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“Look Up Here, I’m In Heaven” review of David Bowie’s final album

January 29, 2016

David Bowie’s 26th studio album was released on January 8. This was Bowie’s 69th Birthday, and two days before his death. The day after the album came out, my quad mate told me, “Listen To Bowie’s newest album! It’s great.” The two of us listened to one of the tracks and talked about how different it was, how far it was from the rest of Bowie’s career, and how many more albums Bowie was going to make that were going to sound like this.

“What if he dies?” I jokingly asked.

“I doubt that, I haven’t heard anything about him being in poor health or anything,” my quad mate, a huge David Bowie fan, reassured me.

The next morning I woke up and learned the news. Bowie had been secretly fighting cancer for 18 months, and lost his battle. That afternoon I sat down to listen to David Bowie’s now final album.

There are two ways to hear Bowie’s last album. The first is when he is alive. When I listened to those tracks on the day after the album was released, they sounded energetic and full of life, brand new music from a truly legendary singer.

The songs seemed different, like nothing he had ever written before. They drew new influence from contemporary artists and brought excitement for what Bowie might do in the future.

The second way to hear the album is the way the vast majority of us heard it, after his death. This album suddenly became haunting. Each song on the album suddenly has a sense of finality to it. Bowie had kept his cancer secret from the world. His death was such a shock, but his final album was telling us flat out about his disease.

Perhaps the most hauntingly beautiful song on the album is the track ‘Lazarus.’ This song includes the line “Look up here, I’m in heaven.” The music video for this song, which depicts a blindfolded Bowie lying in a hospital bed, seems to be foreshadowing for the event that would be his death, just two days later. Each song on this album holds a little bit of melancholy, which adds to the little bit of mystery that was David Bowie’s life, not just his final album.

The album closes with the song “I Can’t Give Everything Away.” A fitting end to the legacy of one of the greatest musicians of all time. Lyrics in this song like “I know something is very wrong.” and “Seeing more and feeling less.” shed light on just which persona Bowie was using to write these songs.

It wasn’t the Thin White Duke, or The Man Who Sold The World. It wasn’t Ziggy Stardust or Major Tom. It was a dying David Bowie, shouting his last words, and making sure he went out the way he did everything else, in style.

Timothy Yates
Staff Writer

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