Major Tom lands on a “Blackstar”

Katelin Aanerud

Two years since the release of David Bowie’s comeback album The Next Day, Bowie came back with a new look, aesthetic, and outstanding album on his sixty ninth birthday, Jan. 8.

I was super excited for the new release, as this would be the first studio album of his that I could listen to the day it came out. I’ve been a fan since I was very young, but only in the last two years, right after The Next Day, did I fall head first for his range of styles and music.

This album now means even more to me, after his sudden passing, and the songs display an even more powerful message after the events of Sunday night.

The opening song, and title track “Blackstar”, is a ten minute story and is accompanied by his eerily beautiful voice and pounding beat. The song and music video both tell the continued story of his first character, Major Tom. Major Tom was originally an astronaut in the song “Space Oddity”, and then he was revealed to be a “junkie” in the 1980 classic “Ashes To Ashes”. The story was added to with the Remix version of “Hallo Spaceboy” by The Pet Shop Boys. “Blackstar” continues the series, showing the aftermath of “Space Oddity” and him advancing to the roll of a god like figure after his death. Given the background, this song is one of my favorites on the album. It shines a new light on Bowie’s abilities and lengths he’s willing to go to show who he is.

The second song is a slightly altered version of the B-Side to his 2014 single “Sue (Or In The Season Of Crime)”. “‘Tis A Pity She Was…” is a song with a heavy beat, unlike the original release. In my opinion, the original working of the song was better, though it never has officially appeared on any of his albums besides the Record Store Day exclusive 45’.

While also working on the music for a musical adaptation of the 1976 cult film The Man Who Fell To Earth, which was his first feature film, he recorded one of the songs. “Lazarus” gave the album a whole new meaning after the passing of Bowie. With lines such as “Look up here, I’m in Heaven”, it’s hard to dismiss the song as anything but a final clue to his fans. He continues the song with “Look up here, I’m in danger”, and it sends chills down your spine. Though it’s not my favorite song on the album, the emotion put in this song is remarkable and will surely not be tossed to the side with some his other recent tracks.

Like “Tis A Pity She Was…”, “Sue (Or In The Season Of Crime)” was a track that Bowie had previously released, and was reworked for this album. “Sue” was put on his latest compilation album, “Nothing Has Changed”, assuming it would be one of his new hits. The story of a man and his crumbling relationship with his wife is certainly heart wrenching, but one of his best? I would disagree.

“Girl Loves Me” has to the most different of the songs and sort of sticks out like a sore thumb with the rest of the overall chill album. Combining a wide range of slang, known as Nadsat, and extensive swearing, this is Bowie’s shout out to a book he has notoriously claimed to be his favorite: A Clockwork Orange. I have to say, though this song is different and almost pop-like, I really enjoyed it. It’s been overlooked in most other reviews, but I think this deserves a spot in a best of album, hopefully taking the place of “Sue”.

The last two songs blend so well together that I can hardly think of them as two separate songs. “Dollar Days” and “I Can’t Give Everything Away” are, next to the title track, the best part of this album. “Dollar Days” has a very steady beat and is impossible to get out of your head. I loved it the first time I heard it. Out of the entire album, I would have to say “I Can’t Give Everything Away” is the best song, and a great way to end Bowie’s long legacy. Slipping in a harmonica part and moving lyrics, this song sounds like something off his album Low. By far my favorite line would have to be “Seeing more and feeling less. Saying no but meaning yes. This is all I ever meant; This is the message that I sent.” With that, Bowie exited and there wouldn’t have been a stronger parting message from him.