Lab Tracks

Lab Track: Space Oddity

Chris Hadfield sings Space OddityAs one of his last acts on the International Space Station before touching down on terra firma tonight, astronaut and musician Chris Hadfield recorded his own take on David Bowie’s Space Oddity. The footage stands as the first music video ever recorded in space (while still leaving room for others to nab the titles of first musical performance entirely recorded in space and first fully live space-Earth musical collaboration, two firsts that a few musicians are pursuing intently). Hadfield put his own mark on the performance by adjusting a few lyrics to suit his situation, such as the switch from the science-fictiony “Take your protein pills and put your helmet on” to the more accurate “Lock your Soyuz hatch and put your helmet on.” As the original song is about a malfunction that leaves an astronaut stranded, he also changes a few lyrics to give it a more uplifting feel (“Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong” changes to “The time is near, there’s not too long,” for instance).

From what I can gather, Hadfield recorded the vocals and acoustic guitar. The track was produced and mixed by LA- and Toronto-based musician Joe Corcoran, and the phenomenal piano work was recorded by Ontario musician Emm Gryner. No word yet on the drums and electric guitar.

It’s more than a little saddening to know that we won’t be getting any more of Chris Hadfield’s amazing videos from space. I’m eager to see if he’ll continue his quest for science engagement once he’s on Earth. Here’s hoping!

Space Oddity
David Bowie
Revised by Cmdr. Chris Hadfield

(Adjustments noted)

Ground control to Major Tom
Ground control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills Lock your Soyuz hatch and put your helmet on
(Ten) Ground control (Nine) to Major Tom (Eight)
(Seven, six) Commencing countdown (Five), engines on (Four)
(Three, two) Check ignition Detach from station (One)
And may God’s (Blast off) 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
But it’s time to leave guide the capsule if you dare

This is Major Tom to ground control,
I’m stepping through the door I’ve left forever more
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
Here am I sitting in a tin can far above the world
Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can left to do

Though I’m past one hundred thousand miles, I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Before too long I know it’s time to go
Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows
A commander comes down back to earth and knows
Ground control to Major Tom,
Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong
The time is near, there’s not too long
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you…
Here am I sitting floating in my tin can
Far above the Moon
A last glimpse of the world
Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can left to do

This has been another installment of Monday Lab Tracks. Send us your musical recommendations through our contact link at the top of the page, and tell us what you think of the song in the comments below!

Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer (aka Smashley) is a saxophonist and writer living in Chicago, where she performs regularly with the funk band FuzZz and jazz ensemble Big Band Boom. She also does standup comedy, sort of, sometimes. Her tenor saxophone's name is Ladybird.

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  1. So good. =)

    I’m happy for him to be going home, but it’s bittersweet that we won’t be getting more awesome space videos from him. I feel like he really took his informal role as an educator to heart, and I hope his replacement can meet the bar he set.

  2. This video made me so damn happy. I’m seriously going to miss his daily space tweets.

    Though it would be nice if the feds would stop bleeding the CSA to death. Important enough to grace the new fiver, but not to fund, apparently.

  3. I feel like even playing the first few chords of this on a spaceship would cause panic. I know he changed the words, but the original does not end well.

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