s going on (the flowered news), but just as you forget about it all, you glance down and a glimpse of the skull design on your own shoes bring it all back into shocking focus. There can be no escape. Of course, the title speaks of the concealment of the act of dying from all but his closest coterie; but there are other resonances: a defiance here that something will be retained, will always belong to him; and acceptance, that he must be the master of his own end. Then the final word…’…away’. And off he soars.

    A final testament indeed, a masterpiece. But how like our hero if the very final new music is from the soundtrack to a children’s cartoon…the spirit of the laughing gnome lives on! But I suspect there’s more of him for us to hear, artefacts from the vaults, perhaps, over time, when we and others are ready.

  144. wirestone says:

    Apologies for the length of this in advance.

    I would urge everyone when listening to this album to take a moment before saying this album is about death or dying. Because it is art, because it was created, it is necessarily about living.

    Talk about Bowie’s death as a stunt, or the album and musical as some sort of grand farewell leading up to his death is reductive to the extreme. Art — and people — simply do not work that way. The musical was conceived before his illness was diagnosed. A chunk of the album was written before then as well.

    What’s more, the fact that Bowie himself wanted to do both a sequel to the musical and a follow up to the album — managing to complete significant work on the latter — suggest that he didn’t see either as his last will and testament to the world.

    Now, I’m not naive enough to say that Bowie wasn’t affected by his illness. But most men with health issues in their late 60s are going to consider mortality in their creative works. And most men aren’t Bowie, who has written about such subjects from the beginning of his career.

    So what did the impending deadline affect? I’d guess it was largely timing and practical matters. Bowie knew he had to get the album and musical done. So that explains the seven-song tracklist with two remakes. That explains the haste to get the musical finished, and likely the fact that it incorporates a bunch of his older songs.

    As for the songs themselves, there are lines that stand out. “Dollar Days” seems to grapple most plainly with the subject. And “Lazarus” and bits of “Blackstar,” too.

    But just because you know you’re going to die, it doesn’t mean you write everything in a certain way, with a certain purpose. I mean, “Blackstar” (the song) has bunch of funny stuff in it. And there’s an air of joy in so much of the album — of letting loose, of blowing off steam.

    Because folks facing the end want to have fun and enjoy life too. They want to do what they’ve always done, but perhaps with a bit more urgency.

    So was Bowie was perpetuating a giant performance art piece in his last year and a half of life? I really doubt it. I think he wanted to make and do as much as he could, spend as much time with his loved ones as he could, and he wanted to keep living and keep doing both of those things.

    But he was also practical and canny, and knew the odds. And he knew what he faced. So he wrote about it, sometimes, but with plausible deniability. And he made sure that the album would have some added resonance if he wasn’t around. Otherwise, he just put his head down and did what he loved.

    That’s the message that he sent, I think. Do what is important, do what you love, and do it as well and as long as you can.

    • Phil Obbard says:

      Great post. The latest news — that Bowie thought he had another LP in him, and had even started it — reinforces your point. It’s tempting to see Blackstar as Bowie’s own requiem, but it’s not clear that he did.

      Either way, it’s a magnificent final “gift”, to use Visconti’s term.

      I remember when Heathen came out (another record filled with references to mortality), people thought it was about 9/11 (it wasn’t) and that it might be about Bowie’s mortality. Thankfully, it wasn’t, but imagine if he’d died shortly after, how we’d talk about it then?

      Or what about “Here I am / Not quite dying”, from his surprise comeback The Next Day?

    • Matthew says:

      Thanks for your perspective, I found it very positive, you certainly made me think. My favorite song is Lazarus, and I think this and subsequent events have coloured my view of the other tracks.

    • Verdelay says:

      I wrote to a friend last Sunday night and said that, before I’d heard the album, I’d thought that it was probably intended as grand, final statement and would be Bowie’s last. This based on the lyrical and visual symbolism of the lead single.

