The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday Music "Major Tom" Peter Schilling and David Bowie

  I decided to roll with this song partly because I always liked it, it has a cool beat and the video is interesting also.  We went and visited NASA at the Kennedy Space center and my inner geek did rejoice.  So since we went to NASA and saw some really cool stuff, I figured to use this song. 
    I remembered this song when it hit MTV, you know MTV...back when they played Music video's

They used an astronaut in their promo's on the TV, the flag would change colors as the music played, and you tube even has it on file...Yay...
This was back when MTV was good...before it sucked...
    Sorry I was distracted....*Ooooh  a shiney!*   Like I was saying, this song made a lot of runs on MTV, this helped push the song up to number 14 on the American charts in 1983. 

Error in the System is the first English album by German singer Peter Schilling, and is literally the English counterpart to the German album Fehler im System. The English and German version have been combined and sold as a single box set in several parts of the world.
"Major Tom (Coming Home)" (German: Major Tom (völlig losgelöst), translation: "Major Tom (totally disconnected)"), is a song by singer Peter Schilling from his album Error in the System. With a character unofficially related to "Major Tom", the theme of David Bowie's 1969 album Space Oddity, the song is about the character being caught in an accident in space.
The song was originally recorded in German, and released in West Germany on January 3, 1983. It reached #1 in West Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The English version was first released in the United States on September 24, 1983. It reached #1 in Canada, #14 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart in late 1983, and #4 in South Africa. The English-language version of the song also reached number two on the dance chart in the U.S.
In 1994, Schilling made and released a remixed version along with Bomm Bastic, titled "Major Tom 94". Another remix was released in 2000, titled "Major Tom 2000", and yet another in 2003 titled "Major Tom 2003".
Major Tom is a fictional astronaut referenced in David Bowie's songs "Space Oddity", "Ashes to Ashes", and "Hello Spaceboy" (particularly in the remix by the Pet Shop Boys). Bowie's own interpretation of the character evolved throughout his career. 1969's "Space Oddity" depicts an astronaut who casually slips the bonds of the world to journey beyond the stars. In the 1980 song "Ashes to Ashes," Bowie reinterprets Major Tom as an oblique autobiographical symbol for himself. Major Tom is described as a "junkie, strung out in heavens high, hitting an all-time low". This lyric was interpreted as a play on the title of Bowie's 1977 album Low, which charted his withdrawal following his drug abuse in the United States. 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.

In 1983, Peter Schilling continued the story of Major Tom in his hit single "Major Tom (Coming Home)". Other artists who have subsequently made substantial contributions to the Major Tom story include K.I.A. and The Tea Party, among others. 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!"

In "Space Oddity", from the 1969 album David Bowie (later retitled Space Oddity), Major Tom's departure from Earth is successful and everything goes according to plan. At a certain point during the travel ('past one hundred thousand miles'), he thinks that "my spaceship knows which way to go" and proceeds to say "Tell my wife I love her very much." Control then informs him, "Ground Control to Major Tom: your circuit's dead, there's something wrong" and attempts to reestablish contact with Major Tom. Tom's final words in the song (possibly not heard by Ground Control) are: "Here... am I floating in my tin can, far above the Moon. Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do."
In the 1969 music video version, David Bowie plays as Major Tom, Ground Control (GC), and the Countdown Announcer. When the lyrics "And the stars look very different today" are said, two lovely women appear, portraying either angels or aliens, or perhaps both. The moment "Though I'm past one hundred thousand miles, I'm feeling very still" are said, the two women can be seen removing Major Tom's helmet and spacesuit. Later a still fully outfitted Major Tom can be seen spinning around in space, with a panicked Ground Control attempting to contact him; the spinning Major Tom is either the reality of the situation, or Ground Control's imagination. The music video ends with Major Tom sitting in his tin can, far above the Moon, with the two women by his side in a ménage à trois style.
In 1980, Bowie created a sequel entitled "Ashes to Ashes". The song was a Number 1 hit single and also appeared on his Number 1 LP Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). The song doesn't actually say much about Major Tom, except to call him a "junkie" (slang for a person with a heroin addiction or other compulsive habit). The context of the lyrics seems to indicate that the song is mainly about Bowie's own soul searching, rather than a literal continuation of the Major Tom story. There is an inclusion of saying "strung out in heavens high, hitting an all time low" referring to him getting high on heroin, while his life is low.

In Peter Schilling's 1983 song "Major Tom (Coming Home)" Tom sends a final message, "Give my wife my love..." with no transmissions back to Earth from that point. He then declares that he's "coming home", being commanded by the light, which can be taken to refer to the afterlife. The associated music video also shows an object falling back through the atmosphere, presumably either Major Tom or his ship. In this song the word "light" in "now the Light commands" is often heard or transcribed as "life" but the liner notes of the Error in the System LP (and the original German) confirm the word "light." The German-language version "Völlig losgelöst" is contained in Schilling's 1983 German LP Fehler im System. Both albums also contain a different song without lyrics entitled "Major Tom, Part II". In 1994, Schilling teamed with Bomm-Bastic to record a sped-up Techno-Trance Mix of "Major Tom (Coming Home)" that was released in English and German versions under the EP title of Major Tom '94. A recent cover, renamed "Major Tom", was released in 2009 by the American rock band Shiny Toy Guns and later featured in a commercial for the Lincoln MKZ.


  1. Thanks for the backstory. I wasn't aware of that!

  2. Thanks for the backstory. I wasn't aware of that!

  3. Wow that takes me back some years. Great info. Never knew some of that.