Will Toledo’s (Car Seat Headrest) Favorite Lyrics of 2016 So Far Are…

On David Bowie’s last Death Album.
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As the seasons change and the end of the year creeps near, we’ve asked our contributors to pick their favorite lyrics of 2016 — so far. 
— Brenna Ehrlich, Talkhouse Music Editor-in-Chief

“Cash girls suffer me/I’ve got no enemies.”
—David Bowie, “Dollar Days,” Blackstar

Blackstar is a cheap trick: it’s only good because Bowie died after it came out. The reason that’s so cheap is that when you look at David Bowie’s canon, you realize that pretty much every album — and especially the most revered ones — was a Death Album.

It was easy to miss, him having not died after any of the other ones, but in retrospect it’s obvious. 1972, two months into the Ziggy Stardust tour, he’s found dead under mysterious circumstances in his hotel room. Shortly after the release of Station to Station, he overdoses on God knows what. Sales of Let’s Dance skyrocket when he’s tragically killed in a car accident. If Bowie’s life had ended in any of these ways — as it very well could have — the album would have told the story, etched it in the heart of public consciousness. Bowie knew that. He was writing his last album forty years before he actually wrote his last album. This is, of course, why Blackstar is not a cheap trick at all: Bowie might have been the only artist in the world to have had to approach dying from a new angle.

And the new angle is that he didn’t die any of those other times. He made it all the way to the end — far past where anyone, including himself, could have expected — into a kind of ghost world where he is well-loved and well-known, all rivalries and intimacies cooled with time and death. He has passed through every stage of the hero’s journey, and now he is the old man fading into the marketplace — except he refuses to quite fade away. As long as he’s living — which, remember, he is not any more — he is driven to chase something down. It no longer matters what; he has perfected the art of chasing into a science, broken it down into simplest transactions. There was no artist who could sell the word “suffer” the way Bowie could.

(Art credit: Dan Schmatz)

Will Toledo is the singer/songwriter/visionary of Car Seat Headrest. With Teens of Denial, his first real “studio” album with an actual band, Toledo moves from bedroom pop to something approaching classic-rock grandeur and huge (if detailed and personal) narrative ambitions, with nods to the Jonathan Richmond, Wire and William Onyeabor.