Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Ashes To Ashes

by

David Bowie



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song can be seen as a sequel to Bowie's 1969 hit, "Space Oddity." It revisits the fictional astronaut, Major Tom, who is now in space. He has regained communication with Ground Control and tells them he is happy, but they deem him nothing but a "junkie, strung out in heavens high, hitting an all-time low." Fans believe this to be Bowie's autobiographical piece about his fight against drug abuse and other personal demons.
The closing refrain of this song, "My mama said to get things done, you'd better not mess with Major Tom," suggests that in order to make the best of the future, one should not dwell on the past. It has also been suggested that "Space Oddity" was a thinly veiled reference to a drug trip, and that "Ashes to Ashes" is hinting that in order to move on, Bowie must kick these drug habits. (thanks, Jason - Watford, England)
In his 2003 interview with Performing Songwriter magazine, Bowie explains that the song "Inchworm," which was sung by Danny Kaye in the 1952 movie Hans Christian Andersen, was a big influence on "Ashes To Ashes." Said Bowie: "I loved it as a kid and it's stayed with me forever. I keep going back to it. You wouldn't believe the amount of my songs that have sort of spun off that one song. Not that you'd really recognize it. Something like 'Ashes to Ashes' wouldn't have happened if it hadn't have been for 'Inchworm.' There's a child's nursery rhyme element in it, and there's something so sad and mournful and poignant about it. It kept bringing me back to the feelings of those pure thoughts of sadness that you have as a child, and how they're so identifiable even when you're an adult. There's a connection that can be made between being a somewhat lost five-year old and feeling a little abandoned and having the same feeling when you're in your twenties. And it was that song that did that for me."
The music video for "Ashes to Ashes" features Bowie dressed as Pierrot in a variety of bizarre situations. Steve Strange of the New Wave band, Visage, cameos. Bowie has said the shot of himself and other characters marching towards the camera in front of a bulldozer symbolizes "oncoming violence." During this scene, the characters behind Bowie are not bowing, but simply trying to pull their gowns away from the bulldozer so they don't get stuck! This, and many other images in the video suggest that Bowie may be trying to bury the various personas he developed.

The video, which Bowie directed with David Mallet, cost £250,000 to produce, making it the most expensive music video ever made at the time. It was released a year before MTV went on the air.
In 1983, Peter Schilling released "Major Tom (I'm Coming Home)," which is based on the Major Tom character. It was a rare instance of someone making a sequel to a song by another artist.
This was sampled on Samantha Mumba's "Body II Body." Bowie gave his seal of approval to Samantha's song, but a lot of his fans hated it. (thanks, Adam - Dewsbury, England)
The British BBC TV series, Ashes to Ashes, was named after this song. The series served as the sequel to Life on Mars, which was also named after the Bowie song of the same name.
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) was ranked at #30 on Q Magazine's "100 Greatest British Albums Ever."
David Bowie
David Bowie Artistfacts
More David Bowie songs
More songs that are sequels
More songs with lyrics based on nursery rhymes or fairytales
More songs about space

Comments (64):

They were definitely bowing and not just pulling their robes out of the mud. It wasn't that muddy and that is what they had been told to do.

Paul from Teddington. No Steve Strange wasn't that annoying and you can't see the bulldozer trying to kill him. The driver didn't care in the least.

