David Bowie has died many deaths yet he is still with us. He is popular music’s ultimate Lazarus: Just as that Biblical figure was beckoned by Jesus to emerge from his tomb after four days of nothingness, Bowie has put many of his selves to rest over the last half-century, only to rise again with a different guise. This is astounding to watch, but it’s more treacherous to live through; following Lazarus’ return, priests plotted to kill him, fearing the power of his story. And imagine actually being such a miracle man—resurrection is a hard act to follow.
Though this mix of jazz, malice, and historical role-play is intoxicating, Blackstar becomes whole with its two-song denouement, which balances out the bruises and blood with a couple of salty tears. These are essentially classic David Bowie ballads, laments in which he lets his mask hang just enough for us to see the creases of skin behind it. “Dollar Days” is the confession of a restless soul who could not spend his golden years in a blissful British countryside even if he wanted to.