David Bowie’s signature song, and the one he takes to his resting place, is “Space Oddity”, and somewhere deep in space, the soundwaves that long ago emitted from a radio station on Earth will reach a distant world. Will there be anyone on that world to hear the ballad of Major Tom and how he surrendered to the unpredictable and unknown nature of outer space? Will they send back a response song to Earth that may or may not still be there thousands of years from now?
That of course is one of my top favorite songs of all time because it was written just before the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969. Houston control decided not to play the song over the speakers until the mission was proven successful, which of course it was. David Bowie wrote the lyrics to the song predicting what would happen when men flew to the moon. It was predicted as ending in tragedy. Before it was released, critics of Bowie worried that the song would be seen as a promotional stunt for the mission.
I find it a bit ironic (or maybe it’s a just a coincidence) that Bowie died at the age of 69, a number obviously symbolic with space travel as if the universe knew all along.
Chris Hadfield’s cover of it aboard the ISS is simply beautiful. It was recorded in 2013 and was the very first music video shot in space. The shots of the Earth and the space station outside are unbelievable. The lyrics were updated to change the ending from the astronaut dying to a heroic mission.
I see Earth! It is so beautiful!I could have gone on flying through space forever.– quote by Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space
If I were stuck in space and had nowhere to go and my ending was inevitable, I’d think of Earth and so much that I’d miss. All the animals and plants, the air that I freely breath, the joy of seeing the sun rise over the trees every morning, the comfort of the moonlight. Of course, there are things I’d not miss like all of the greedy people and violence happening all the time.
If it were a trip to Mars, and there was no return to the home planet, I would feel a disconnect and vulnerability but after living on the Red Planet for a while and getting used to the environment, the homesick feeling wouldn’t be so bad. Seeing the blue marble disappear slowly into the background would have a way of making me feel how small we all are in general. For there is so much more to see beyond our shallow borders of ignorance.