How David Bowie and Leonard Cohen Braved Through Death

How David Bowie and Leonard Cohen Braved Through Death | I Love Classic Rock Videos

David Bowie - Clara Benigna / Youtube

In 1967, Leonard Cohen’s heart-wrenching lyrics in “So Long, Marianne” captured the pain of a breakup with Marianne Ihlen. Almost fifty years later, just days before her death and months before his own, Cohen penned a poignant letter to Ihlen, revealing his own impending mortality. Similarly, in the music video for David Bowie’s “Blackstar,” released shortly before his death, viewers witness a dead astronaut amidst a desolate landscape. Both Cohen and Bowie knew they were dying, and they confronted their mortality through their music and lyrics.

Cohen’s Reflection on Life and Death

Cohen’s final studio album, “You Want It Darker,” released only seventeen days before his passing, stands as a remarkable confrontation of mortality. In this profound record, Cohen fearlessly questions, pokes humor at life, and finds solace in the acceptance of his approaching end. In one interview, he openly expressed, “The big change is the proximity to death… I am ready to die.” His lyrics grapple with the paradox of suffering and invoke his readiness to face the inevitable. As the album progresses, Cohen embraces his fate, leaving listeners with the powerful declaration, “I’m ready, my lord.”

 

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Bowie’s Exploration of Mortality through Art

Throughout his career, Bowie often crafted characters in his music, only to lay them to rest when their time had come. The video for his song “Blackstar” revealed the body of Major Tom among the rocks, a potent symbol of Bowie’s personal connection to his characters. In the face of his own mortality, Bowie employed his artistry to explore and come to terms with death. The album “Blackstar” delves into various perspectives on mortality, ultimately leading to an acceptance of the inevitable. Bowie’s decision to work with a full band in the studio, in contrast to Cohen’s isolation, demonstrated his commitment to creating a shared experience with his fellow musicians.

 

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The Healing Power of Music

For both Cohen and Bowie, music became a therapeutic outlet to navigate their imminent demise. Cohen’s album is a testament to his ability to process his feelings and find humor in life’s ironies. Working closely with his son, he embraced his accomplishments and celebrated the meaningful connections he had made along his journey. Bowie, on the other hand, approached death with an introspective perspective, examining mortality from every angle. Although he chose not to explicitly reveal the album’s theme, the profound discussions on mortality within “Blackstar” resonated with fans upon its release.

Leonard Cohen and David Bowie, two legendary musicians, faced their mortality with immense courage and artistic depth. Through their final albums, they shared their journeys of acceptance, leaving behind a legacy that continues to touch the hearts of listeners. Their songs serve as a reminder that expressing one’s emotions, whether through words or music, can bring forth healing and a sense of peace. As we bid farewell to these remarkable artists, we honor their memory with the simple words, “So long, dear friends.”