Your Spaceship Knows Which Way To Go

11 Jan

By now we’ve all heard the news: David Bowie died earlier today from cancer.

And though our favorite artist kept the news of his terminal diagnosis a secret from all but his inner circle, he did not allow it to keep him from entering a new genre (jazz) for his last album, Blackstar, released Friday.

We all know that was his birthday. We all know the critics love the album, and we all know that a copy can no longer be found anywhere. At this point in the day there is little we don’t know about this global superstar.

So we’ll focus on Bowie’s influence on Pub.

Pub first heard Space Oddity as a scrawny 6-year-old back in 1969 while riding (unbuckled) in the front bucket seat of her favorite aunt’s sports car. Aunt Martha was great, still is. She would blast the latest rock hits from car radio, which unlike Pub’s parents, had an FM option.

They’d sing along to Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” and Dusty Springfield’s “Son a Preacher Man.” Still a Pub favorite. Pub had no idea what those lyrics meant, but she enjoyed the quality time with an adult who had no parental control on her.

One day “Space Oddity” came through the speakers and she did understand the lyrics, or she thought she did. A man on a space mission lost communication with earth and would be lost in space forever.

Even the musical score was eerie. Could that really happen? Could astronauts be trapped in space forever because of a mechanical failure. Are there people floating around up there never to see their families again?

“Space Oddity” frightened Pub to the point that Aunt Martha was quick to change the radio station whenever it played.

The name David Bowie meant little to Pub, a devoted David Cassidy fan, at the time. But his hits kept coming and her curiosity was piqued during a babysitting stint in 1976. Or was it ’77.

Either way,the young couple, probably Aunt Martha’s age, had a sleek sound system, in that they did not have a “record player” but a “turn table.” Wow! They also had rows of carefully alphabetized albums nearby. Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin.

“Make yourself at home,” Mr. Gray said, as he explained the fancy controls of his sound system, which included a set of bulky headphones. Pub did after the kids were asleep.

Of the hundreds of choices, Pub decided on DAVIDONEBOWIE, a compilation of the artist’s early hits. She skipped the scary first cut, “Space Oddity, and opted to try out the second. “John, I’m only Dancing,” sold her. Bearing the biggest headphones in the world, she dancing around the Gray’s family room as much as the headphone cord would allow. She loved that song and still does. It’s so upbeat and fun with an element of mystery. Why does John care who David is dancing with? There’s a story there somewhere.

Pub was always available whenever the Grays needed childcare. Once those boys were down, she was dancing to “Jean Genie,” and of course “Suffragette City,” the inspiration for the name of this blog.

One evening, she dared to listen to “Space Oddity.” Was that guy still floating out in space alone? Nothing changed. But then it did. A few days later, when she was nowhere near an audio system.  The lyrics were still floating around in her head.

Now it’s time to leave the capsule
if you dare …

Though I’m past
one hundred thousand miles
I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go

“Space Oddity” is about taking the leap. Breaking away from those who tell you what to do and when. Setting your own course. Take that first step out of the box and you will miraculously be guided in the right direction.

It is one of Pub’s favorite songs and Bowie one of Pub’s favorite artists. He walked his talk. David Jones stepped out of the box, took risk, followed his passions and by all accounts, led a happy and fulfilled life.

And that’s what “Space Oddity” is all about. Enjoy life while enjoying the ride. No worries. Your spaceship knows which way to go.

“Space Oddity” is played all over the place. Everyone knows it. “John…” is less known, but still a Bowie classic in our opinion, so we’re sharing thuis YouTube version.  Feel free to dance!




19 Responses to “Your Spaceship Knows Which Way To Go”

  1. Carol Jamison January 11, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    Hi Maureen,

    I enjoyed this one. Thanks for posting such a great tribute!

    Best, Carol

  2. Janice Wald January 12, 2016 at 1:24 am #

    Louisa May Alcatt? How great. My mom and I are Louise May Alcott fans.
    It’s beautiful you made a tribute to David Bowie on your blog.
    I met you on Jason Cushman’s site. Maybe you can check out my blog, especially if you could use a blogging tip or two. That’s what I blog about. Like Jason, I have regular networking opportunities.

