The ambiguous lyrics on David Bowie’s haunting final album initially left listeners and critics struggling to interpret their message. Now, the same people are wondering if the singer was bidding farewell with those words after receiving the cancer diagnosis he concealed from the world.
Bowie’s illness remained a secret to everyone except a handful of people until he passed away on Sunday. Little is known about it, except that even those working on projects with him in the weeks before he died were completely unaware of his condition.
In moving archive interview footage shared by the comedian Eddie Izzard on Monday, Bowie’s thoughts on life, death and ageing 14 years before he fell ill are revealed in his reflections on mortality, with Bowie describing life as “a finite thing”, and death as simply "a drag”.
Poignant interview clip - Radio 4 in Four, David Bowie: “Life is a finite thing” https://t.co/hK0qyZKo6V— Eddie Izzard (@eddieizzard) January 13, 2016
The iconic singer told the BBC he did not fear growing old and was proud of having lived a life where he did what he always wanted to do. Instead, what left him “doubled up with grief” was the thought of having to leave his daughter Alexandria.
“It’s not the age itself,” he explained. “Age doesn’t bother me. So many of my heroes were older guys. It’s the lack of years left that weighs far heavier on me than the age that I am. I feel pretty good frankly. I do what I’ve always wanted to do, I’m a writer. It’s having to let go of it all. Even now, it’s so much more poignant. For me, often, there’s such a cloud of melancholia about knowing I’m going to have to leave my daughter on her own. I don’t know what age that is going to be, thank God. It just doubles me up in grief.
David Bowie: Life in pictures
David Bowie: Life in pictures
David Bowie in 1960s
Davy Jones; life before David Bowie
David Bowie in 1964
David Bowie 'In Mime' at the Middle Earth Club, London, 1968
David Bowie in 1969
David Bowie performing his final concert as Ziggy Stardust at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, 1973
David Bowie in 1973
David Bowie, with his wife Angela (Angie) and his son Zowie, after receiving an award for his latest record "Ziggy stardust" in Amsterdam, 1974
David Bowie in the 1970s
David Bowie's son, Duncan Jones, confirmed his death on Twitter
David Bowie in the 1980s
David Bowie gives a press conference presenting the Japanese movie 'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence' directed by Nagisa Oshima, during the 36th International Film Festival in Cannes, 1983
David Bowie performs on stage during a concert in La Courneuve, 1987
David Bowie during his concert in West Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany, 1987
David Bowie shakes hands with Princess Diana, 1993
David Bowie autographs copies of his newest album 'Outside' at the grand opening of a Herald Square music store 26 September 1995 in New York
David Bowie performs at the Panathinaikos stadium in Athens during a rock festival, 1996
David Bowie and his wife, supermodel Iman smile as they pose for photos after Bowie received a star on the world famous Walk of Fame 12 February in Hollywood, 1997
David Bowie getting ready to perform 'Earthling' at the Phoenix Music Festival in 1997
David Bowie on stage performing during the Tibet House Benefit Concert in New York City, 2001
David Bowie Meltdown concert at the Royal Festival Hall, London, June 2002
David Bowie performing during his concert at the Stravinski hall stage of the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland, 2002
David Bowie in 'Last Call with Carson Daly' TV programme taping in New York, 2003
David Bowie walks with his with wife Iman and daughter Alexandria (2) in New York, 2003
David Bowie performs on stage on the third and final day of 'The Nokia Isle of Wight Festival 2004' at Seaclose Park, in Newport, UK
David Bowie poses with a pig, 2004
David Bowie and Kate Moss at the 2005 CFDA Awards dinner party at the New York Public Library in New York City, 2005
David Bowie and model Iman arrive to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, 2008
David Bowie anf Tilda Swinton at the MoMA's 6th Annual Film Benefit in New York, 2013
Flowers are left below a mural of David Bowie on the wall of a Morley's store in Brixton on 11 January 2016
“I don’t have a problem with ageing - in fact, I embrace that aspect of it. And am able to and obviously am going to be able to quite easily … it doesn’t faze me at all. It’s the death part that’s really a drag… you know? Everything else I could quite cope with.”
Tributes continue to pour in for the late artist, singer and master of reinvention. He is survived by his wife Iman, Alexandria and his son Duncan.
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