David Bowie: The King of Reinvention and Reincarnation
It's been five years since singer, songwriter, and starman David Bowie passed away, but on January 8, 2021, new single "Tryin' To Get To Heaven / Mother" was released. In fact, we have seen numerous new anthologies and previously unreleased music from Bowie since his death.
How is this possible?
It's actually pretty common for the estate (the beneficiaries of total assets) of a deceased artist to put out previously unreleased music; to put it simply, death stops the creation of new music but not the royalties of the old, which go to whoever holds the rights to the work. Previously unheard takes by countless legendary musicians have been released posthumously, including new materials from Nirvana, The Doors, Juice WRLD, and Michael Jackson.
While a majority of posthumous music is released by an artist's estate, David Bowie organized new music to be released after his death himself. Bowie believed in reincarnation, and through the evolution of his many different personas and music styles, he became the king of reinvention. First he was a folk singer, then a glam rocker, next he was a new romantic; He was constantly changing and evolving in both his sound and his look.
In 1973, Bowie killed Ziggy Stardust live at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. His farewell speech left the audience in complete confusion when Bowie admitted that “of all the shows on this tour, this particular show will remain with us the longest, because not only is it the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do.” This show, however, was far from the end of Bowie's career, and he soon returned to the stage as the Thin White Duke.
Privately battling cancer, Bowie released Blackstar in 2016. Though information about his failing health had not been made public yet, many fans believe that the album may have been a goodbye note. Filled with cryptic biblical undertones and references to Bowie's mortality, Blackstar was the rockstar's farewell album.
But was this Bowie's final message to the world, or merely the end of one version of himself?
"Lazarus," Bowie's last single, was a namesake for Saint Lazarus of Bethany — a Christian saint resurrected by Jesus in the Gospel of John. The enigmatic single left us with more questions than answers, but after his death, it became clear that Bowie had planned his own supernatural return, a modern-day Lazarus.
Post-mortem, Bowie has released rare recordings regularly, essentially creating one final, potentially immortal alter ego. It is unknown how much music is left to be released or when it will come out, leaving us with one lingering question:
Is this Bowie's final form?
Listen to Blackstar and "Tryin' To Get To Heaven / Mother" below, and let us know what you think.