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BowieTalk
   >> Interpretation
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guiltpuppy
(wild eyed peoploid)
06/16/03 11:51 PM
The Major Tom saga: Just how many songs are there?  

Inspired by zgylbyslvgrl_016's thread on the Everyone Says Hi/Ashes to Ashes connection, I'm wondering if anyone has any other ideas what Bowie songs might reasonably fit into the whole theme or narrative of Ashes to Ashes and Space Oddity?

I've got this preliminary list below, but I want to hear some more ideas, some more cases for and against... I doubt any real conclusions will be drawn for this, but if we get a strong dozen or so songs going, then hey, it'll make for a great comp disc to burn :)

Starting off, the obvious:

Space Oddity
Ashes to Ashes

No contesting these ones. Another almost-clear one is:

Hallo Spaceboy (Pet Shop Boys remix)

Which has an explicit reference, but it's not a Bowie addition so its place is a little dubious.

Next are the kind of iffy ones:

Starman
Everyone Says Hi

Everyone Says Hi, well, is a different discussion, and I only include it because it's been proposed already. The thread's still active -- check it out if you like.

As for Starman, under my personal interpretation of the album it makes a reference to the song Space Oddity -- that is the song the narrator (who, in my interpretation, is David Bowie or more accurately David Jones -- the person behind the persona) hears on the radio. This all stems from my view that the album is a record of his own experience in becoming famous, and the sense of alienation he began to feel from himself -- Space Oddity, his first hit, fits perfectly into that place on the album, when he first becomes aware of and awestruck at this new celebrity (who is him)... Under other interpretations, it's less clear, but still possible if you look at the song as being about rockstardom.

Note the way he describes the song: "Then the loud sound did seem to fade / Came back like a slow voice on a wave of phase / That weren't no D.J. that was hazy cosmic jive"... To me at least, that sounds like a good description of Space Oddity.

In any case, I'd like to hear some others, and some issues perhaps with the ones already suggested.




poorsoul
(crash course raver)
06/17/03 02:54 AM
Hows About...? new [re: guiltpuppy]  

The Prettiest Star - a passionate lament about Bowie's girlfriends who happens to be a giant, burning ball of gas.

It's got nothing to do with you, if one can grasp it

guiltpuppy
(wild eyed peoploid)
06/17/03 04:35 AM
Re: Hows About...? new [re: poorsoul]  

I don't know how Angie would take to being called a gaint, burning ball of gas, but the song can easily be interpreted to fit into the Major Tom narrative and the drug abuse / identity destruction phase, so sounds good!



Chaos Mage
(mortal with potential)
06/17/03 01:11 PM
Re: The Major Tom saga: Just how many songs are there? new [re: guiltpuppy]  

I always thought that Starman was about Ziggy. Wasn't he supposed to be an alien? Maybe I'm confused.


========
Z8

RabbitFighter
(cracked actor)
06/17/03 02:10 PM
Re: The Major Tom saga: Just how many songs are there? new [re: guiltpuppy]  

According to Strange Fascination Carlos Alomar was sure that Loving the alien had "something" to do with Major Tom.

My only vice is the fantastic prices I charge for being eaten alive


T.J. Newton
(acolyte)
06/17/03 07:25 PM
Could it be? new [re: RabbitFighter]  

In reply to:

According to Strange Fascination Carlos Alomar was sure that Loving the alien had "something" to do with Major Tom.


No kidding! That's extremely surprising. What exactly does the book say?

Like a soul without a mind
In a body without a heart
I'm missing every part


LaughingGnoome
(electric tomato)
06/17/03 07:47 PM
Re: Could it be? new [re: T.J. Newton]  

In reply to:

No kidding! That's extremely surprising. What exactly does the book say?


pg 420

Alomar:

"I was able to find a lot of good cuts that i enjoyed. "Loving The Alien", I love that song, and because it had to do with Major Tom, we really gave it some thought"

My own personal opinion (I am now reading this same biography) is that Alomar is mistaken. He probably saw the title 'Alien' and assumed it had something to do with M Tom or something like that, but it is interesting and i suppose possible...bit weird though, what with all the quasi religious and historical/political lyrics in the song.




LaughingGnoome
(electric tomato)
06/17/03 09:33 PM
Re: The Major Tom saga: Just how many songs are there? new [re: guiltpuppy]  

Bowie is renowned for regurgitating everything (sooner or later), and this includes fictional characters like poor old Major Tom.

I believe that with Ashes To Ashes, Bowie chose Tom, because Tom was an astronaut, an astronaut is an ultra fit ultra healthy ultra squeeky clean living character, an American institution in an age where the Space Program had to be sold to the public in an appealing way. So taking that character and turning him into a useless junkie makes for a very powerful statement. I recall a quote from someone influential in the late sixties heralding in Bowie as a new kind of musician who wouldnt be tainted by drug abuse or sexual excesses.

In reply to:

Space Oddity, his first hit, fits perfectly into that place on the album, when he first becomes aware of and awestruck at this new celebrity (who is him)...


I agree although Bowie wasnt a star then, but perhaps he could almost taste it...."And the stars look very different todaaaaayyy". The astronaut was a new kind of celebrity in 1969, so Bowie draws some comparisons.