      I went on to say that, now I had actually heard Blackstar in full, I wasn’t so sure. It seemed too brimming with confidence and ideas to be a deliberate requiem, too full of life. It looks forward in so many ways, not back. The trilogy of Hours, Heathen and Reality are to me ear more world-weary and retrospective in tone than either of the last two records. I now looked forward to an ongoing future of reinvigorated artistic creation. If Visconti and Eno’s reports are anything to go by, so was our man. But I think you are right to suggest that he was doing all of this with an added sense of urgency knowing what he knew about his own health. He clearly wasn’t going to give up his art and sit an armchair and wait for the knock on the door

      I believe it is possible to love life, to want to go on living, and to face up to the inevitability – even the immanent inevitability – of death at one and the same time. They are not mutually exclusive or in opposition to one another. I do think Blackstar takes dying as its subject, but death is not the opposite of life, just the last part of it.

      • wirestone says:

        Verdelay — That’s precisely what I thought. “It seemed too brimming with confidence and ideas to be a deliberate requiem, too full of life.” Exactly. I mean, I he covered his ass. But the new Guardian piece suggests that he stayed positive, kept hoping for new treatments, kept plowing ahead. From the man who kept performing through cardiac trouble, would you expect anything less?

    • Mr Tagomi says:

      I agree with this 100%.

      The plausible deniability element in these songs is important to keep in mind.

      The day I got the album I thought I was listening to an artist with another 20 or even 30 years of creativity in him, if his health held out. Because it really did sound like that.

      I’ve often thought about what kind of music he’d be writing in his 80s or even 90s.

  145. Phil Obbard says:

    A friend looks into the “I’m sittin’ in a chestnut tree” line from “Girl Loves Me”, and comes up with this… interesting, given Bowie’s known interest in “1984”:

    The Chestnut Tree cafe was almost empty….
    It was the lonely hour of fifteen.
    A tinny music trickled from the telescreens….
    Winston sat in his usual corner, gazing into an empty glass….
    Something changed in the music that trickled from the telescreen.
    A cracked and jeering note, a yellow note, came into it.
    And then…a voice was singing:

    Under the spreading chestnut tree
    I sold you and you sold me…

    The tears welled up in Winston’s eyes.
    A passing waiter noticed that his glass was empty
    and came back with the gin bottle.


    Turns out, there is a 1938 Big Band song called “Underneath The Spreading Chestnut Tree”, which is what Orwell is playing with here.

    Of course, speaking of Orwell and 1984 (copied from another site)…

    “Not only figuratively but also literally was the writing of “1984” like a bout of some painful illness for George Orwell. Throughout its writing he was fighting tuberculosis and was at times admitted to the hospital where his typewriter was taken away from him. Undaunted he sat in bed, propped up on pillows, and wrote in longhand with ball-point pen. He was administered a newly developed drug to which he developed a severe allergic reaction. His skin flaked, his mouth became painfully ulcerated, his hair and nails fell out. After several months recuperating in the sanitorium Orwell returned to his home on the remote Scottish island of Jura, one of the most inaccessible spots in the British Isles, and finished writing “1984” in December 1948. He then went immediately back into hospital and was never again healthy enough to be discharged. “1984” was published in June 1949 and Orwell died seven months later on January 21st, 1950, at the age of 46.”

    • Brian says:

      Thanks for sharing that, really sad and interesting to see what Orwell went through and especially how young he was when he died!

    • wytchcroft says:

      The Orwell nod seems spot-on thanks for that.

      Has anyone mentioned Dennis Potter?
      Cold Lazarus has a boy in the tree as a key memory (and call back to Singing Detective which…hospital bed etc) projected for the future viewers.

      the line of association leads to Flatliners where Billy (?), the boy in the tree, becomes a wrathful figure back from the dead (and from dreams) who no/one would want to fuck with.

  146. Greg Abate says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for this site. I’ve stumbled upon it a few times in the past and rediscovered it this week (thanks to a link from All Music). I don’t have anything new to contribute, but it was cathartic to read others grappling with similar feelings that I had this week… excitement and gratitude for a great new album last weekend, followed by the shock and fuller comprehension of its meaning on Monday. I wept and sobbed to ★ on Monday night. Guess I should have known better, though it seems only now do I fully realize and appreciate what this man and his music has meant and means to me.

