peter schilling - "major tom"
in 1990, after many decades of forced separation, east and west germany finally reunified, and the two peoples celebrated as one the characteristic that defined them and defied their captors throughout all the years of toil and oppression: a love of terrible music. one of the unsung heroes of this newly-triumphant society was peter schilling, who created a song so lame that the normally-obedient east germans rose up against their soviet oppressors in order that they might listen to a stupid astronaut song.
communism tore families apart; falco brought them together again
BONUS ALTERNATE JOKE: the beginning of the end for the GDR occurred in 1985 when the state-controlled economy inadvertently created massive shortages of nena LPs
peter schilling's "major tom (völlig losgelöst)" is about an astronaut, major tom, who is launched into space, marvels at his planet and then dies in an accident. sound familiar?
it's easy to confuse the two songs, since the themes are so similar, so here's a brief table outlining the primary differences:
|david bowie's version||peter schilling's version|
|song meaning||a metaphorical exploration of the loneliness inherent in man||couldn't tell, lyrics are in german|
|is it good?||yes||only if you're german or unusually high|
the worst part of peter schilling's use of the character major tom is that he totally perverts the message of the first song. at the end of bowie's "space oddity," major tom succumbs to the void, knowing in the truest sense the feeling of isolation from all that one knows and loves. in contrast, schilling's major tom fakes his death so he can kick it in space, because he's not even human.* if anyone can tell me how this makes sense, feel free to fill me in!! (don't contact me)
this album cover is god's cosmic revenge for the holocaust
of course, like all '80s musicians, peter schilling later gained weight and began to wear a bandana like john travolta in wild hogs. additionally, like all european musicians, he began to perform shitty eurotrance versions of his "greatest hits," including "major tom" (i'm pretty sure a video of this exists on youtube, but i wouldn't recommend watching it; it's not so much funny or entertaining as just incredibly sad).
john travolta: wait a second, you want me to make look who's talking 4? well of course i'm available!
however, none of this will ever diminish my love for this song. i like it so much that i actually overdrew my bank account purchasing it from itunes, because i couldn't wait to listen to a sick song about a german who goes into space and tricks his wife into thinking he's dead**. why do i love this song? for the same reason that i love freur's "doot doot."***
* know how you can tell this is a stupid theme for a song? because it sounds like i just made a shitty joke, but it's actually the fucking truth.
** incidentally, this is also the plot of goethe's "the sorrows of young werther."
*** i don't actually know what the reason is, but i suspect it's closely associated with my fondness for starship troopers and dog police. oh yeah, the reason is marijuana.
johnny rico: marines! roll that shit, light that shit, smoke it!