(New York, NY) — If as in response to fellow singer Scott Walker’s recent stated desire that he record new material, veteran artist David Bowie has announced the impending release of new vinyl-only 12″ single, “Retired Astronaut (Dust To Dust)”. Following “Space Oddity” (1969) and “Ashes To Ashes (1980), “Retired Astronaut (Dust to Dust)” represents the final song in the “Major Tom” trilogy.
“I always knew I’d come back to the Major,” joked Bowie yesterday at a press conference in New York City advertising the upcoming single. “It felt too much like unfinished business leaving him ‘strung out in Heaven’s high’.”
According to record industry insiders who’ve heard the track, boundary pushing artist Bowie has once again broken new ground in that, for the first time there is no subtext or moral ambiguity to the lyrics, which are a straightforward, largely prosaic description of a tanned, fit, but fading hero who is generally quite satisfied with the relaxed pace of retirement, the chorus describing the ex-Major, “pottering around the house/dusting to dust/the kitchen tap/mend it I must”. The music is likewise boldly unchallenging, another first for Bowie, so as not to scare off his fans, most of whom are now in their 50s and 60s.
The sequel recounts mundane events of the retiree spaceman’s life over the intervening years since we last heard from him: He moved an hour and a half west of Cape Canaveral, near Maitland, Florida, mows the grass daily and attends occasional testimonial dinners in his honour. We hear details about his Zumba exercise regime, the Augusta, Georgia gala at which he spoke to commemorate an elementary school named in his honour and a slight drinking problem he dealt with in the late 1980s which he overcame with help from his wife, Mariella.
The latter half of the song talks of a minor depression, more like ennui really, the NASA employee experienced when he retreated from the limelight and ceased space travel. The extended version on the b-side includes verses discussing a recent health scare, feared testicular cancer, which turned out to be a benign cyst, an investment pyramid scam he got caught up in during the banking crisis of 2008 and the periodic interviews the former astronaut gives when space travel crops up in the news, e.g. the final launch of space shuttle or the various moon landing anniversaries.
Perhaps most interestingly, we finally learn Major Tom’s last name: turns out it’s Smith.