Musical Appreciation

Musical Appreciation: David Bowie “Space Oddity”


Welcome back to Musical Appreciation. On January 10, we’ve lost a musical icon, an artist who is the textbook definition of artist. And of course, I’m talking about David Bowie. Ever since the late 60s, the Thin White Duke has reinvented rock music and was always ahead of his time. Dude is a trendsetter as the things he did would eventually be recreated by other artists years later. Those that came after Bowie cite him as an influence on their work and it’s not hard to see why. Today, we look at one his seminal classics. This is Space Oddity.

Space Oddity is basically a five minute movie in song form, telling the story of a fictional astronaut named Major Tom. The song details his mission to space from the moment he’s preparing for liftoff…

Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills
and put your helmet on

Ground Control to Major Tom
Commencing countdown,
engines on
Check ignition
and may God’s love be with you

…to the final moments when his ship malfunctions, implying that he might die.

Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit’s dead,
there’s something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you….

Here am I floating
round my tin can
Far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do.

Major Tom knows he’s going to die and just stares back at Earth in his last moments. It’s a very haunting song to listen to, especially now with Bowie’s passing because this man clearly knew about death and this is one of his signature songs, which deals with death. The character of Major Tom would actually be mentioned in future Bowie songs like Ashes To Ashes (where the character’s a junkie instead of an astronaut), Hallo Spaceboy, and Blackstar and would be the focus of a Peter Schilling song called Major Tom (Coming Home).

Back to Space Oddity, the instrumentation to this song is perfect for this sci-fi story combining acoustic guitars with fuzzy electric guitars and ethereal strings to add atmosphere and a sense of peril to the song. Plus, the guitar solo at the end is pretty damn great. This song is just another example of the genius of David Bowie as it was so ahead of its time as piece of sci-fi prog-rock. There will never be another David Bowie. We’ll miss your talents, man.

So that was Musical Appreciation. Next time, we talk about I Used To Love H.E.R.




High Enough To Carry You Over-CHVRCHES

Everlong-Foo Fighters

Green Onions-Booker T. & The M.G.’s