David Bowie - "I Can't Give Everything Away" (Singles Going Steady)

by PopMatters Staff

12 April 2016

This is a mesmerizing soundscape of synths with occasional flourishes of lush guitar and sci-fi effects that recall Bowie's early character of Ziggy Stardust.
 

Emmanuel Elone: Even if every album released in 2016 was great, none would be more praised than Bowie’s Blackstar, and for good reason. “I Can’t Give Everything Away”, one of the songs off of the album, is a mesmerizing soundscape of synths with occasional flourishes of lush guitar and sci-fi effects that recall Bowie’s early character of Ziggy Stardust. The rock legend’s poetic vocals, which eerily recite odd and mysterious lyrics, are crushing, as all of Bowie’s pain and emotion are felt every time he sings “I can’t give everything away”. It’s a sad sentiment, especially since he would pass away only two days after Blackstar‘s release, yet one that stands as his magnificent last hoorah in his battle against death. “I Can’t Give Everything Away” is an amazing song, and one that will keep the David Bowie persona alive for many more years to come. [9/10]
  

Pryor Stroud: A kinetic hybrid of synth-heavy new-wave and improvisatory nu-jazz, “I Can’t Give Everything Away” transplants the elegiac lyric poetry of “Lazarus” into a spacious, adult contemporary soundscape. As the valedictory track on Bowie’s farewell album, Blackstar, the music is suffused with an ineffaceable poignancy, and Bowie’s vocal—particularly his agonized enunciation of “away” in the title phrase—nearly chokes on its own gut-turning remorsefulness. Indeed, as the final electric guitar solo ushers Bowie through some darkened inter-dimensional threshold, you can hear him turn around to inspect what he’ll be leaving behind, yet despite the overwhelmingly influential gifts he’s imparted to rock, pop, art, fashion, film, and culture as a whole, his generosity seems unsatisfactory to him. Futilely, desperately, he want to leave more, but, perhaps, that is what Blackstar is, one last gift in a sequence of many gifts, living proof that while you can’t give everything away, you can always give a little bit more. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: I love Blackstar, I loved the album from the day it was released, and while this song is certainly a worthy addition to Bowie’s canon, my major complaint is that it lacks the daring experimentalism of the rest of the album. Still, the song is solidly arranged and includes lovely touches like a beautiful, jazzy sax solo and dense lead guitar reminiscent of Robert Fripp’s work with the Thin White Duke. It also works magnificently as an eloquent, if untimely, farewell. [7/10]

Chad Miller: Beautiful song with a really interesting and often surprising accompaniment line. It really allows the emotions in the piece to resonate. Lyrically, the song is simple, but it’s heartfelt. Just a great song all around. [9/10]

“‘I Can’t Give Everything Away” appears on David Bowie‘s album Blackstar.

SCORE: 8.25

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