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Major Tom
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TOPIC: Major Tom

posted 11-02-2013 05:48
I was listening to some Bowie on shuffle yesterday. And as if my ipod was in on some joke it played in sequence Space Oddity-Ashes to Ashes-Hallo Spaceboy.

Even the least interested in Bowie’s music would normally know that all three songs are about Major Tom. Which got me thinking, is Major Tom the most referenced character in popular music? Apart from the three songs mentioned, I’ve always been of the opinion that Starman and The Man Who Sold The World are both about Major Tom, so that’s five separate references by Bowie alone.

In addition, Bowie has always been convinced Elton John’s Rocket Man is an oblique reference to the bold Major. You also have Peter Schilling’s 1983 synth hit Major Tom (Coming Home) and more recently in 2003 K.I.A’s downtempo chillout Mrs Major Tom which tells the story of the astronaut's better half after her husband ended up strung out on heaven’s high hitting an all time low.

So, is there a more enduring and namechecked character/subject in popular music?
posted 11-02-2013 06:47
If we're collecting obscure references to Major Tom...

Michael Monroe (ex Hanoi Rocks) mentions him in passing in "'78", released in 2011.
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posted 11-02-2013 08:25
Geoffrey de Ste. Croix wrote:
Which got me thinking, is Major Tom the most referenced character in popular music?


Would I be accused of unwarranted flippancy and an unreasonably trite attitude if I were to nominate Jesus Christ?

Otherwise I would suggest Stagger Lee.
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posted 11-02-2013 09:08
Bo Diddley.
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posted 11-02-2013 09:57
Chaka Khan.
It's only really in 2 songs (I feel for You and the 12" of Step Off by Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five) buy Melle Mel does say it about 50 or so times in each...
posted 11-02-2013 10:04
It is difficult to stop after you've said it once, Melle Mel-style, tho'
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posted 11-02-2013 10:19
I think Craig David used to reference himself in most of his stuff.

Remember him? Probably not.
posted 11-02-2013 10:46
Major Tom also gets mentioned in 'Rain or Shine' by Five Star believe it or not. I think the the lyrics to that were written by former King Crimson lyricist Pete Sinfield.
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posted 11-02-2013 10:56
Do Bo Diddley, Chaka Khan and, uh, Craig David really count as 'characters' given that they're real people? I mean, if we're going to consider genuine beings, then I'm sure there must be hundreds of references to Elvis in popular music. (As for Jesus Christ - well, that's a broader debate...)

'Lucy in the sky' features in at least three Beatles songs - though obviously falls short of Major Tom references, so not sure why I mentioned it really.
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posted 11-02-2013 11:07
Chaka Khan's not a real person, you idiot. he was a character in Star Trek. Honestly, some people.
Last Edit: 11-02-2013 11:08:48 by hobbes.
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posted 11-02-2013 11:08
posted 11-02-2013 11:29
Geoffrey de Ste. Croix wrote:
I’ve always been of the opinion that Starman and The Man Who Sold The World are both about Major Tom …


I'm not sure I agree with that. Bowie's lyrics have always been very obtuse and you can often read into them anything you like.

Starman's cut from a lot of the cloth that's present throughout Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust.
posted 11-02-2013 11:39
Are we talking characters that were made up for the song? Because, a la Jesus, there are plenty of other characters that must be referenced hundreds or thousands of times. Santa, say. Or Frankenstein ('s monster). Or the Devil.
posted 11-02-2013 11:43
Geldof followed up 'Terry and Julies" antics didnt he?
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posted 11-02-2013 12:06
I don't find Bowie's lyrics "obtuse"; that seems a very strange statement.
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posted 11-02-2013 13:02
One of my nephews - the oldest one - had a child with his girlfriend of the time and they named him 'Major Tom'. Bloody hippies!

I wonder how the kid is doing now. Probably about the age where he'll be having kids of his own now (if the rest of my nephews and nieces, with their amphibianlike breeding habits are anything to go by!). I never wanted to be a great-great uncle by the age of 42! Bastards!
Last Edit: 11-02-2013 13:04:17 by evilC.
posted 11-02-2013 13:02
Wyatt Earp wrote:
I don't find Bowie's lyrics "obtuse"; that seems a very strange statement.

Now the dress is hung,
The ticket pawned
The Factor Max that proved the fact
Is melted down
And woven on the edging of my pillow


I mean, I'm a huge Bowie fan, but I gave up trying to make sense of a lot of his lyrics ages ago.
posted 11-02-2013 13:06
Perhaps I should have been explicit in my original post. I mean a fictional song character being name checked in other songs by the same artist or others. Yes, I know that could arguably still lead to Jesus Christ being a candidate…..

Still, Major Tom I read is name checked by ex Hanoi Rocks front men and Five Star. He’s still in the lead.

Jah Womble wrote:

'Lucy in the sky' features in at least three Beatles songs - though obviously falls short of Major Tom references, so not sure why I mentioned it really.


No, that’s good, I’d forgotten about that- any multiple name checked characters are good to add.

StumpyPepys,

Starman is a stick on for being about Major Tom. The Man Who Sold The World perhaps less so, but when I read the lyrics it tends to fit the whole Major Tom narrative.
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posted 11-02-2013 13:14
Stumpy Pepys wrote:
Wyatt Earp wrote:
I don't find Bowie's lyrics "obtuse"; that seems a very strange statement.

Now the dress is hung,
The ticket pawned
The Factor Max that proved the fact
Is melted down
And woven on the edging of my pillow


I mean, I'm a huge Bowie fan, but I gave up trying to make sense of a lot of his lyrics ages ago.


Yeah, but I think that's because they're deliberately impenetrable, isn't it?
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posted 11-02-2013 13:21
The Walrus and The Fool On the Hill both recur in Glass Onion - but that song's so deliberately self-referential I'm not sure it counts.

I mean, I'm a huge Bowie fan, but I gave up trying to make sense of a lot of his lyrics ages ago.

I don't think Bowie's lyrics were ever really there to be analysed or interpreted. Good as they were, like.

Chaka Khan's not a real person, you idiot. he was a character in Star Trek. Honestly, some people.

Next you'll be telling me to cancel my tickets to see Jabba the Hut at Shepherd's Bush Empire. How to ruin my week.
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