No. 29: David Bowie, ‘Space Oddity’ – Top 100 Classic Rock Songs
David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ has landed firmly in our Top 100 Classic Rock Songs partly because its lead character, Major Tom, has aged exceptionally well -- considering everything he’s been through.
Now in his forties, he’s gone from the dude floating around in a tin can to an iconic space-suited-survivor, and even the start of his very own children's book.
Inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ the song’s storyline captures an alluring and ultimately alarming conversation that takes place between Ground Control and astronaut Major Tom, who’s been blasted into outer space.
‘Space Oddity’ has a rich history; musically and culturally, partially thanks to its release coinciding with the actual moon landing in 1969. In fact, it was this event that motivated album producer Tony Visconti to decline getting involved with its recording.
He apparently considered the timing somewhat of a gimmick, and though he went on to produce the rest of Bowie’s self-titled album, Gus Dudgeon gets the producer credit here.
The song starts the sounds of a spaceship lifting off, a dramatic effect pulled off successfully thanks to guitarist Mick Wayne's use of a chrome-plated, cigarette lighter. Soon enough, Tom finds himself a hero in orbit, with the papers demanding to know whose shirts he wears. Of course, as well all know by now, the mission doesn't go according to plan, and our brave explorer finds himself lost -- intentionally? -- in the stars forever.
Bowie has written a number of songs that could give ‘Space Oddity’ a run for its money (including its sequel, 'Ashes To Ashes') but when it comes to picking just one, we’re sticking by the character who took his protein pills and sacrificed his own life to satisfy our innate curiosity about the worlds beyond our own.
Watch David Bowie Perform ‘Space Oddity’