Kaoru
(mortal with potential)
06/18/03 01:13 AM
Re: The Major Tom saga: Just how many songs are there? new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

I know for a fact that there're two Major Tom songs,and seemingly there are about 4 more.I didn't know Ashes to Ashes was a Major Tom song though.

Shine,bright morning light now in the air the spring is coming.Sweet blowing wind singing down the hills and valleys.Keep your eyes on me,now we're on the edge of hell.Dear my love,sweet morning light,wait for me you've gone much farther,too far.

T.J. Newton
(acolyte)
06/18/03 03:13 AM
It's gonna follow you for a long time new [re: Kaoru]  

In reply to:

I know for a fact that there're two Major Tom songs,and seemingly there are about 4 more.I didn't know Ashes to Ashes was a Major Tom song though.


Did you know that it wasn't really written by Bowie and is 16-minute long?

Like a soul without a mind
In a body without a heart
I'm missing every part


zimmo
(wild eyed peoploid)
06/18/03 04:50 AM
Re: The Major Tom saga: Just how many songs are there? new [re: guiltpuppy]  

i always thought baby universal also belonged to major tom
-failures as fathers mothers of chaos-
-the baby birth, the baby of the universe, whos seen everything anyways ,but got a spec of dust into his eye (moondust?) after the ashes to ashes "death"- and he says that he is back" hello humans"
also the background voice sounds a bit like the sound of a ground control room -



DanaLV
(wild eyed peoploid)
06/18/03 10:40 AM
Re: The Major Tom saga: Just how many songs are there? new [re: guiltpuppy]  

Maybe it's a little bit offtopic, but I read in Brian Molko (Placebo) interview year or two ago, that one of their songs was somehow connected with Major Tom. Don't remember which song it was, but there was a line "who is uncle Tom?" and Brian Molko said it was about Bowie's Major Tom.

dreaming my life away....

nigelp
(crash course raver)
06/18/03 04:52 PM
Re: The Major Tom saga: Just how many songs are there? new [re: DanaLV]  

...and don't forget Major Tom's Coming Home by Peter Schilling

The following is taken from an 80's website about Peter Schilling (http://www.80smusiclyrics.com/artists/peterschilling.htm - cut and pastei t yourself, I'm too lazy to make it clickable tonight)
Originally released in 1969 to coincide with the first moon landing, David Bowie's "Space Oddity" was hardly a celebration of man's efforts to reach the stars. The song tells the story of Major Tom, an astronaut who has "really made the grade," and the eyes of the world are on him as he is about to be blasted into space. But Major Tom's solo trip ends in tragedy, as he mysteriously informs ground control that "I'm feeling very still, and I think my spaceship knows which way to go. Tell my wife I love her very much..." There are a number of takes on this early Bowie classic. One is that this is a song about self-destruction, a theme Bowie would return to in "Rock and Roll Suicide" and on his "Station to Station" album. Clearly Major Tom's demise seems to have been less an accident than a conscious decision to detach himself from the planet below. His circuit abruptly goes dead after his cryptic message to his wife, though there is little doubt that he is still conscious and in some degree of control. Bowie himself may have shed light on the meaning of the song in 1980 with his follow-up, "Ashes to Ashes." It seems that some time after the disappearance of Major Tom ground control receives a message from the wayward astronaut: "I'm happy, hope you're happy too... I've loved all I've needed to love..." The opinion on earth seems to be that Major Tom is a "junkie, strung out in heaven's high," but hittting "an all-time low." The song is telling in the wake of Bowie's own battle with drugs, a struggle which saw him losing in the mid '70s as his body - like that of Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger, and other contemporaries - was showing clear signs of abuse. In the light of this later song, it would seem that Major Tom is a man who has made the painful transtition from a feel-no-pain drug-cowboy to a strung-out junkie desperate to come back down to earth. Peter Schilling's 1983 hit "Major Tom (I'm Coming Home)" is an excellent early '80s revision of the original "Space Oddity," complete with a techno beat and the obligatory synth work. It is logical that such a work should come from a German artist, as much of Bowie's drying-out period was spent in Berlin. Just as Bowie became an important influence on German musicians, Bowie's work in the late '70s was heavily influenced by his experiences in Germany, from his "Heroes" album disparagingly championing lovers devided by the Berlin Wall, to his soundtrack for a German film about young Berlin heorine addict "Christiane F."

I'm invisible and dumb,
no-one will recall me


revidescent
(crash course raver)
06/18/03 10:14 PM
Re: It's gonna follow you for a long time new [re: T.J. Newton]  

En réponse à:

Did you know that it wasn't really written by Bowie and is 16-minute long?


What the hell are you talking about??? *Doesn't get it*

Andrée-Anne

Would you carry a razor just in case of depression?

T.J. Newton
(acolyte)
06/19/03 09:18 AM
Let me explain new [re: revidescent]  

In reply to:

What the hell are you talking about??? *Doesn't get it*


In the Alphabet Bowie Survivor thread Karou said that Warszawa wasn't written by Bowie and lasts for 16 minutes. And because I'm being very vicious, I made a hint which refered to Karou's igorant statement

Like a soul without a mind
In a body without a heart
I'm missing every part



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