How do I know? I was there working on that video and many others.
- MatthewPhoto, Exeter, United Kingdom
Does anyone know what the 2 women in what appears to be "religious" wear signify by touching the ground ?
IMO Bowie will always be among the greatest
- Mark, Carson City, NV
This didn't cross my mind as a possibility until I read someone mention the actual song "Space Oddity" as something haunting Bowie as a his first hit and gateway to fame. Assuming this held some truth, I thought that the "little green wheels" might not just be a description of one arbitrarily chosen hallucination, but a reference to the green overlapping waves in the opening of the music video of "Space Oddity". (I don't know if the electronic waves filmed were on an oscilloscope or different device, but though not circles, their movement and shape might be easy to describe as wheels, especially if Bowie was looking for a certain lyric that would fit.) From a metaphorical standpoint this makes sense, in which the opening sequence of his most significant visual premiere gave him a celebrity that continued to stick with him, and which he could not shake.
- G, Hackettstown, NJ
It almost seemed like the 1970s began with "Space Oddity" and ended with "Ashes to Ashes." I love the soaring synthesizers used throughout "Ashes to Ashes" and the almost-mystical ending always puts me into sort of a trance. You can interpret the lyrics however you want; for me it's the soundscape of both "Space Oddity" and "Ashes to Ashes" that make listening to them enjoyable again and again.
- Bob, bw92116, CA
Caught this video first on Video West's Backstage Pass back in the day.loved the Pagliacci clown suit Bowie had on.Loved the Major Tom references.One of my favorite songs of the 80's!
- Michael, santa cruz, CA
Not just this, but any review that states how this song is him reflecting on his drug-addiction and feeling repentant, has got the wrong end of the stick! Bowie loved drugs, he loved both the physical feeling and the ridiculous publicity from being so open about his abuse: in 1980, Bowie was going through his highest level of drug-abuse and would never have been sorry for getting into them! Songs are songs: enjoy them and don't strangle every ounce of meaning you can from them (especially concerning Bowie- hear the beauty)!!!!!
- george, Shrewsbury, United Kingdom
This song is NOT about heroin... If you read Playboy's article on David Bowie, he always says that he hated so-called 'slow drugs' such as heroin and weed due to the fact that they lowered his potential. He only took 'fast drugs' such as cocaine and ecstasy so he could work for longer- get your facts right! In this article he also mentions how he believed in fascism: he would not delve into the world of politics and ethics unless he believed that he could create a bit of a stir (something he quite liked doing!). His songs are not so much about meanings, merely random collaborations that he believed sounded rhythmical.
- george, Shrewsbury, United Kingdom
@- ElectricRay, London, United Kingdom

Glad you like my transcription! I was pleased to work it out too! But it makes it to know that you have solved something someone has been wondering about for so long!

Check out the live version of him performing Ashes to Ashes in Chile in 1990 on You Tube. Parts of the background vocals are very clear and bear out my transcription!.

As for the meaning, which surprises me that people are so confused about it.

Bowie definitely was addicted to Cocaine and may have also dabbled with heroin. Either way the song is absolutely about him struggling to kick that addiction and using the character of Major Tom (written about seeing 2001 on acid + surburban alienation) as, perhaps, his drug persona that he was casting aside along with the rest of the 70's.

The whole song is a ritual, a public catharsis of his previous life. (like the title itself is at a funeral)

That's what the JCB is for in the video!

He's burying his past!

Ha! ha! I never thought of that. Of course Bowie describes the JCB as 'the threat of oncoming violence' but he's famous for lying about details he can't remember.

one flash of light. . . indeed.

(by the way definitely not Hiroshima see the bowie song "When the Wind Blows" for his take on Nuclear Bombs)
- Schmeng, Manchester, United Kingdom
Can I just report the transcription by Schmeng, because it is brilliant, and I have waited 26 years for someone to figure this out. So well done, Schmeng:

------------------------------------
THE SHRIEKING OF NOTHING IS KILLING
you shrieking nothing killing

JUST PICTURES OF JAP GIRLS IN 'SYNTHESIS'
just pictures of jap girls in synthesis

AND I AINT GOT NO MONEY AND I AINT GOT NO HAIR
and i aint got no money and i aint got no hair

(no foreground vocals in this bit)
no everlasting aesthetic...
songs that please the ear and leave the mind alone

BUT I'M HOPING TO KICK BUT THE PLANET IS GLO-(echo)
but i'm hoping to kick but the planet is glowing
an outdated concept of falling...
----------------------------------------------

