The Next Day, Bowie's surprise album of 2015, was a solid Bowie record. His best since Scary Monsters. It was also, notably, a pastiche; an exercise in self-homage, calculated to remind you of all that you had loved. Blackstar, was something else. An ending filled with so much sap and seed that it also seemed like a beginning.
A couple of days after Blackstar came out, Bowie died.
I slotted in my ear buds and spent three months listening and relistening to nothing but Bowie in forensic, chronological order. It soundtracked every hour and minute that I was not at work. Every step taken on grey and rain splashed pavements. Every tree and smoke stained brick and grass blade that smeared past in transit. I heard Bowie in my dreams. I hoped, at the end, I would be able to listen to Blackstar again. Now, I find myself at the end of this septic year and I still can't do it.
This site has been dedicated to hate; to the vituperative de(con)struction of the worst of popular music, but we did it because of love.
We did it because there are works in the world that mean the very existence of bad art is an insult to human creativity. We accept this shit and distribute it and listen to it and watch it as though it is the same thing and that is a foul travesty. It is a transgression against our collective being.
But, worst of all - the very worst thing of all - is that so very many people cannot tell the difference.
So - here is the difference.
When you listen to that bad music you like, you want to have a little dance, don't you? You remember that time the same song was playing long ago when this happened and that happened and it feels happy or sad. You don't remember loving or even liking it then, but now it's connected to your life somehow and that is its meaning. It is an earthbound, bodily experience appealing to base emotions. To nostalgia and self.
But, when you listen to the collected works of David Bowie, you are privy to the emotional and intellectual becoming of a fucking genius. You are, for a brief time, transported from a plane of existence with no colour or substance to a realm of rhizomically branching possibilities. You on David Bowie is so much more powerful than you on any drug, if you listen. If you really listen.
When I finally play Blackstar again, I will immerse myself in it. I will allow it to take me where it wants to take me; to transcend what I am and who I am. I will scream and wail and laugh in the anti-matter blackness of it and they will be the words and the saxophones and the horns. It will fashion a void from my carcass and I will live in it.
And it will be the last time I ever truly listen to a new record by David Bowie - and that is why I cannot do it.