Michaeline: David Bowie in the Stars

An astronaut in an untethered spacesuit floating above the Earth's clouds and oceans.

“Floating in a tin can” — space is an incredible setting for a variety of stories. Image via Wikimedia Commons

The world lost a great storyteller this week when David Bowie died on January 10, 2016. The man wasn’t limited – he could tell a tale in visuals, in music, in lyrics and with his body. He was a great genius, and one of his last stories, “Lazarus” (YouTube link), showed that he wasn’t done yet. I read on the internet that before his death, the songs from his new album Blackstar were a bit weird. But from personal experience, I can say that seeing “Lazarus” after his death was one of the most powerful video experiences I’ve ever had. We see his struggles, and they are all the more beautiful and poetic because we know the end of the story. And his aesthetic is as sharp as it ever was. The video is shot in shades of old wood and clean that remind us of the past, but don’t burden us with it.

I wanted to take a look at one of his great songs, “A Space Oddity.” (YouTube link to live version) This is the story of Major Tom, an astronaut who wins the admiration of the entire earth, but then winds up dying alone in space. What a downer! I don’t generally like this kind of story, but in this case, there’s the beautiful music that holds my hand and keeps me from running away from this dark, dark vision.

That’s the surface. Beneath, was something else. During a 2002 interview, John Wilson (a BBC interviewer, link to BBC here) asked Bowie, “What is it with spaceships?” Continue reading