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Song IconDavid Bowie "Major Tom"

About "Major Tom"

Major Tom is a persona of David Bowie's, referenced in songs "Space Oddity", "Ashes to Ashes", "Hallo Spaceboy", and "Blackstar." Bowie's own interpretation of the character evolved throughout his career. "Space Oddity" (1969) depicts an astronaut who casually slips the bonds of the world to journey beyond the stars. In the song "Ashes to Ashes" (1980), Bowie reinterprets Major Tom as an oblique autobiographical symbol for himself. Major Tom is described as a "junkie, strung out in heaven's high, hitting an all-time low". This lyric was interpreted as a play on the title of Bowie's album Low (1977), which was inspired by the withdrawal symptoms he suffered while undergoing treatment for drug addiction. Additionally, the choked and self-recriminating tone used in the lyrics "Time and again I tell myself I'll stay clean tonight" reinforces an autobiographical and retrospective interpretation. A short time later, there is another reversal of Major Tom's original withdrawal, turning 'outwards' or towards space.German singer Peter Schilling retold and continued the story of Major Tom in his late 1982 release "Major Tom (völlig losgelöst)", which reached number one in Germany and Austria in early 1983. The English-language version, "Major Tom (Coming Home)", peaked at number 14 in the United States in late 1983. Other artists who have subsequently made substantial contributions to the Major Tom story include K.I.A. ("Mrs. Major Tom"). Due to some similarities in Elton John's "Rocket Man", there is a possible connection between the Rocket Man and Major Tom, a connection notably made by Bowie himself, who while singing "Space Oddity" in concert would sometimes call out, "Oh, Rocket Man!"

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