For the record, I'd wager a cool hundred bucks this song is not about Hiroshima. And it is certainly not a literal story about an astronaut in space. And I don't think Bowie ever did heroin, and if he did it definitely wasn't as early as 1969 so, even though it attempts to write of Space Odyssey as a junkie song, it wasn't.
- ElectricRay, London, United Kingdom
This song is not about drugs. It seriously isn't. The flash of light is major Tom's rocket, the action man is Major Tom, "I'm happy, hope you're happy too" is part of major Tom's message to earth, when he says "I want to come down right now!" it means he wants to come down, as in to earth. He IS stranded in space after all. The ice represents earth's coldness towards him, he wants taht to stop "we know major Tom's a junkie" means the ground control have come to the conclusion he is a junkie, it's not TRUE, and then the song overall is just about how there's no way back for him, no way back to earth, because he's of no worth to anyone. It is genuinely just about a fictional astronaut who is not on drugs, but is stranded in space.
- Sandy, London, United Kingdom
Over 20 years ago i heard it was about hes addiction to masturbation, Major Tom is hes penis
- john, LARNACA, Cyprus
Ok the BACKGROUND VOCALS to Ashes to Ashes once and for all.

FOREGROUND IN CAPS
background in lower case.

Note - the background vocals do not fall in exact time with the foreground vocals and often go over the bar line and are phrased to a different 'spoken' rhythm.

------------------------------------
THE SHRIEKING OF NOTHING IS KILLING
you shrieking nothing killing

JUST PICTURES OF JAP GIRLS IN 'SYNTHESIS'
just pictures of jap girls in synthesis

AND I AINT GOT NO MONEY AND I AINT GOT NO HAIR
and i aint got no money and i aint got no hair

(no foreground vocals in this bit)
no everlasting aesthetic...
songs that please the ear and leave the mind alone

BUT I'M HOPING TO KICK BUT THE PLANET IS GLO-(echo)
but i'm hoping to kick but the planet is glowing
an outdated concept of falling...
----------------------------------------------

There you go. For me the discovery of:

"no everlasting aesthetic...
songs that please the ear and leave the mind alone"

-was the exciting discovery. I had to listen hard for it. Never knew it was in there all these years. Anyway, it relates to Bowie's continuous stylistic changes throughout the 70's and possibly his critical evaluation of his work as nothing more than pop music without depth. Which of course isn't true.
At the same time it could also refer to the kind of music he preferred to listen to when he was on heroin. Nice pleasing sounds that don't make him think too much.

Anyway hope that's solved that little mystery for people.
- Schmeng, Manchester, United Kingdom
Hiroshima??? No sorry you are dead wrong

and unless you have used either heroin or a strong opiate like oxycontin, you might not get the meaning of the song.... anyways IT IS HANDS DOWN A SONG ABOUT Heroin!

Im not going to pick this song apart I think every song has its own meaning to each person, but to bowie it means heroin

"my momma said to get things done you'd better not mess with major tom"

