Saturday, February 11, 2006

Major Tom (1983) – Peter Schilling

(Part Two of The Moon In The Mind’s Eye tetralogy)

As “Space Oddity” redux, Peter Schilling audaciously invoked a David Bowie classic, setting himself up to fail. While “Major Tom” succeeds of its own accord, the fact that it does so despite its derivative theme is a testament to the appeal of Schilling’s adaptation.

Its pulsating synth, scraping guitar, stout bass and propulsive beat immediately distance “Major Tom” from the more deliberately paced “Space Oddity.” Schilling dwells on the details of the countdown, setting up a red herring that foreshadows a technical malfunction. As in “Space Oddity,” once in orbit, Major Tom questions the meaning of his mission. Likewise, he refuses to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, sending a farewell to his wife. To further clarify the fate of Bowie’s Major Tom, Schilling posits that he voluntarily marooned himself in orbit, perhaps suffering from dementia. What truly elevates Schilling’s version is its uplifting anthemic chorus that melodically parallels its lyrics—drifting, falling, floating. The chorus reveals a little more with each refrain, until its exultant coda is suspended in celestial background vocals, stirring the soul in a spine-tingling denouement.

  • English version not available from iTunes Music Store.
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