Understanding Major Tom, the Astronaut Who Abandoned Planet Earth

Before Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon, David Bowie sang a story about a different astronaut – Major Tom. An alienated spaceman, Tom loses his connection with ground control and floats off into the cosmos. But the lyrics hint that it wasn’t some terrible accident, on the contrary…Tom didn’t want to come back to earth.


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Bowie explained: “Here was the great blast of American technological know-how shoving this guy up into space, but once he gets there, he’s not quite sure why anymore.” By creating Major Tom, Bowie showed us how our perspective can change in an instant and cause us to feel and behave in ways we would have never imagined.

So what’s the deal with Major Tom? And who was he exactly? Here’s the truth.