The late David Bowie spent the last months of his life dedicated to the works of art he would leave behind, including Blackstarhis off Broadway stage production Lazarus, and two music videos aptly titled "Blackstar" and "Lazarus." Producer and longtime friend, Tony Visconti​, recently said, "He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift." In a new interview with the New York Times, other prominent Bowie collaborators discussed the many messages the late legend left for us.

Certain collaborators, including Visconti, knew of Bowie's illness, but many others did not. The director of the Lazarus production, Ivo van Hove, was one of the few aware. "The production of Lazarus, and also this new album, Blackstar, when you look at them both, you find so many lines and phrases that meant so much more than people knew before today," he said. "It’s like two testaments. The song is a man in total distress, and then finding a way out, in his imagination, so he could still be alive, in freedom, as a bluebird. It’s the message of the whole show." 

Lazarus lead Michael C. Hall said none of the cast knew about his condition, but thought Bowie was delivering a clear message in his "Lazarus" video. "It’s obviously made by a man who knows what he’s up against and is turning it into something so vital and profound."

In the wake of his death, Blackstar feels rich and layered with meaning that has become clearer since his passing. Although Bowie's type of cancer has not been confirmed, journalist Michael Azerrad notes that a "black star" is a medical term for a type of cancer lesion. In science, a black star is the transitional state between a collapsing star and a singularity. Another fan points out that Elvis Presley used "black star" as a metaphor for the reaper in his song. Read the full interview with Bowie's collaborators to unpack more of the hints he left behind at the New York Times. You can also read some of our final thoughts on David Bowie and his last works here.