David Bowie is releasing a new album on January 8, 2016, the date of his 69th birthday. A few years back, he released The Next Day, an album that was only partially reminiscent of the David Bowie we’ve all come to know and love and somewhat question the sanity of.
This new album, Blackstar, is possibly going to be the most David Bowie thing ever, and the video for the title track is almost definitely the most David Bowie thing ever.
Don’t try to understand what’s happening. You can’t understand what’s happening. Is that Major Tom in the beginning? Why is is skull adorned with jewels? Why does that girl have a tail? Did someone slip something into my morning coffee?
The answer to all of these questions is “David Bowie.”
The song itself is trippy, and the music seems to bear some resemblance to the Syd Barrett-era until just prior to Dark Side of the Moon-era Pink Floyd, while maintaining that “Holy crap, this is so David Bowie” when the whole thing is put together.
“He also took some words from A Clockwork Orange,” says [Tony] Visconti. “The lyrics are wacky, but a lot of British people, especially Londoners, will get every word.” The title track repeatedly refers to a “solitary candle.” “He told me it was about ISIS,” says [Donny] McCaslin. “It’s just an unbelievable tune.” (McCaslin’s ISIS assertion is news to [Mark] Guiliana and Visconti, who say they have no idea what the song is about.)
I have no idea, and because Bowie is notorious for not doing press (understandably so, given just how awful our press is), we may never know. Bowie hates tours as much as he seems to hate the press – he “retired” his classic songs in a tour in the 1990s, and performed “Changes” with Alicia Keys in 2006 – so it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing Blackstar on the road at any point.
Regardless, if the title song (which, still… what the hell?) is any indication, at 68 years old, Bowie can still put out music that captures the imagination, and possibly hold it hostage as it demands your money and your very sense of reality. I’m looking forward to listening to the full thing, which, yes, I’ve already pre-ordered on iTunes.