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Space Oddity

Space Oddity

David Bowie
David Bowie

Song Meaning and Background of Space Oddity by David Bowie

Bowie’s breakout song “Space Oddity” was heavily influenced by Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking 2001: A Space Odyssey, rather than the actual 1969 moon landing that coincided with its original release.

“It was picked up by the British television, and used as the background music for the landing itself,” Bowie said. “I’m sure they really weren’t listening to the lyric at all. It wasn’t a pleasant thing to juxtapose against a moon landing.”

Crucially, it became Bowie’s first major hit.

"Space Oddity" is a song by the English singer-songwriter David Bowie. It was first released on 11 July 1969.

It is a tale about a fictional astronaut named Major Tom; its title and subject matter were partly inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey released in 1968 and Bowie's feelings of alienation at that point in his career.

Rush-released as a single to capitalise on the Apollo 11 Moon landing, it received critical praise and was used by the BBC as background music during its coverage of the event. It initially sold poorly but soon reached number five in the UK on it’s original release in 1969, but was re-released in 1975 and reached number one.

Bowie said, "I went stoned out of my mind to see the movie and it really freaked me out, especially the trip passage"

"Space Oddity" tells the story of an astronaut named Major Tom, who is informed by Ground Control that a malfunction has occurred in his spacecraft but Major Tom does not get the message because he either misses it or is in such awe of outer space he does not hear it.

He remains in space "sitting in a tin can, far above the world", preparing for his lonely death.

In 1969, Bowie compared Major Tom's fate to the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey, saying: "At the end

of the song Major Tom is completely emotionless and expresses no view at all about where he's at. He's fragmenting ... at the end of the song his mind is completely blown – he's everything then."


 Lyrics of Space Oddity by David Bowie

Ground Control to Major Tom

Ground Control to Major Tom

Take your protein pills and put your helmet on



Ground Control


To Major Tom

(Eight, seven, six)

Commencing countdown


Engines on

(Four, three, two)

Check ignition


And may God's love


Be with you


This is Ground Control to Major Tom

You've really made the grade

And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear

Now it's time to leave the capsule if you dare


This is Major Tom to Ground Control

I'm stepping through the door

And I'm floating in a most peculiar way

And the stars look very different today


For here am I sitting in a tin can

Far above the world

Planet Earth is blue

And there's nothing I can do


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

She knows


Ground Control to Major Tom

Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong

Can you hear me, Major Tom?

Can you hear me, Major Tom?

Can you hear me, Major Tom?

Can you he—


Here am I floating 'round my tin can

Far above the Moon

Planet Earth is blue

And there's nothing I can do

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David Bowie


Gus Dudgeon



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