- simply means stay away from heroin unless you want to sit around accomplishing nothing for the rest of your life
- reknub84, Chatham, ON
One flash of light, but no smoking pistol refers to the flash from shooting up. I.e, "White Light/White Heat" from V.U. You see a flash of light when you shoot H and you sweat a lot. I think Bowie stuck to the White Lady, though, but who really knows. I had a "valuable friend" once, too, but I kicked her to the curb.
- Matt, Victori, TX
When I hear "want an axe to break the ice" it brings to my mind the image of using a one-sided razor blade (axe) to chop cocaine (ice). Coke being Bowie's reputed drug of choice when he was drugging. At the same time it brings to mind the alienation of a stoned person from from the unstoned but being unable to bridge the gap due to being stoned. So in that one line he goes from wanting to get high to wanting to come down already.
- Steve, berkeley, CA
the "want an axe to break the ice" and "one gun smoking pistol" sound like exaggerated solutions to something, but what is it?
- Paolo, Mexico City, Mexico
I think it's hard to speak about a song out of its context (the whole bowie artwork). You can find japanese elements in a lot of bowie songs and even in Ziggy clothes. I consider Ashes to ashes like an echo to other songs and people here noticed that too. When I watched ashes to ashes video I didn't understand it was a reference to Hiroshima but why not? it made me think to Ixtoc 1 and the big catastrophe with petrol (1979-1980 south texas). Black sea etc...
- e-clown, perpignan, France
I love this song so much. I want it played at my funeral. I think that the song is about addictions in general. We all have them.
There are obvious references to heroin "Major Tom's a junkie," "I'm stuck with a valuable friend," but there are other things like the lines, "I've loved all I've needed love, sordid details following," and "Pictures of Jap girls in synthesis," that sound more like a porn or sex addiction.
The line that speaks the most to me, and that supports my theory that this song is for addicts of every vice, is "I'm happy, hope you're happy too." I struggled with eating disorders, which are like addiction in that they're compulsive, and I would always tell myself that I was skipping meals and exercising non-stop to make my mother happy. I was happy with the way I looked (I didn't see that I looked like a skeleton) and I told myself that my mom would be proud that I wasn't going to be a fat kid. The axe that broke the ice for me was the bathroom scale. When I saw that I weighed only 88 pounds, I immediately went and ate an entire jar of peanuts while lying in bed, and after that I was pretty much cured.
Anyway, this is a marvelous song and I think that David Bowie is an absolute genius, because he wrote an autobiographical song that applies to everyone.
- Vanessa, Honolulu, HI
Dara (dublin) clearly understands the correct meaning in his interpretation above.

Ashes to Ashes is about the dropping of the Atom bomb from the Enola Gay on Hiroshima Japan......

The name of the bomb aimer on that day was Major Tom Ferebee.

The references to ashes, planet glowing, jap girls all tie in.
- deage, bristol, United Kingdom
I think this has got to be one of my all-time favorite songs. The warbling synth in the intro is really unique, and there are so many great moments in the music in this tune. Excellent bass. Bowie's stuff has always been just wonderfully original. Love it!
- DV4067, Bloomingdale, NJ
So much written about Bowie! I agree with the belief that Space Oddity is about heroin. Little else makes sense. And yes Bowie was (is) into some way out there stuff...and all that that entails. His music is great...have you noticed that all the great ones are a bit on the edge...or is some cases way over the edge.
- Valerie, Eureka, CA
There's absolutely no question that this song is about heroin withdrawal. Some reference an lsd trip, but no way. You don't become a junkie on acid or any other drug except opiates. Take it from one who knows. And if you're going through withdrawals, it helps to listen to this. It's a truly amazing and soothing song when you're sick, or not. I've loved this song and video since the 80s.
- Theo, Jacksonville, FL
For some reason, I really like the "I'm happy, hope you're happy too" part. I also like the music that starts at the "hitting an all-time low" bit.
- Kayla, Bloomington, IN
i´VE been reading all these comms. and after i visited youtube and found this video which i think is very meaning : http://youtube.com/watch?v=__CZ2QqaSK8 .
A space odissey dresses a drugs odissey.
Stu, Spain.
- Stu, Barcelona, Spain
i understand the junkie part, but heres what i heard in it........
in the video, it shows david bowie wearing a space outfit in the 50s, tied to a high chair in his moms kitchen. always the mothers son.......
and it shows him dressed as a dolled up clown, being chastised and taught by his mother.....
"my mother said, to get things done, better not mess with major tom(number one)"
that he has to be the younger brother, as in never be what he wants to be, just do what number one wants, and do as your told......
its just the general impression i got, thats all. it seems alot of truly great masterpieces can mean mother issues, nuclear bombs, and drug addiction, all at the sametime....and mean much more.
best line
"ive never done good things, ive never done bad things, ive never done anything out of the blue" almost cried when i heard that, perfect line for a large part of my life. its not great, its not tragic, its just....never did much of anything......anyway, great song.
- JAmes, santa clarita, CA
For the line "want an axe to break the ice", my interpretation is this.

