[I lied. There will be a bit of Bowie in this.]
When I read the news of David Bowie’s death at 6:30 am my time on Monday morning, I was shocked. A simple “rip David Bowie” was in my news feed on social media. What made it shocking was that (1) he seemed ageless, and (2) there had been so much new discussion about Bowie in the media in previous weeks. His Blackstar release was being treated as a major event by folks that say such things. Articles about his career popped up in all of the major outlets.
Once he died, it all exploded. All Bowie, All of the Time. While he had died with dignity away from the spotlight, the rats came out to gnaw on his flesh after he died. Kathy Griffin, Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, Josh Groban, Katie Holmes — whatever do they think of his passing??? Oh wait — there they are telling us. Thank God.
Once you clear out all of the debris, you are left with his legacy. In all of this meteor shower of data, Bowie’s new Lazarus video really stands out for a lot of people as a singularly fitting send off to a well crafted career. It depicted him at times strapped to a hospital bed, then penning thoughts, moving jerkily about, and finally climbing into a wardrobe and shutting the door. Like watching him slipping into death in a 3 minute music video.
Watching the video made me think of other impactful video epitaphs. Here are some notable ones:
Johnny Cash – Hurt
After a long and legendary life, Johnny Cash passed away in May 2003. The year before he had released a video of his cover of Nine Inch Nails’ song “Hurt”. The video includes imagery of the elderly Cash sitting in a museum surrounded by the trappings of his career as flashbacks iflicker in and out. Within months June Carter passed away. He was gone within four months of that date. This video is a great summary of his legacy. A classic in every way.
Joy Division – Atmosphere
A very mysterious ceremony plays out in this video send off for the too young Ian Curtis. One of the best.
Sid Vicious – My Way
This one was made before Sid’s death but will forever be thought of whenever one thinks of his short life.