Space Oddity

During my morning routine from around 7:00 to 9:00 (Central time in Canada), I like to have a random, unknown music mix playing. But among the radio stations I listen to online, mainly KEXP Seattle and BBC 6 Music, there isn’t usually anything on that appeals to me for that time of day.

The Morning Show with John Richards, which I really enjoy, runs from 7:00 to 9:00, but two hours behind us in the Pacific time zone, so it’s past that quiet, reflective time of the morning for me here.

Just last week, I noticed that KEXP keeps a few archives handy on the show webpage and so this morning, after a particularly active session of Perry Como the cat attacking his Da Bird toy while I was waving it about, I tuned into yesterday’s episode of the show. Richards played many songs to soothe and calm the audience, knowing and feeling the impending national anxiety, looking ahead to today, election day in the United States. He also told a lovely story of a serendipitous chain of events that made for a special time on the bike with his son, on Hallowe’en.

Many of the songs he played were themed on America. I heard a few songs that inspired me to post them sometime. But then he ran a mix of some covers of David Bowie songs, and the one in particular that moved me deeply was a cover of “Space Oddity.” The song, inspired by the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, was the first of Bowie’s to make it to the hit charts in the United Kingdom after its release in July 1969, days before America’s launch of the historic Apollo 11 moon-landing mission.

I tried to Shazam this cover of “Space Oddity,” but the app came back with “no result.” No wonder; it isn’t a recording through a record label but rather through the YouTube channel of the Silverlake Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, California, USA, whose Youth and Master Youth Chorale performed the song. The notes to the video posted in April 2020 say, “Members of the Silverlake Conservatory of Music’s Youth and Master Youth Chorale received the music on a Friday, and recorded it on their phones on the following Monday. This was quite a challenge for these kids who normally rely on listening to each other, breathing together, following their director, and feeling confident with all of the musical choices that choirs usually make together. Thank you Silverlake Conservatory students for continuing to sing through this difficult time, we are proud of you!

The choir’s performance is so beautiful. The young singers nail the line with Bowie’s original inflection, “This is Major Tom to Ground Control / I’m stepping through the door / And I’m floating / in a most-a-peculiar way…” On a day with anxiety and tension, thinking of the country where so many of our friends live, the music provided sweet tears of joy and hope. And the little bits of laughter interspersed in it are delightful.

If these young people can create such beauty together, while separate, in a world that’s so uncertain and foreign to them, surely we all can take inspiration and motivation to make a better future with and for them.

Today, my sweety and I will check in with many of our American friends, and if we don’t connect by phone, messaging, Zoom or social media, we will nonetheless be sending our best juju to our neighbours to the south.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here. Enjoy, and please be gentle with yourselves and each other, my American lovelies, and everyone. As John Richards says every day, “You Are Not Alone.” And as my dear friend in Colorado says, “Blessed Be.”

Here’s the video for the performance from the official YouTube channel of the Silverlake Conservatory of Music (and I encourage you to check out some of their other titles like “Come on Home Baby Now,” also done in isolation):

And, here’s the official 1972 video of Bowie miming to the 1969 recording:

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