Jan. 12th, 2016

Jan. 12th, 2016 03:36 pm
andalus: (silence)
I had some difficulty getting into the album. It seemed a little disparate. It was hard to find the connecting thread, and with such a short album (only seven tracks) that seemed important. The title track is gorgeous, with its vaguely middle-eastrn nods, its mysticism and fanaticism. Given the rumor that Bowie said, in passing, that the song is "about ISIS," it's tempting to read the song as an allegory of the Sunni/Shiite conflict:

Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)
Someone, somewhere has experienced true insight (the "solitary candle"), but he has passed and now all we have are preening, false prophets: "You’re a flash in the pan / I’m the Great I Am."

But in the context of the album the track felt out of left field. For good reason, it turns out, since most of the tracks were written for different things. "Blackstar" was written as an intro for Johan Renck's crime miniseries The Last Panthers, which premiered in October. (The opening credits sequence is trying very hard to be True Detective.) "Sue (or In a Season of Crime)" and "'Tis Pity She' Was a Whore" both came out in 2014, in different arrangements (a larger orchestra previously, just the McCaslin quintet on the album). "Sue" is a retelling of John Ford's Tis Pity She's a Whore, while "'Tis a Pity She Was a Whore" is a WWI story. Confusing, yes. "Lazarus" was written for the play at NYTW. "Look up here, I'm in heaven." The play has been sold out the whole time I've known about it, though briefly a few $1,000+ benefit tickets were available. I have friends who've seen it, but not close enough friends that I could ask them about it without getting jealous. "Lazarus" was being worked on after his diagnosis, so the claims that it is his swan song are well-founded, if a little overstated. Is it a song for Thomas Jerome Newton first and David Bowie second? Or typical line-blurring between persona and person?

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