Saturday, November 20, 2010

space oddity

thirty five years ago david bowie really made the grade and reached the top of the charts. inspired by stanley kubrik's 2001: a space odyssey, his tale of astronaut major tom and his freefloating disconnection from ground control left us all floating in a most peculiar way.

'space oddity' was recorded and rush-released to coincide with the lunar launch in 1969. the bbc played it during their live broadcast of the launch and it was featured in advertisements for the stylus operated synthesizer that he played on the song. rick wakeman played mellotron. it made it to number five in the uk; but stalled out in the states. due to the single's popularity, it became the title track of his second album.

when that album was re-reissued in the states, the single made it to number fifteen in 1973 and became his first us hit. this prompted a re-issue in the uk in 1975, becoming bowie's first number one single.

some have speculated that the song is a metaphor for intravenous drug use. bowie admitted to "a silly flirtation with smack" in the late sixties. he made this more explicit when he revisited the character five years later in his number one hit 'ashes to ashes' with the refrain "we know major tom's a junkie." he said his "eternal" goodbye to the character and "sweet space love" fifteen years later in the song 'hallo spaceboy,' which answers the complaint that "the chaos is killing me" with "moondust will cover you."

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