This week marks a year since David Bowie died. Is that why I've been listening to the original cast recording of Lazarus so much?
I was fortunate enough to see Lazarus in November of 2015, thanks to some friend connections (Hi, Rebecca! You're the best!). If you're unfamiliar, Lazarus is a musical that had a short run at New York Theatre Workshop last winter (and is now, apparently, playing in London). It was loosely inspired by (and, I think, a sort-of sequel to?) the book The Man Who Fell to Earth and Bowie wrote the music and lyrics for it. Much of the music was pulled from Bowie's existing classics and some of the new stuff ended up on his last album, Blackstar. Bowie also starred in the movie version of The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1976, so this was bound to be a big, weird Bowie-fest. I went in expecting to be amazed (and wishing and praying that Mr. Bowie himself would be hovering in the back of the theater... alas, he was not).
I left the show feeling... strange. Much like my experience of watching The Man Who Fell to Earth, my takeaway was, "That was beautiful to look at, but what the fuck just happened?" I mean, it ends with Michael C. Hall and a little girl sliding around the stage in a puddle of milk, and that's not even giving anything away. I can best describe the plot as "people brooding about their existence and hallucinating." Above all of this, of course, was the overwhelming feeling that no one sings Bowie's songs better than Bowie, and that these new interpretations bordered on treason. When Bowie died a couple months later, I mostly forgot about the show and focused on Blackstar instead.
But recently, I found the cast recording on Spotify, and I'm listening to it waaaay more than I should be. I feel roughly the same way about the performances as I did when I first saw it: Michael C. Hall is trying to hard to sound like Bowie, Cristin Milioti growls too much, and the best part is the chorus and the little girl, Sophia Anne Caruso, who plays... "Girl."
But WHY? Why am I suddenly into this, over a year later? Is it because it makes me feel attached to David Bowie’s final days? Is it my forever-weakness for musical theatre, especially children with strong Annie-like voices? Probably both. I'm ashamed to admit I've been listening to Caruso’s version of “This Is Not America” nearly as much as Bowie’s version. I KNOW. I know.
I don't have a good psychological reason for all of this, so I'm going to stop judging myself and keep listening until I find a new musical obsession. Maybe it's just a January thing.
Here's the playlist:
Are you also offended but then obsessed? Let's discuss.