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Space Oddity
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Space Oddity

"Space Oddity" is a song by David Bowie, about a spaceman named Major Tom who has "really made the grade" who talks with ground control until some unkown disaster strikes. It was released on the album of the same title in 1969 to coincide with the Apollo 11 moon landing. The BBC even featured the song in its television coverage of the event.

There are many takes on the meaning of the song, a common one being self-destruction and estrangement from humanity. Major Tom's cryptic last message, "Though I'm past one hundred thousand miles / I'm feeling very still / And I think my spaceship knows which way to go / Tell my wife I love her very much," suggests that he is still alive and well and choses to kill his circuit to ground control.

Bowie himself suggests this interpretation with his 1980 follow up to "Space Oddity," "Ashes to Ashes". Ground control eventually receives a message from Major Tom saying, "I'm happy, hope you're happy too" and "I've loved all I've needed to love" but the people of earth think that he is a "junkie, strung out in heaven's high," but hittting "an all-time low." The song comes after Bowie's battle with drugs in the 1970s. In account of "Ashes to Ashes", Major Tom's communication failure could be reinterpreted as losing human contact due to drugs.

Of course, the song also could just be a powerful narrative, similar to Stanley Kubrick's , just released in 1968. The title "Space Oddity" is, after all, an obvious spoof of the movie.

Elton John's "Rocketman" seems to allude to Major Tom, though not by name. It tells of an unnamed astronaut who is lonely in space, who's "not the man they think I am at home". Bowie would seem to cement this analogy when in a live performance of "Space Oddity" on the "David Bowie BBC Sessions 1969-1972" released in 1996 he sings, "Oh Rocketman!"

In 1983, the German pop singer Peter Schilling released a sort of sequel, "Major Tom."

In the 2002 movie Mr. Deeds, Adam Sandler performed "Space Oddity".

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