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Meaning behind David Bowie's "Space Oddity"


dotel
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Welcome to Songfacts, dotel.

The song you're speaking of is called "Space Oddity", and is about an astronaut whose mission goes wrong, and he is left in space. From the lyrics, it seems 'ground control' knows all is lost, but 'Major Tom' is unaware he is going to die in space.

here are the lyrics:

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

Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five,

Four, Three, Two, One, Liftoff

This is Ground Control to Major Tom

You've really made the grade

And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear

Now it's time to leave the capsule if you dare

"This is Major Tom to Ground Control

I'm stepping through the door

And I'm floating in a most peculiar way

And the stars look very different today

For here

Am I sitting in a tin can

Far above the world

Planet Earth is blue

And there's nothing I can do

Though I'm past one hundred thousand miles

I'm feeling very still

And I think my spaceship knows which way to go

Tell me wife I love her very much she knows"

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."

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'Space Oddity' by David Bowie appears on the album of the same name and is one of Bowie's best known songs. It was supposedly inspired by the plight of the Apollo 8 astronauts.

Major Tom, the character in 'Space Oddity' was reprised by Bowie in 1980 for the song 'Ashes To Ashes'. 'Ashes To Ashes' was said to be about Bowie and his experiences/battles with drugs.

Ashes To Ashes

Do you remember a guy that's been

In such an early song

I've heard a rumour from Ground Control

Oh no, don't say it's true

They got a message from the Action Man

"I'm happy, hope you're happy too

I've loved all I've needed to love

Sordid details following"

The shrieking of nothing is killing

Just pictures of Jap girls in synthesis and I

Ain't got no money and I ain't got no hair

But I'm hoping to kick but the planet it's glowing

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky

We know Major Tom's a junkie

Strung out in heaven's high

Hitting an all-time low

Time and again I tell myself

I'll stay clean tonight

But the little green wheels are following me

Oh no, not again

I'm stuck with a valuable friend

"I'm happy, hope you're happy too"

One flash of light but no smoking pistol

I never done good things

I never done bad things

I never did anything out of the blue, woh-o-oh

Want an axe to break the ice

Wanna come down right now

My mother said to get things done

You'd better not mess with Major Tom.

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David Bowie is one of rock's great opportunists. He wrote Space Oddity to capitalize on American's fascination with space travel. He wanted to make it big in the US. When that song got some airplay and buzz, the album name was changed from Man of Words, Man of Music to Space Oddity.

Don't get me wrong, I love Bowie, and being an opportunist isn't a negative thing. In fact, it's sheer brilliance.

Rocket Man by Bernie Taupin/Elton John was meant to do the same thing...and it really did. Both of them are excellent songs.

Space Oddity was the first album I ever owned. Before that I just listened to my sister's stuff. I still can hear her saying to me, "You like that song????". Not only did I like it, but I insisted Mr. Bowie would be a big star...Take that Sis! :headphones:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just wanted to add something to this - the reading of the song as the story of an astronaut stuck in space and being left to die is a perfectly reasonable explanation and reading of the song's lyrics. But the video that accompanied the song's re-release (at least I think it was the re-release) in the early seventies had a different ending to the tale.... in the video the astronaut has found his way into a harem of lovely space ladies... and will not respond to the calls from earth because he is having such a great time. A different twist and one that Bowie himself was happy with as he starred in the video.

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well i think i'd rather be ignored than be called by the wrong name!! :P

Oh, so it´s "Joe"... sorry, I didn´t know much who he was... "Uncle Joe", then...

Gis, I was joking... :shades:

How could I ignore dear:bow: :bow: :bow: Uncle Joe? Don´t we all love love love him??? love01.giflove01.giflove01.gif

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I also edit many times, I just don´t do it when I don´t read my "preview post", like that time when, under peaches and sammy´s influence, I wrote a dirty word... :doh: :angel:

Foxy, I was really kidding ignoring Uncle John... where´s your sense of humour? :laughing:

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Rach, I'm crushed. Realy? You hadn't noticed? (sniff)

Foxy...blend into the background? LOL, yes, if it's a beige background.

Gisela, I'm fine as wine! Jemima Jojoba? That rocks! But it's kind of feminine isn't it? Donchoo be callin' me no Aunt Jemima Jojoba!!

edna, I (we all) love you, too. Too, too, too!!!

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I also edit many times, I just don´t do it when I don´t read my "preview post", like that time when, under peaches and sammy´s influence, I wrote a dirty word... :doh: :angel:

Foxy, I was really kidding ignoring Uncle John... where´s your sense of humour? :laughing:

I was joking to edna, where's your sense of humour?? :doh: :laughing:

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