There's a Kafka quote that goes, "What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book that must be the axe for the frozen sea within us."

How about that?
- Joel, Leiden, Netherlands
btw guys i strongly recommend BBC Theatre Radio , London 2000 : Live version , he continues the instrumental ending part for over 1 mins : SO AMAZING ! also theres women backvocals for the choruses
- Solfa, Tehran, Iran
Sorry about the misstype. I wanted to say "thirty" and not "the teep (?WTF?)"

XD
- John, Newcastle, England
Well my friends, I have been working on the spoken part for the past two weeks, with filters
and so on. I think what he is saying is something like:

"No-one ever asked, he was thirteen"

I'm pretty sure about "no-one ever asked"
but I not entirely certain he says "thirteen."
If he did, then he said it quickly, which is strange, because everything else is spoken quite slowly. It sounds more like "the teep".

He then DEFINITELY says:
"songs that please the ear can leave the mind blown"

And then after the planet is glowing part:

"and I'm prepared to go in 74."

Has anybody else gotten further? Maybe it's time for something to ask the man himself?
- John, Newcastle, England
there is a bbc program called life on mars (also a bowie song which was featured at the end of the series) and the spin off of this is 2 be called ashes to ashes
- Taylor, dundee, Other
Definitely, DB is one of the greatest in music history; he's full of personality.. no matter who sings, you can always tell when David 'put the pencil in'. This song.. seems auto-biographical, puts lots of sweet poetry in a very hard issue to talk about, specially when suffering deep into it.
- Alvaro, Montevideo, South America
may someone tell me whats ' Want An Axe To Break The Ice ' refering to ?
- Solfa, Tehran, Iran
The greatest song from the greatest song-writer ever. I never ever tire of hearing this song. It get's me right in my heart. It has helped me get through many of life's low points. David Bowie is a genius and I thank him for his music.
- Graeme, Manchester, England
absolutely timeless track!!!!!
- paul marlo, perth
I don't wanna come over like a possesed fan, but my fav band Tears For Fears did a cover of this in the early nineties and they did a way better job than Bowie.
Why? Well, Bowie just sings as dull as possible, and that is why I prefer the clearer sung version of TFF, and that's the only reason. Besides, the end on that cover is much more intenser,those last lines gave me way more cold shivers than Bowie did.
- T. Michels, Venlo, Netherlands
I think Brett from Canberra nailed it. Once you know that Major Tom is a pseudonym for heroine, the song pretty much explains itself.
- Stewart, Seattle, WA
'my mother says to get things done, you better not mess with major tom............ wow!!!!....that is mindblowin lyrics really aint it. you can tell the man is english, he's a genious
- gary, chester, England
i love this song in summer i used to go up to the mountains and have a david bowe cd and listen to the cd al day and would play this song at least 10 times
- elie, the u.k, England
I like the Schilling song.
- Aylin, Montreal
I've been listening to this song for more years than I care to think about. Comparing the lyrics to present day Bowie and his life....there is no question that this song is his tribute to defeating his addictions (for a time). I saw the first airing of the video on MTV. It created quite a stir...a hundred grand for a music video was extraordinary in those days.

Joker
- tom, baltimore, MN
I think everyones interpretation of this song is interesting. They all make sense when looking at the lyrics,but with this song, I don't think you can stretch the lyrics that far.
I like the idea of Major Tom being the drug refrence, but the only line that it really coincides with that theory is the last one. None of the other lyrics really work.
- Kayla, London
Very interesting comments, yeah Bowie is talented indeed. The song is so funky at the begining and throughout with the bass, nobody can write a song like him.
- martha, plymouth, England
i always thought this song was about Hiroshima
maybe i was just reading too much into it

about the loneliness of the pilot on the enola gay?

references could be .....


