David Bowie, dead at 69

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Here am I floating round my tin can
Far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do.

David Bowie has died, as dramatically as he ever lived, even leaving us with a parting album, released on his birthday, and celebrated days before his death, with a final death-embracing video as he slips away into a wardrobe.

As an artist, he was an enigma — an artistic chameleon — never the same, always re-inventing himself, always bigger than life. As a performer he was rock theater; tantalizing us, and making sure we never figured him out. For a while we didn’t even know his sex. It was for that reason I was never into his music. David Bowie was always deeper and darker than I wanted to go, but those people who went with him, are the ones who will miss him the most.

The last song of his final album, Blackstar, is the song, “I Can’t Give Everything Away.” In it, Bowie pinpoints what his message has been all along:

Seeing more and feeling less
Saying no but meaning yes
This is all I ever meant
That’s the message that I sent

In other words, “I meant the opposite.”

In the video of one of his last songs, Bowie sings from his death bed. It is being celebrated now because of the poignant lyrics of a man who knew he would be dead by the time most people discovered this swan song. It opens with the line “Look up here, I’m in heaven.” The song is called “Lazarus,” and most of the commentators will probably think he was referring to the man Jesus raised from the dead as a kind of resurrection of Bowie through his music that lives on.

That works. But there’s another Lazarus in the Bible, and I have a strong hunch he was thinking about that Lazarus. That Lazarus was a poor man, covered with sores, who sat begging at the door of a rich man hoping for a few scraps from his table. When these men die, their roles reverse, and the rich man is now looking up at Lazarus in heaven, begging for him to come with even a drop of water to cool his tongue.

“Look up here, I’m in heaven.” Are we the rich ones, looking up at David now, begging for a drop of water to cool our tongues? If anything, this album is a warning from a man who was dying — a warning to all of us to live so that we can die well, not like one whose final shot across the bow of life is that, in the end, we can’t even give everything away.

True art mirrors life and makes us grapple with its biggest questions. David Bowie was never about answers, he was too busy making sure we knew what the big questions were. Like the questions that scream from another piece of good art, the movie, Blade Runner: “Where do we come from? Where are we going? And how long have we got?”

David Bowie, dead at 69.

Ground control to Major Tom
Can you hear me Major Tom?
… Major Tom?

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13 Responses to David Bowie, dead at 69

  1. David Bowie embodied what it means to be an artist. Basically you are expressing a message. If you remove the music and look at lyrics, there are definitely some deep and dark messages. The stuff that makes you think. At the end of the Lazarus video, it seems he has much more to say and is trying to write it all down. Then it’s over. So many lessons about spending time in a meaningful way. And spending time in a way that affects eternity!

  2. Leslie says:

    David Bowe left his mark in our world. I wonder if we as Christians lived “leaving a mark” what that would make our world look like? Why aren’t we all living bold like that? We should be living out loud like that everyday wherever we go. I didn’t follow all his stuff, but I definately knew who he was. People around us should know who we are!! Just my perception of how David Bowe affected my thought.

    • Sandie says:

      Leslie, we will ALL leave a mark…the question is, what will define the mark we leave behind? As a believer I have to continually make decisions – will I be a blessing or a curse – Will I shed Light or will I darken the darkness? If I die right now – what is my legacy? Did hope define me…or did condemnation? In short – did I extend the same Grace (God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense) that was shown me? Blessings to you!

    • jwfisch says:

      “Living out loud.” Great idea!

  3. dierama says:

    I agree with your hunch! We must be careful that we are not the rich man looking up at Lazarus in Heaven!

  4. sandra says:

    Lazarus, inspired by the 1963 novel The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis, centers on the character of Thomas Newton, famously portrayed by Mr. Bowie in the 1976 screen adaptation directed by Nicolas Roeg.

  5. rosewood11 says:

    Many years ago, the Lord impressed me to pray for David Bowie, and I have been doing so ever since Labyrinth. I have reason to believe that he made his peace with God, and look forward to seeing him in the heaven he said he was going to. I pray for the repose of his soul, and for the comfort of his family. I’m so glad he got the chance to be truly happy in these last 23 years with Iman, and his children. God bless them and his memory. David was very, very special.

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