THE MAN WITH THE WEIRD EYE
January 11, 2016
David Bowie (8th Jan 1947 – 10 Jan 2016)
It was about 2 weeks ago that I watched the video for the 10 minute long song Blackstar, the title track from the latest, and unfortunately the last, offering of David Bowie. Being an editor, and hobbyist musician, I’m often compelled by great imagery, design, colour, direction and sound. Whilst I had no idea what was going on in Blackstar, what the narrative meant, and what all the imagery symbolised, you simply couldn’t fault the originality of it compared to current trends in music video. Bowie favoured characterisation throughout his whole career – never really stuck to one type of fashion and always changed with the times, even in most cases stayed ahead of the times.
Something that made me watch the Blackstar video, and indeed the Lazurus video (another track from the new album), was Bowie wearing a blindfold with small black buttons for eyes, sort of presenting a new alter ego to us. Mixed with his long, highlighted, straight upstanding hair and worn face, it seemed like a crooked version of himself. A mixed version of all things, past, present and future with a hidden, unseen secret. It seemed like he was blind to what may come and what may be. Listening to the music he produced over the years and genres he dived into, he ends with an acoustic jazz fusion of past sounds held together with his distinct voice. To me it feels unnerving, with moments of illumination, like exploring something new but ultimately unknown. Like a mini space opera, exploring a new planet through the process of improvisation. With the videos for Blackstar, in particular the title track, you get the feeling of this being a mini musical, not just some songs that make up an album, but rather a performance of thoughts about his future and experiences of the past.
Despite me not knowing what all the imagery means in the video or having no idea of the narrative and what’s trying to be said, it’s still a dazzling watch and incredibly refreshing as far as music videos go. He was the exception amongst all bands and artists where they would focus on the music and not worry so much about their image or visa versa. Bowie, however, always seemed to accomplish both. A true musician, but also a true artist.