David Bowie dead: Swansong 'Lazarus' takes on poignant new meaning in lyrics and music video

'Look up here, I'm in heaven'

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

David Bowie's unexpected death from cancer at 69 has inspired a flood of tributes from the music world and sparked many to look more closely at his final song, “Lazarus”.

The track's haunting music video was released just last week, showing Bowie hospital-bound, lying on a deathbed with his eyes bandaged, writhing around and singing about being “free just like that bluebird”. So was the “Space Oddity” icon expressing his thoughts on his own imminent death with his swansong 27th album Blackstar?

It seems likely, the opening line of “Look up here, I'm in heaven” taking on poignant new meaning following the sad news confirmed on Monday morning.

Scenes of Bowie frantically writing while clearly heavily tormented are harrowing to watch in the video, which ends with the singer retreating into a wardrobe and closing the door behind him, seemingly bidding farewell as death finally comes for him. 

Fans have been sharing the third verse's lyrics “This way or no way, you know I'll be free” in tributes on social media.

The name Lazarus is commonly used in pop culture to refer to the restoration of life and there have been numerous uses of it in art and literature. 

Lazarus of Bethany is the subject of one of Jesus's most prominent miracles in the Bible's Gospel of John. Lazarus is brought back to life four days after his burial, proving the power of Jesus over humanity's greatest and most merciless enemy: death.

“This sickness will not end in death,” Jesus tells his followers after learning that Lazarus is ill. “No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”

Bowie could easily be describing himself as Lazarus, knowing that his musical legacy will transcend his death. After all, “he's got drama, can't be stolen, everybody knows him now”.

David Bowie dies aged 69

'Lazarus' lyrics in full

Look up here, I’m in heaven

I’ve got scars that can’t be seen

I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen

Everybody knows me now


Look up here, man, I’m in danger

I’ve got nothing left to lose

I’m so high it makes my brain whirl

Dropped my cell phone down below

Ain’t that just like me


By the time I got to New York

I was living like a king

Then I used up all my money

I was looking for your ass


This way or no way

You know, I’ll be free

Just like that bluebird

Now ain’t that just like me


Oh I’ll be free

Just like that bluebird

Oh I’ll be free

Ain’t that just like me