  147. Patrick says:

    Just to add to the spec on the imagery from the videos. The buttons
    over the eyes reminds me of the tradition (from Greek times in the mouth then eyes from Roman times, apparently) of placing coins over the eyes of the dead to pay for their journey to the afterlife. While coins wouldn’t of course stay in place , maybe the sewn on buttons act as a replacement symbol , being in reality as worthless in the Underworld as coins would have been or Bowie’s kinda saying with all his wealth (“living like a king” in “New York”) he “cant take it with him”.

    • Christian says:

      Interesting, Patrick. Also, the coins may have been too obvious, given the fact that Blackstar is full of hints without directly revealing what is going on. As with a lot of stuff on Queen’s Innuendo album highly cryptic.

  148. Sparkeyes says:

    I wish I wouldn’t get cross at the use of “meter” (Blackstar) and then “honour” (Dollar Days) in the printed lyrics.
    But I also wish they wouldn’t do it.

    • Patrick says:

      Why? if they were copied word for word, he was born and brought up in England , that’s how he probably still wrote by hand. Would you Americanize Shakespeare?

  149. Sparkeyes says:

    What I’m saying is “meter” is the American spelling, “honour” is the British spelling.
    The mixture may be intentional for any number of reasons but it strikes me as poor proof-reading.
    Empty pedantry on my part, or a wish for the due care deserving of the work in hand. I don’t even know.

    • Vinnie says:

      Probably intentional. Bowie lived roughly half of his life in America, the early part in England. If it’s a direct transcription, it’s how he chose to spell the words.

    • Patrick says:

      “Meter” also has a musical meaning, DB rarely did things by accident and when he did it was intentional, I doubt with his attention to detail, unless ill health prevented him, he didn’t check the lyrics with a possible intended ambiguity,

      • Matthew says:

        Yes, yes, yes. Thanks for the insight!
        I had just assumed he meant metre but thought it strange as Americans use feet and inches and so do most Brits over a certain age.
        If he meant meter (refering to music and poetry) it certainly changes the meaning.
        Some sights are spelling it metre though, is there a definitive version?

  150. bzfgt says:

    This is interesting, although it requires a certain deposit of goodwill on the part of the reader:

  151. Rob Thomas says:

    Nothing particularly interesting to add, but want to add my voice as a long-time fan of the blog: yes! what a piece of work! Certainly in the top dozen albums for me…

    (Now working on a cover version of the title track: acoustic guitar, violin, viola…)

  152. Duncan Pike says:

    So I finally got my copy in the 2nd round of vinyl and unfortunately it has 2 small imperfections on side 1. I’m going to have to return it and now wait for the next batch to come round. Does anyone else have this or am I just unlucky?

    • Paul O says:

      Mine’s still on back order…

    • Vinnie says:

      (I never know how much people understand about the process of vinyl manufacturing, so I’ll leave this brief)

      I don’t know how many thousands of records the pressing of Blackstar is, but, in essence, the plates to manufacture the actual completed-vinyl records themselves break down over time. They’re only good for so many units. In short: you probably got a later-pressing, or the end-of a certain plating-pressing. (This is why vinyl dorks are obsessed with test pressings – because it’s the first set of the process, and therefore, the best possible audio quality from an overall vinyl order).

      Sorry to hear you got the shaft on this one, maybe you’ll get an earlier pressing. (There’s no way to ever know). My copy of Blackstar is flawless.

      • Anonymous says:

        got a replacement pretty quick but only just remembered to leave a quick update. replacement was perfect and don’t see anyone else complaining of the same issue so must have just been unlucky

  153. Alan says:

    Love the blog and just wanted to say how stunning Blackstar is. I’m so glad that my initial response of Blackstar (and the general consensus) was so overwhelmingly favourable before the sad news on 11th January. It’s certainly an album that flows rather than sounding like a collection of songs stitched together. The reworking of ‘Sue’ works well with the rest of the album, although I prefer the original and I can’t help thinking of the Sex Pistols ‘My Way’ whenever I hear ‘Tis A Pity…'(but that’s no bad thing!). Too soon to say exactly where it fits in the pantheon of great Bowie albums but as a parting gift – perfect.

  154. djonn says:

    The Blackstar video- the eclipsed sun/ Bowie’s permanently dilated pupil? Probably coincidence and something someone here has mentioned before, but something that just struck me watching it again.

  155. David Sokol says:

    I’m new to this blog and it’s fantastic to be able to take in this wealth of information and interpretation from people that obviously love David Bowie as much as I do. It’s a sweet thing.