-"ive heard a rumour from ground control oh no dont say its true" - confirmation of the mission / order

"they got a message for the action man- im happy - hope your happy too" - ie: we know you are the right man for the job

the conflicting emotions of guilt and horror versus the knowledge of what he had just done

"ive never done good things , ive never done bad things - ive never done anything out of the blue -ie:dropping the bomb

"wanna come down right now" -self explanatory

"im stuck with a valuable friend " - transporting little man / fat boy in the plane

"but im hoping to kick when the planet is glowing" - comment on the futility of nuclear war / stockpiling / arms race

"we know major toms a junkie ,strung out in heavens high hitting an all time low "- 7 miles high in the plane / reference to dawn of usa foreign policy ambitions

"one flash of light" - self explanatory
ashes to ashes - ditto

"pictures of jap girls in synthesis - "thousands of simultaneous deaths

"i aint got no mommy and i aint got no hair"
- i thought it was mommy not money but id have to check the lyrics -artists often swap/ interchange certain lyrics in songs

"the little grey winds are following me"
- the mushroom cloud expanded rapidly upwards to reach the plane

"to get things done you better not mess with major tom" - the bombing decision taken to try to acheive the end of world war 2


ect ect

just my thoughts - perhaps it refers to heroine also like the other songs mentioned here but i always liked to think great artists wrote about more than just their own situations. He certainly had more than a passing interest on USA s overseas interests in my opinion - young americans / china girl - comments on the spread of globalisation ....

would be interest to hear your thoughts as i am fascinated by ashes to ashes lyrics in addition to its musical perfection
- dara, dublin, Ireland
There is a very interesting reference to feudal Japanese life. Following the lyrics "Jap girls in synthesis", Bowie says " I ain't got no money, and I ain't got no hair." Samurai woman would sell their hair ( their most prized possesion ) to make enough money to satisfy the household budget of their warrior husbands if need called. "China girl" is an obvious reference to heroine, but Bowie seems to have an affinity for eastern culture.

Joker
- tom, manchester, NH
Hey Guys

In ashes to ashes, the reference to " one flash of light, but no smoking pistol" means....heating a spoon of heroin to shoot up.
Bowie had some bad habits, but he is a genius.

Joker
- tom, manchester, NH
Some lines in the song make me think that, fed up by his inability to kick his addiction to drugs (and possibly pornography, if that's what the "pictures of Jap girls" refer to), Major Tom commits suicide in space. The "rumour from ground control" is that he has killed himself, which is what prompts the horrified reaction of "Oh no, don't say it's true". In his recorded suicide note to ground control Major Tom seems to finally at peace now that he has decided to give up on life. "I'm happy, hope you're happy too. I've loved all I've needed love" suggests he is looking back and feeling his life is complete.
Finally there's an explicit reference to a shooting: "One flash of light, but no smoking pistol"; he has killed himself with some high-tech space device. I think all signs point to this being the intended meaning, in addition to drugs etc, and this makes the song even sadder and more affecting to me.

~CD
- CD, NY / Mumbai, Other
When I saw the song's video for the first time way back when, well, it really blew my mind to say the least. Only Bowie could have created the masterpiece. Haven't seen it for quite some time, but I know that when I do again it'll be godhead. My favorite part is on the beach with the old woman - the clown's mother, I guess - both of 'em walking away with her yammering on while the clown's got this befuddled look on his face. Ha! Ha! That part just kills me royally. The song's not too shabby either. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
- Leya Qwest, Anchorage, AK
Hasn't anybody ever wondered what Bowie is saying in the background of Ashes to Ashes? Sure, some of it is just repetition of the sung lyrics - but there's something else back there, and I haven't yet been able to make it out. He seems to say something about "1974" and "songs that please the ear can leave the mind low," but I'm not sure.
- Rew, Auckland, New Zealand
I was always led to believe that this was (in conjunction with Space Oddity) about drug addiction - maybe not a commonly known fact, but Major Tom is another name for heroin. The person in the song is trying to get clean (stop using heroin) but in his withdrawal hallucinations "...the little green wheels keep following me...".

