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The Bowie, Elvis, Warhol ‘Black Star’ connection: Popism eats itself

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Like everyone else on this planet, I feel the loss of David Bowie like a black hole in my heart and this sets me searching and thinking and finding weirdness a go-go (and everything tastes nice). After watching the new video for “Lazarus,” I was left chilled to the bone as though it was recorded as he was dying, and as if he were speaking directly to me. The whole thing with UK newspapers saying there are “clues” all over Blackstar and all that “Paul is Dead” sorta stuff. Except David Bowie is dead. I mean he is dead, right? Then I was alerted to the unreleased song “Black Star” recorded by Bowie’s birth mate (everyone knows they share a birthday of course) Elvis!
 
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This track was recorded for a 1960 film that was originally to be called Black Star but that wound up being retitled Flaming Star instead.

The original recording sat in the vaults until the 1990s when it became available to the public. Besides sharing a birthday with the King of Rock and Roll, Bowie was very interested in and influenced by Elvis, too, so there would be no reason to think that he wouldn’t have been aware of this song, with its aptly chilling lyrics that could be applied to Bowie’s end of life situation…

Every man has a black star
A black star over his shoulder
And when a man sees his black star
He knows his time, his time has come

Black star don’t shine on me, black star
Black star keep behind me, black star
There’s a lot of livin’ I gotta do
Give me time to make a few dreams come true, black star

When I ride I feel that black star
That black star over my shoulder
So I ride in front of that black star
Never lookin’ around, never lookin’ around

Black star don’t shine on me, black star
Black star keep behind me, black star
There’s a lot of livin’ I gotta do
Give me time to make a few dreams come true, black star

One fine day I’ll see that black star
That black star over my shoulder
And when I see that old black star
I’ll know my time, my time has come

Black star don’t shine on me, black star
Black star keep behind me, black star
There’s a lot of livin’ I gotta do
Give me time to make a few dreams come true, black star

 
Here’s Elvis’ “Black Star”:
 

 
And Bowie’s “Blackstar”...
 

 
...with its own chilling and obscure lyrics:

In the villa of Ormen, in the villa of Ormen
Stands a solitary candle, ah-ah, ah-ah
In the centre of it all, in the centre of it all
Your eyes

On the day of execution, on the day of execution
Only women kneel and smile, ah-ah, ah-ah
At the centre of it all, at the centre of it all
Your eyes, your eyes

Ah-ah-ah
Ah-ah-ah

In the villa of Ormen, in the villa of Ormen
Stands a solitary candle, ah-ah, ah-ah
In the centre of it all, in the centre of it all
Your eyes
Ah-ah-ah

Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)

How many times does an angel fall?
How many people lie instead of talking tall?
He trod on sacred ground, he cried loud into the crowd
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar, I’m not a gangster)

I can’t answer why (I’m a blackstar)
Just go with me (I’m not a filmstar)
I’m-a take you home (I’m a blackstar)
Take your passport and shoes (I’m not a popstar)
And your sedatives, boo (I’m a blackstar)
You’re a flash in the pan (I’m not a marvel star)
I’m the great I am (I’m a blackstar)

I’m a blackstar, way up, oh honey, I’ve got game
I see right so white, so open-heart it’s pain
I want eagles in my daydreams, diamonds in my eyes
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)

Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a star star, I’m a blackstar)

I can’t answer why (I’m not a gangster)
But I can tell you how (I’m not a flam star)
We were born upside-down (I’m a star star)
Born the wrong way ‘round (I’m not a white star)
(I’m a blackstar, I’m not a gangster
I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar
I’m not a pornstar, I’m not a wandering star
I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)

In the villa of Ormen stands a solitary candle
Ah-ah, ah-ah
At the centre of it all, your eyes
On the day of execution, only women kneel and smile
Ah-ah, ah-ah
At the centre of it all, your eyes, your eyes
Ah-ah-ah

And as all things in pop culture eventually lead back to Andy Warhol, the kicker for me is that as I was looking into this I realized that all the infamous Warhol Elvis silkscreen art that you have seen your whole life is from (of course) a still photo from Flaming Star. And I don’t have to remind you that Bowie played Warhol in the 1996 film Basquiat do I? More will be revealed, I’m sure. It’s like that Kennedy and Lincoln coincidence thing, isn’t it?
 
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Posted by Howie Pyro
|
01.12.2016
07:57 pm
|
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