Friday, June 12, 2009

Ground Control to Major Tom [Re-Post, links removed]

[EDIT: DMCA takedown on the original post... first one in 6 months. Re-posted minus the linkage. No more Bowie I'm guessing.]

Today the sci-fi film Moon is out in limited release, unfortunately not here. I've been really keen on seeing it since hearing some buzz from Sundance, even though I've been avoiding previews and reviews like the swine flu. From what I know, it's about an astronaut (Sam Rockwell) alone on a lunar base nearing the end of his three year contract with his HAL-like computer/robot companion voiced by Kevin Spacey, an appropriate casting choice since he's been nearly unwatchable for the past 10 years. I'm thinking (or hoping for) 2001: A Space Odyssey + robot sidekick from Beneath a Steel Sky meets Space Oddity. Isolation and mindbendiness ensue. It's the debut feature film by director/co-writer Duncan Jones. If that name doesn't ring any bells, he has previously gone by Zowie Bowie. That's right, he is Son of David Bowie. Now if you mentioned that in an interview, would he become belligerent and bring up Tom Petty?

Major Tom has had a storied history in song since being introduced in Bowie's Space Oddity, released a five days before the launch of Apollo 11 in 1969. Bowie also revisited the fictional astronaut in Ashes to Ashes and Hallo Spaceboy. German artist Peter Schilling scored a 1983 hit with Major Tom (Coming Home), which is sort of a sequel song (can you think of others?). More recently, the car company Lincoln built an ad campaign around the Major Tom theme featuring covers of both Space Oddity by Cat Power and Major Tom (Coming Home) by Shiny Toy Guns. Alas, Cat Power only recorded the 30-second cover and there is no full-length version. Is Moon the next chapter of Major Tom's saga, at least in spirit?

Ground control to Major Tom,
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

Pitch Black Dream - Space Oddity [originally by David Bowie]
From the now out-of-print CD compilation Spiders from Venus: Women Cover David Bowie. A faithful rendition, but there are enough twists to make it interesting.

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know Major Tom's a junkie
Strung out in heaven's high
Hitting an all-time low

Kevin Kane - Ashes to Ashes (feat. Veda Hille) [originally by David Bowie]
A stripped down acoustic cover from Vancouver-based artist Kevin Kane's 2001 out-of-print covers album Timmy Loved Judas Priest (it is available digitally on iTunes). He's joined on back-up vocals by local artist Veda Hille.

Tripod - Ashes to Ashes/Space Oddity [originally by David Bowie]
A live medley from Australian comedy music act Tripod.

Back at ground control,
there is a problem.
Go to rockets full;
Not responding.

"Hello Major Tom,
are you receiving?
Turn the thrusters on.
We're standing by."

There's no reply.

Räubertöchter - Major Tom (I'm Coming Home) [originally by Peter Schilling]
A solid punk rock cover from the volume 4 of the Punk Chartbusters series.

Hallo Spaceboy, you're sleepy now
Your silhouette is so stationary
You're released but your custody calls
And I want to be free
Don't you want to be free?

Do you like girls or boys?
It's confusing these days
But Moondust will cover you
Cover you

Pagan's Mind - Hallo Spaceboy [originally by David Bowie]
A throbbing metal cover by Norwegian band Pagan's Mind.

David Bowie - Hallo Spaceboy (Pet Shop Boys Remix)
Pet Shop Boys are coming to Vancouver in September and tickets are on sale today. Though I haven't really listened to any of their new albums in the past 15 years, Discography, one of our family's first CDs, is an all-time favourite. Many of the tracks like Jealousy, Left to My Own Devices, Being Boring, and What Have I Done to Deserve This? get plenty of regular spins on the iPod, not to mention their stellar updates of Always on My Mind and Where the Streets Have No Name. That reminds me of a Pet Shop Boys cover post I've got to do someday. I was debating whether to splurge on a primo seat (they're playing at The Centre) and I'm leaning towards YES. I scoured some recent setlists and I'm satisfied that I'll hear a fair chunk of songs I actually know. Ironically, it's been five years since I missed out on seeing David Bowie in Edmonton by choice. That's my one big concert regret that I keep kicking myself over and the exact point I vowed not to miss concerts for stupid reasons like indecisiveness (or money, ha ha).

1 comment:

Dane said...

Ooh, DMCA takedowns are roaring back, eh? Not cool. Especially because this is a really interesting post.

Been a fan of yours for a while now.