  156. Often a few days after listening to “Lazarus,” I find myself singing the tune of “Strictly Confidential” by Roxy Music to myself. (The two songs share a progression of I-bVI and are both concerned with last words.)

  157. Ramzi says:

    Has anyone else pointed out how the five small truncated stars at the bottom of the album kind of spell out BOWIE in their own way?

  158. The verse melody of the vocal couplets in “I Can’t Give Everything Away” feels like an allusion to something, perhaps by another artist and I haven’t been able to place it for months. Does anyone else hear this?

  159. Rob Thomas says:

    Sorry if this has been posted before- but it’s a good one. And lovely to hear yet another anecdote that involves DB not being believed when ringing someone up personally…

  160. This album sucks, and anyone who likes it is a sheep.

    Sorry – couldn’t resist.

    I like “Blackstar” a lot. Despite whatever comparisons anyone might draw to Bowie’s previous material, it’s a step or two beyond it. I can’t wait for his next album.

    (No, he’s not really dead, and anyone who believes so is a sheep.)

    • Mark says:

      When “trying” to be funny it has to work especially when it is written on the net with so many lunatics that claim Bowie is alive. Yeah anyone who is famous never dies it’s all a hoax. I absolutely despise people like that because they are as deceptive as religion all trickery & clickbait. It’s almost as bad as all the youtube tributes with people singing karaoke to Bowie making it about them not him. Very sad

  161. Ramona says:

    I just saw the video for I Can’t Give Everything.

    More tears.

    Chris, your blog has been such a gift to me since the news came. Thank you so much for giving my teenage hero back to me with so much more depth than I ever imagined.

  162. Michael says:

    I was listening to this today on the train, on the way to a meeting.

    The part that made me catch my breath was the sound of Bowie’s own at the beginning of Tis Pity.

    He just felt so close.

  163. Matthew says:

    At the center of it all
    Your eyes,
    Your eyes

    At the center of it all
    Slow Burn
    Slow Burn
    Slow Burn

    Just noticed and wondered if it was intentional, will have to reread both sets of lyrics now!

  164. kimlove says:

    It is so strange to come to this thread and realize that no one has commented about the death of the artist who created the music thatyou are discussing so methodically, even his very last song! Wow, you people are really weird. I don’t know if david bowie would have really wanted such weirdos to be fans!!*

  165. Rob Thomas says:

    Many of you may have heard this, but it’s too good not to share. Critchley manages to be critically really acute and really human too.

  166. madridclouds says:

    I first came across Bowie when i was in Middle School, about a decade ago, but as is the case with me and almost all the music i hear, i never delved into his catalogue. I only knew that i really liked the different but unique songs that he offered and i had listened. He left a deep impression on me though and as the casual music listener that i was (i’m starting to get more music savvy) he stuck as one of my favorite artists.

    But this January i heard about Blackstar and then played “Tis A Pity She Was a Whore.” And i went nuts. Since then i have been going on my own Bowie journey and i still have ways to go.

    Mr. Col1234, i can’t wait for your Blackstar entries, and especially that of Tis a Pity. I’ve read the and Pitchfork reviews and there are a few points that grab my attention.

    Stephen Thomas Erlewine: “Fittingly, the music itself is suspended in time, sometimes recalling the hard urban gloss of ’70s prog — Bowie’s work, yes, but also Roxy Music and, especially, the Scott Walker of Nite Flights — and sometimes evoking the drum’n’bass dabbling of the ’90s incarnation of the Thin White Duke, sounds that can still suggest a coming future, but in the context of this album these flourishes are the foundation of a persistent present.”

    Ryan Dombal:” Blackstar has David Bowie embracing his status as a no-fucks icon, clutching onto remnants from the past as exploratory jazz and the echos of various mad men soundtrack his freefall.”

    My opinion of Blackstar is that it’s the type of album he probably should have tried to orchestrate slowly in his brain for years if it was indeed that much of a struggle for him to reach great quality. Just as Scott Walker takes his time, Bowie should have relaxed and thought about where to go. For me it’s hard to think that someone so apparently brilliant lost the plot the way it seems he did.

