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"Major Tom (Coming Home)"

The first time I heard "Major Tom (Coming Home)" by Peter Schilling, must have been the year the song came out - circa 1983-1984. It was originally recorded in German, and although it became an international hit in English, I think it must have been the German version that I first heard, oddly enough. I don't think I've heard that song since that time, until recently, when Shiny Toy Guns did a re-make in 2009 and it was used on the 2010 Lincoln MKZ commercial.

When I heard the commercial, I instantly remembered the song. I couldn't remember the name or the artist, but was able to eventually find it and add it to my playlist. I found the music in the song to be so beautiful - it was so uplifting and inspiring, that I found myself wanting to dance. That doesn't happen very often these days.

I had to figure out the lyrics so I could sing it. Thank goodness for Google. When I found the lyrics, I was so distressed. I'd just lost my father, and the lyrics were overwhelming. I was Really Pissed that there was such a contradiction between the music and the lyrics (there wasn't really, but that was my mindset at that time).

It really bothered me that I had remembered the song as being so beautiful, happy and uplifting, when the subject matter was of his death. I thought I'd see if I could find something on YouTube. Maybe there was a video that had been inspiring to me?

That's when I found it - a YouTube recording of the original German version of the song. When I watched that video, I was transported back in time. I was 8 years old, in my parents' living room, sitting on that blue shag rug, watching our newly acquired TV. Dad had the new remote control with its five shiny buttons. It was already pretty dark out, but my mother hadn't yet drawn the blue and turquoise curtains. Her pink scratchy chair with the orange thread, is empty and I can hear her in the kitchen; the water is running as she fills the sink to do the dishes. I can smell the remnants of the casserole she had made for dinner - in fact I can still taste it. Dad was sitting in his favourite turquoise chair, with the soft, cozy, afghan Mom had made - the one with the turquoise zigzag pattern that I loved so much.

He was watching some special on TV and I can't remember exactly what I was doing when he called me over to come and see. I remember seeing something that was an awful lot like that YouTube video. I remember loving the music, and feeling so happy when I heard it. I remember Dad being really impressed with it too; I think he really liked the originality and musicality. I was dancing and twirling around the living room, and I was just so happy to be alive. That is the place where I am taken, every time I hear that song.

It hurts so much to hear it now, because when I come back from That Place, I know that it will never be the same again, and that I can't really ever go back. That Place is gone, and I will never be that little girl again, with my Dad right beside me, listening to music that we love.

I keep hearing this song. I am haunted by this song.

The other night, the Lincoln commercial came on, and I told my husband about what I see/hear/feel/smell/taste when I hear that song, and he was amazed. Sometimes music and other things will bring back a few memories for him, but apparently I am the lucky one, or unlucky one, as is sometimes the case, who actually seems to get transported back in time for a few seconds, to relive things just as vividly as the day they happened. Does this happen to anyone else? I can't be unique in this.

Sometimes I wish I could just enjoy the song, without the flood of memories. I wish I hadn't worked so hard to remember. Be careful what you wish for.

I miss you so much Dad.

Earth below us,
drifting, falling, floating weightless
calling, calling home

I have linked this entry to the Home Game of therealljidol for topic #13 - Season 6. The prompt: Moments of Devastating Beauty. Home Game entries are here and current contestant entries are here for those who wish to read more.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 7th, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC)
You know the beautiful part about songs like this is there are just so many layers to the words and music and even the history of the characters.


When you look at the birth of "Major Tom" in David Bowie's 1969 Space Oddity you have to remember that was the decade that man first went in to space. Major Tom was living his dream...all of our dreams at that time. In the line, "And the papers want to know whose shirt you wear," 'whose shirt you wear' is English slang for 'what football team are you a fan of?'. The thinking here being that if you can make it into space then your opinions on football matter. So in that respect both "Major Tom" and "Space Oddity" were a celebration of reaching the pinnacle of mans dreams.


"Though I'm past one hundred thousand miles, I'm feeling very still. And I think my spaceship knows which way to go."

To me this bit of lyrics Space Oddity says it all

"I'm past one hundred thousand miles" - lived a long life

"I'm feeling very still" - an understanding and acceptance that death awaits us all.

"And I think my spaceship knows which way to go." - Time is a one way street. You live the life you've got because in the end there is no turning back.

And still there is more...

The Afterlife:

From David Bowie...

"Here am I sitting in my tin can far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do"

And from Peter Schilling..

"Far beneath the ship, the world is mourning.
They don't realize, he's alive.
No one understands, but Major Tom sees.
Now the light commands
this is my home, I'm coming home."

The story of life, love, death and the afterlife set to 4 minutes of moody synthesizers and techno beat.

Interestingly in 1980 David Bowie did bring Major Tom back in the song "Ashes to Ashes" where we hear a rumor from ground control:

They got a message
from the Action Man
"I'm happy, hope you're happy too."

Maybe those lyrics and memories are just a way that you can share those happy times.

p.s. Don't bother looking up the lyrics to "Ashes to Ashes". It goes off on a weird tangent from there.

Feb. 7th, 2010 07:19 pm (UTC)
David Bowie also revisited Major Tom at least once, maybe twice more.

First, in the Pet Shop Boys remix of "Hallo Spaceboy" and then in his terrific "Never Get Old" (specifically in reference to the countdown.

Feb. 7th, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was pretty surprised that Major Tom was such a recurring theme in so many artists over the past few decades. Wild!
Feb. 7th, 2010 07:42 pm (UTC)
You're absolutely right - and I was shocked to discover just how deep the rabbit hole went. I had looked into some of the other songs you're talking about, but at the time I was a bit too overwhelmed and upset to really get into them/their lyrics. Thank you so much for reminding me. And thank you for reading!
Feb. 7th, 2010 07:20 pm (UTC)
I am so glad you did a home entry! Maybe next season you will play!
Feb. 7th, 2010 07:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and thank you for reading it!

I had toyed with the idea of entering this year, but ultimately I knew that I would have problems finding time to write. Plus I'm having way more fun helping :P I'm getting to live vicariously through you ;)

If I have time to do another Home Game entry this season, I think I'm going to try my hand at fiction. You've inspired me :P
Feb. 11th, 2010 12:33 am (UTC)
I always see you thanked in joeymichael's posts.

Great, heartfelt entry.
Feb. 11th, 2010 03:15 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for coming by to read it, and for commenting!

I've been very privileged to be helping joeymichaels this season, and I feel like I've been learning a lot in the process :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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