Liner notes. That was about it. So, much like now—an age of Bowie reissues, reprints, commemorations, anniversaries. The difference, of course, was that he was still here then, watching TV, traveling, escaping from being David Bowie for a little while. Pushing Ahead of the Dame will still be around. Whenever you discovered this site, I hope it answered a question you had about a song, or turned you on to some DB obscurity, or just distracted you from a bad work day. Thanks for stopping by. My future is 64 Quartets ; criticism pieces you can find via the Patreon ; other articles here and there.
Down the road, another book or two, I hope. See you soon. Space Oddity earliest demos, ca. December January Space Oddity single. Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola. Space Oddity Ivor Novello Awards, Space Oddity live, Space Oddity BBC, Space Oddity live, Hammersmith Odeon, Space Oddity remake. Space Oddity 50th Birthday concert, Space Oddity last live performance, 5 July Space Oddity a last snippet, March When he died, some television tributes led off with it; that night, they sang it in the streets.
An odd beginning, though. The film played there for months, mostly to the young and the altered. Clemens blinked through the immense glass port, where there was a blur of stars and distant blackness. A million miles behind us. First time I knew he was outside the ship was when his helmet-radio came on on our control-room beam. Never was any. No people. No people in all the universe.
Never were any. No planets. No stars…Only space.
Only space. Only the gap. Against this stood the American astronauts: ex-athletes and Air Force pilots with pretty, television-ready wives and scads of healthy-looking children.
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They all seemed to live on the same suburban street. The astronauts had an easy familiarity with death; they were salesmen over an abyss. The man on earth, playing his string acoustic in his room at 22 Clareville Grove in South Kensington, working up a song. After four years in pop music, David Bowie had no record contract and was reduced to a relative handful of folk and mime gigs. Though among his more lucrative jobs of the period was for a TV spot for Luv Ice Cream, his manager kept telling him that work would turn up.
So Major Tom is sent into orbit by Establishment figures who monitor him and need him to do his share of media promotion. The song ends with Major Tom ignoring his cues and walking off stage. Bowie also was writing as the first serious relationship of his life crumbled. There was a numbness in the song, a longing to sever ties and drift into the void. This would place its earliest extant demos as heard on the Spying Through a Keyhole box around the tail end of through mid-January Before the first verse starts, Major Tom is already high in space, Ground Control far below him.
The song was full of these resonances, its harmonic language telling half of the story. Shifting to E7 instead of the expected E minor brightened the song, expanded it outward.
For me, it started with Space Oddity by David Bowie—it has that semi-tone shift which fascinated me. I played it endlessly to my mum and it made me feel this yearning. Hutchinson, having left working with Bowie in the spring, would be a ghost in the single recording, his absence heightening its sense of loss and dislocation. Bowie now sang the opening verse in imitation of his former partner, harmonizing with himself in octaves. In live performances in , Mick Ronson took over harmonies.
Heard isolated in the mix, the Stylophone is a futurist police siren. They were its vocal chorus, its other string section. Gus Dudgeon, who produced the single, mapped out its recording like a battle plan much of it was cut on 20 June , but there was an overdub session a few days later.
Unable to write music, Dudgeon used colors and squiggly lines to mark where he wanted various instruments to come in, with Paul Buckmaster helpfully translating his scrawls into charts. Drumming for Pentangle at the time, Cox served the song well—a man with a funkier bent would have struggled with what was basically a pop tone poem. He subtly shifts to ride cymbal 16ths and high toms for bridges and solos.
Asked to ad lib in the outro, the two did a jazz duet, Flowers playing a roaming, chromatic line that peaked on a high A, Cox hissing his ride cymbal and retorting on his toms.costkyrktateser.tk
Is he dead, David? But it is clear that he really enjoys being on the moon. And it kept being called back for encores. It hit 1 at last. Bowie sheared the song to acoustic guitar, piano, bass and drums. Soon afterward, Bowie decided to look up Major Tom to see what had become of him. Space Oddity memorial crowd in Brixton, 11 January Space Oddity Chris Hadfield, Space Oddity Kristen Wiig, Space Oddity Flaming Lips, Space Oddity Seu Jorge, Space Oddity Gail Ann Dorsey, Once during the mission I was asked by ground control what I could see.
The Earth is so small. Vitali Sevastyanov , cosmonaut, Soyuz 9, Soyuz When I originally wrote about Major Tom, I was a very pragmatic and self-opinionated lad that thought he knew all about the great American dream and where it started and where it should stop. That gives me some reason for doing it, selfishly. Few people at the time—perhaps only David Bowie, his friends and manager—were aware of a new single that hit British record shops on Friday, the 11th of July It fit in his Ziggy Stardust scheme: a late Mick Rock promo video is Bowie as a bone-tired Ziggy, singing about his fellow lost cosmonaut.
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Its after-hours cabaret tour version is a man in a phone booth dialing himself. But it was also a silly song that got him a freak hit, and he was wary of being shackled to it. A gorgeous arrangement for Tibet House in February , with a string octet and Adam Yauch on bass someone else whose death still feels like a break in the world. And a last one-off performance later that summer in Denmark, a gift to his touring band.
The year would be remembered not for Jupiter missions but by fanatics destroying New York skyscrapers. It was a video of a man singing in a tin can that many had forgotten was out in space; Hadfield was a project manager with a glorious view from his office windows. Bowie once said Major Tom was the technocratic American mind coming face to face with the void and blanking out.
I wrote the first version of this essay in the late autumn of , with an economy in pieces and a restlessness, a potential in the air. I did a revision for Rebel Rebel in the summer of , a time that now feels stuck between stations. And as its composer said, where are we now? Bowie: lead and harmony vocals, string acoustic guitar, ocarina, Stylophone; Hutchinson: acoustic guitar, lead and harmony vocals; Colin Wood: Hammond organ, Mellotron, flute; Dave Clague: bass; Tat Meager: drums.
Bowie: lead and harmony vocal, Stylophone, string acoustic guitar, handclaps; Mick Wayne: lead guitar; Rick Wakeman: Mellotron; Herbie Flowers: bass; Terry Cox: drums; unknown musicians: piano, organ, 2 flutes, 8 violins, 2 violas, 2 celli, 2 arco basses.
Bowie: lead vocal Mogol, trans. Produced: Bowie, Tony Visconti. Live : , , , , Larry Hardesty figured out the mechanics of this song for me during book revisions. Around the time of the original entry in , Tom Ewing made mention of the blog, which got it some substantial attention and, ultimately, led to a book contract.
Angel Angel Grubby Face earlier demo, Angel Angel Grubby Face later demo, presumably Bowie sings the later demo quietly and somberly, aligned with the more intricate, bass-heavy guitar line. If he remembers her at all, it will be by the mocking nickname that he gave her under the oak tree. Recorded : early demo ca. December early spring David Bowie: lead and backing vocal, acoustic guitar; later demo summer?
Acoustic guitar: Bowie? First release : 5 April , Spying Through a Keyhole. They may well never be released. Still, instead of rumor, we now have fragments. Recorded : 12 December , Decca Studios, London. Bowie: lead vocal; John Renbourn: acoustic guitar. Produced: Mike Vernon; engineered: Gus Dudgeon. Renbourn, who was living on an old boat on the Thames in this period, co-founded Pentangle soon afterward.
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It is…not difficult to see why this track later got the chop. Recorded : ca. Bowie: lead vocal; Renbourn? Big Jim Sullivan? Produced: Vernon; engineered: Dudgeon.
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