    As the two review men hint at: “Girl Loves Me” reminds me of the urban, dark foggy city alley, madmen found in The Idiot and Nite Flights, “Tis A Pity” seems like it could have been on Heroes and of course brings back thoughts of songs like “Sons of the Silent Age” and even Lust For Life. In fact, The Sax here invokes a lot of thoughts, one of them being Bowie’s lust to bring about some brilliance in the last moments of his life.

    “Blackstar” of course mash of alot of stuff, and then “Sue”…Boy i love “Sue,” the last part/ending (of the Rockier version) has become one of my favorite Bowie moments ever, inspired by the darkness in Walker’s work but also of reminds me of the vibe of songs like Look Back In Anger and Scream Like a Baby for example…

    And i don’t know about you but the intros and vibes of “Stay” and “Sue” make it seem to me like they are long lost siblings. First time i heard both their intros i thought of James Bond lol.

    I still have much more to learn and listen, thanks for everything in this Blog.

  167. Yakbutter says:

    In a post from April, Michael says ‘the part that made me catch my breath was the sound of Bowie’s own at the beginning of Tis Pity’. I think this is one of the clues that make this one of the easier songs to understand on Blackstar. If you go to the 2 minute 10 second point of Time from Aladdin Sane you will hear the same breathing. I see ‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore’ as a follow on song to Time.

    In the original song Bowie sings ‘Time – He flexes like a whore’, now he laments that ‘Tis Pity She Was a Whore’ (don’t worry about the gender – time has no gender). In the background of Tis Pity (particularly the original) you can hear an accelerating electronic beat which represents the passing time. Bowie then sings ‘Hold your mad hands’. These are the hands of a clock that he wants to stop.

    When he sings ‘That was Patrol, This is the War’ he is contrasting the feeling of time passing as a young man with the heightened sense of time passing when he was approaching his final days.

    I feel sure this is right. A further point that may be stretching it is that the John Ford play referenced by the title has incest at it’s heart. This seems to resonate with the line ‘incestuous and vain’ from Time.

    I love this site which I’ve only recently discovered. When is Blackstar going to properly reviewed?

    PS Apologies if any of this has been covered in a previous post but I haven’t noticed it yet

  168. Dean A says:

    Is there a full version of the Last Panthers’ Blackstar out there somewhere? All I can find is the 45 second show intro.

  169. Mark says:

    Seven months in & I still get that pain in my chest when I see anything relating to Blackstar. I first heard the cd the night he died, little did I know then. Now I have to get in the right mode to listen to it. A true masterpiece from start to finish.

    • slowburn says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Am now 49 & have loved him since I was 16. Played Blackstar through several times on the 8th & 9th January, but sad to say I have been unable to listen to it since. It still hurts too much. Have bought tickets for Lazarus in London, because it was his last work in effect & obviously held great importance for him, but really don’t know if I’m going to be able to get through it

  170. Jasmine says:

    Something kind of hit me today…

    Absolutely convinced Bowie WAS referring to Isis, but to the Egyptian goddess. I posted this on another site but think it’s meaningful to put it here too;

    While everyone thought Bowie meant daesh he obviously meant Queen Isis. Interesting notes for Isis on wikipedia – ‘Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Set. Using her magical skills, she restored his body to life after having gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Set’.

    Was Bowie identifying with Osiris in Blackstar? ‘He was described as the “Lord of love”,”He Who is Permanently Benign and Youthful” and the “Lord of Silence” ‘ The cult of Osiris (who was a god chiefly of regeneration and rebirth) had a particularly strong interest in the concept of immortality’.

    Was Lazarus a later Christian version of the same deity Osiris? Well I don’t know any of that, but am pretty sure DB read all about this mythology.

    • Thomas says:

      This makes a lot of sense. I never could figure out how Isis fit into the song – but your theory explains a lot.

  171. Phil Obbard says:

    Related: if you love Blackstar and need more, I’m enthralled with Donny McCaslin’s new BEYOND NOW (out 10/14, at least in the US). The disc is dedicated to Bowie, and has many Bowie connections (besides being the work of his Blackstar backing band!).

    The vibe of “Lazarus” is particularly present throughout, and not just on covers of “A Small Plot of Land”, “Warszawa”, and “Beyond Now”, based on a Blackstar outtake (and it shows).

