The death of David Bowie impacts us all. When we lose a great artist, we lose part of ourselves.
Only weeks before the passing of this creative genius, I was fortunate enough to sit down with astronaut Chris Hadfield, who is famous for covering the legendary Bowie song Space Oddity in space.
In this clip you hear Chris talk about the visionary power of David Bowie.
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Space Oddity was written before human beings had landed on the moon, but Bowie’s eerily accurate song captures the thrill and the loneliness of what it must be like to look down upon planet earth from the heavens.
Chris talks about how just singing the song in a different environment opened up new resonances for him, made him think about himself and his job in a completely different way.
When you watch the video Chris made in space, you get a real insight into what it must be like to be confronted by your own insignificance in the vastness of space, to be part of something much bigger than yourself. Chris told me that the power of the song brought out the human element of space travel, and opened people’s minds to the fact that life in a space station is more than just a dry, lonely, scientific process.
As well as being a consummate scientist, Chris Hadfield also has the heart of a poet, and the sensitivity of the way he sang Bowie’s song seem to update it for modern audiences.
The works of great artists outlast them, and listening to this version of Bowie’s song after hearing the tragic news of his death, reminds me that songs like Space Oddity are a gift to us all.
Chris told me that the power of poetry is how you relate to the words, your interpretation of what is being said. And that’s what he tried to convey in the cover.
David Bowie created countless works of art that were not only visionary and prophetic, but which opened up ways for us to express what we might never have expressed otherwise.
Bowie’s influences were far reaching, and he was a master of the creative intersection, fusing rock and roll with theatre, opera, space technology, literature – you name it.
The very fact that a real-world astronaut discovered more about himself through one of Bowie’s songs shows that the man’s music will last the ages.
Goodbye David Bowie, and thank you Commander Hadfield.