I can’t quite leave this one yet — the topic of David Bowie’s death. If you’ve seen the “Lazarus” video, you’ll know what I mean when I say that you keep on seeing it. Never, in my recollection, has anyone orchestrated the presentation of their own death to so many. The YouTube video of “Lazarus” already has nearly 17 million views. In it, he sings “I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen/Everybody knows me now.” He’s right. I learned more about David Bowie in the last 24 hours than I knew in all my life leading up to this event.
Why is it that artists/writers/actors are often known more after their deaths than when they were alive? Is it because their work on earth is complete; we can all look at it now? In Bowie’s case, it’s almost as if he’s safe now. He was dangerous when he was alive. Embrace him one day and he might make you look like a fool the next. Now we know — at least we think we know — what he was about.
Robert, one of our regular readers who comments often, wrote me after yesterday’s Catch, “I, too, wasn’t a fan of David Bowie during his heyday because of a conservative upbringing and a pharisaical type of indoctrination that forced me to believe that he was – willingly or unwillingly – a servant of the devil.
“Over time, I’ve learned to value the gifts God gave him along with the multitude of others who were ‘demonized’ by the church. But, moreover, I’ve learned to value these individuals who – knowing or unknowingly – reach out to our Father in Heaven seeking His guidance, wisdom, understanding, and help through their uniquely artistic inquisitiveness.”
Being in the presence of death makes life more acute. It also reorients your values. In “Lazarus,” Bowie talks about using up all his money living like a king in New York, but he makes a mockery of it, as if to say, “What does any of that mean now?” In this, he is like a modern day Solomon writing his own Ecclesiastes — rattling around the cage of his existence trying to make sense of it.
Part of truth is to identify what is false. Part of finding the way is showing what is not the way. Like Solomon, Bowie is standing on the edge of human fame, wealth and achievement, and calling back to us, “Hey guys, it’s not here!” In this way, David Bowie is a modern truth-teller. In his artistic inquisitiveness, he captured some of the wisdom of God. And if he got as far as Solomon, that’s pretty far. It was good enough to be in the Bible. Now, if we would just pay attention.
This way or no way
You know, I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now ain’t that just like me