  172. stevev44 says:

    Glad to see this thread still going. Just listed to BEYOND NOW, which rattles along quite nicely. The songs are real journeys, ending in very different places than they begin, and I enjoyed the Bowie covers quite a bit. Listened to the three Blackstar-session cuts streaming online and cannot shake “No Plan.” Waiting for the download to listen again.

    • Mr Tagomi says:

      It grabbed me from the first few bars, which can only be a good thing!

      I like what he did vocally with A Small Plot of Land too. He’s got a good voice.

  173. TisAPity says:

    I found Killing a Little Time to be pretty damn awesome! Love how bowie gets devoured by the piano, sax, and guitar and everything all going at it at the end. A good implementation of Outsidey ideas.

    No Plan is a pleasure to listen to. Read pitchfork’s take on it and its relationship to “My Way.”

    Still gotta hear more of the other track.

    I don’t think it would have really hurt the album to include these 2 songs but alas.

  174. leonoutside says:

    Bluebird. That Bluebird. I just wonder, whether the Bluebird, Captal B, was referring to the Waterspeed record boat, The one in 1967, that flipped over, and was never found. Nether it, nor its captain, Sailor Donald Campbell. This was huge news in UK back then. Campbell was a mysterious hero type figure, of the old school. But perhaps…That implies definite article, but yea, can just as well mean any in particular.

  175. Flyken says:

    Anyone know the type of saxophone used in No Plan? The same type used in I Can’t Give Everything Away?

  176. TisAPity says:

    Mr O’Leary, do you by any chance have any info on what kind of song “Blaze” is? How it sounds?

  177. TisAPity says:

    Hi, may i ask you another question Mr. O’Leary? (i ask in this thread because apparently i can’t comment in the Heroes posts, there’s no option)

    When it comes to the electronics/soundscapes in Low and Heroes, how were the particular sounds and aesthetics chosen/designed? I know Eno was the main man behind the synths, but what exactly does that mean? I assume Bowie had a certain vision in his head and then worked with Eno to make it a reality? I don’t believe this has been clarified explicitly.

    When i hear Low and Heroes for example, i wouldn’t easily confuse the idiosynchratic quality, nature, and personality particular to these albums with Neu!, Radio-Activity, or Another Green World, despite all these obviously sharing similarities; and considering Bowie once said “Tony, Brian and I created a powerful, anguished, sometimes euphoric language of sounds…nothing else sounded like those albums. Nothing else came close. If I never made another album, it really wouldn’t matter now. My complete being is within those three. They are my DNA,” it makes me ask just what exactly was Bowie’s role in orchestrating the big picture vision as well as the details.

    For example, with a song like Heroes, i know Eno was given liberty to make synth passages, but then what was Bowie’s role in deciding that he wanted to make a song that sounded and was structured exactly the way Heroes was structured? Eno himself said he thought the song would be just another instrumental, and yet Bowie made it into something else. I know Eno provided synths and all kinds of treatments, and Visconti did all kinds of wizardry with drum sounds and vocal treatments as well for example, but then was it Bowie who decided he and his music would sound as that entire first side of Heroes?

    My vague idea has always been that Bowie was a form of director, and then his crew, primarily Eno, Visconti, Fripp, and Alomar helped color in the sketches (the sketches being lyrics, structure, and music/melody) the way editors and cinematographers would according to the vision and instructions of a main man.

    I’m all over the place here but i hope i’m clear with my questions, thanks :).

    • TisAPity says:

      To clarify my main question is, how did Low and “Heroes” end up sounding like…Low and “Heroes”? The vocals and synths (and their specific quality), were they Bowie’s vision which he then worked with Eno and Visconti to make a reality, or did Eno for example just present sounds and treatments and Bowie rolled with Eno’s aesthetics?

      Because i know you’ve mentioned that Eno was more of a presence on the instrumentals on both albums, and on the first sides he was more in the background, but then my question is about the actual aesthetic, what is that attributed to?

      If you were to put Heroes and Remain in Light together in comparison for example, they have aesthetics, they SOUND like nothing else, but Eno was involved in both, so are this HIS aesthetics and sounds or Bowie and Byrne’s?

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