  3. KerryCan January 12, 2016 at 6:10 am #

    It’s so easy to relate to your tale of how we can be intoxicated by music, especially as young people! A great tribute to Bowie!

  4. Bruce Thiesen January 12, 2016 at 10:28 am #

    Never underestimate the lasting impact of cool aunts like Aunt Martha. What a fantastic image of you cruising around with her in her sports car. So fun. And then there’s Mr. Gray. So generous of him to sort those albums and make them so easily accessible to you and your imagination. I suppose DAVIDONEBOWIE has never sounded so good to you as it did all those years ago. Just the right combination of excellent stereo gear and a young person’s open mind. Another lovely image.

    • Louisa May Alcatt January 13, 2016 at 9:29 am #

      Hi Bruce! One of the many upshots of living is spending time different people. You never know who you’ll meet where and who much of an impact they will leave with you. Aunt Martha is still the BEST! Haven’t seen the Grays in awhile. so it goes. Always a pleasure, Bruce! LMA

  5. Nicole Jessome January 12, 2016 at 11:10 am #

    “Space Oddity” is about taking the leap. Breaking away from those who tell you what to do and when. Setting your own course. Take that first step out of the box and you will miraculously be guided in the right direction.”…loved this. Great post and my mission is to never forget the inspiration he gave to so many to just be yourself.

  6. January 12, 2016 at 6:55 pm #

    Thank you for this loving tribute, so beautifully said.

    • Louisa May Alcatt January 13, 2016 at 9:24 am #

      thank you, as an English Prof, I’m sure you noticed the typos. So sorry. Copy Editor out sick this week 🙂

  7. Born To Organize January 12, 2016 at 7:04 pm #

    What a terrific tribute to the man and the artist. Fame is one of my personal favorites. And I too had a crush on David Cassidy. I mean, didn’t everybody???

    Such a loss. What a remarkable man.

    • Louisa May Alcatt January 13, 2016 at 9:23 am #

      Now BTO, did you have the David Cassidy jigsaw puzzle? We were sooooo excited to see that under the tree one Christmas morning!

      BTW, thank you so much for the compliments, xo LMA

      • Born To Organize January 13, 2016 at 6:55 pm #

        Oh my goodness! A puzzle!!! We loved doing puzzles growing up (still do) but we missed that one.

  8. Opinionated Man January 12, 2016 at 7:07 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your tribute today with us!

  9. Janice Wald January 15, 2016 at 12:19 am #

    I know the English Professor at Large and Jason Cushman. It’s been two days, and I never received notification about your subscription. Could you please try again? Thanks,

  10. LB January 17, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

    LMA, it’s me again! I’m listening to “John … ” as I type and am loving it.
    Thank you for this tribute to David Bowie. I’d just listened to a segment on the World Cafe on his birthday, and learned all about Blackstar. What a shock to find out that he had died just 3 days later.

  11. roughwighting January 29, 2016 at 9:50 am #

    Great post about Bowie and a time long ago, when we discovered his music the first time. When I was younger, I didn’t understand his songs – they were too ‘out there’ for me. But now, I LOVE the songs, the lyrics, the sounds, and I feel Bowie’s spiritual mastery in his music. His last album is pure genius.

  12. Crystal M. Trulove January 31, 2016 at 9:57 am #

    Thank you for this great tribute to a mindbending artist. Also, thanks for unpacking the lyrics for me too…because, while I have listened to the song half a million times, it is one of those I never thought through and tried to decipher. I am notoriously terrible with understanding lyrics, and apparently sonnets, too, as my honors English professor told me. Every message about taking a leap and believing in my own ability to get through is a message I cherish.

    Your descriptions of how music impacted you at a young age are perfect! I can totally picture the enormous headphones.

    It’s particularly valuable to see this post from someone with your qualifications. At age 10, you were a space cadet long before any of the rest of us. 😉

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