"I'm stuck with a valuable friend" he's addicted to heroin, which is costly, "I'm happy, hope you're happy too" it makes him feel good. "Strung out... hitting an all time low" and "want an axe to break the ice, wanna come down right now" is not about being in the spaceship from Space Oddity, more that he's sick of being on the downer after the high and wants to go straight. Just my thoughts on the song. Brilliant use of metaphors to tell a story though!
- Brett, Canberra, Australia
It's stated that the "Ashes to Ashes" videoclip is the first true videoclip of history, not a live recording and so.
- Gatchan, Valencia, Spain
"Mrs. Major Tom" by K.I.A. is a sequel to the sequel, this time sung by the wife left at home; with lyrics like: "It was light years long/My Major Tom/At last back you've come/Yet still you're gone/You didn't burn up/You just burnt out..." it picks up on the themes of addiction, loss, detachment, etc. (The artist has received 4-star reviews from major papers, including the Globe and Mail, Montreal Gazette, etc.) You can hear it on iTunes...
- neuphoria, toronto, Canada
The video features Steve Strange of Visage pre fame - if you look closely enough you can see the bulldozer trying to knock him over as hes walks away from it - apparantly he was a right pain on the video shoot and the driver was getting his own back!
- Paul, Teddington
Another thought i had for this song, in relation to the 'continueum of Space Oddity' was: could it be that Major Tom was this hero, that everybody loved and then when he got back home (this would be where/when "Ashes to Ashes" takes place) he was old, broke, forgotten, and strung out. or maybe he was a hero and went into space (whether it be literal for Major Tom or metaphoric for Bowie (in which case 'space' would be getting high)) and was gone (or if its metaphoric, 'gone') for so long and got lost (or if its metaphoric, addicted). Then when he came back (or if its metaphoric, came off his high) he was broke, alienated, and so on.
- Montgomery, Florence, KY
i read all these comments and they all seem intellegent and feesable. i dont know that it is an autobiographical song, but if you think about it, most songs reflect something about the writter (whether its an emotion or a trait or an opinion, whatever). Moreover, i think songs (even when written for a specific intention and with a specific meaning) can take on a life of their own and mean different things to different people. or that they could apply to more than one thing ever for the writter. ANYWAY: here was a thought that i had about the autobiographic aspect: could it be that 'major tom' is the drug refference?! Bare with me here; okay, Bowie was obviously dealing with drug issues during the Space Oddity album/tour. At the end of Ashes to Ashes, he says: "My Mama said, to get things done, you'd better not mess with Major Tom"...maybe this is Bowie looking back at those drug problems and associating them with the Space Oddity time. So Bowie could be saying 'if i want to get things done and progress, i cannot revert (or cant keep reverting)back to my old ways' (the old ways being drugs, as in, during the early part of his music career - the Space Oddity/Major Tom 'era'). JUST A THOUGHT!
- Montgomery, Florence, KY
I always thought it was about two things:
On one level it's the continuation of Major Tom after he gets back from his flight.... too much fame and fortune (remember in the original song.."the papers want to know whose shirts you wear.."), the Major becomes a drug addict, trying to stay clean.

On another level it may well be autobiographical. But I think there's a couple of problems with the autobiography angle. First, Bowie's never been in the closet about his drug problems. They're well documented in so many other areas, I'm wondering if it would be material for a song. Second, the drug addict in Ashes to Ashes has no money and no hair. Bowie has lots of both.

Whatever the case may be, this is a cool song and I like the discussion.
- Bill, Los Angeles, CA
Definitely Bowie's most personal lyrics. Ashes to Ashes is his autobiography.
- steph, Ottawa, Canada
Very awesome song I love the lines "Im happy hope your happy too" and "Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know Major Tom's a junkie" Great song
- Andrew, Springfield, MO
This for me is one of Bowie's undoubted moments of genius. I may be wrong but I always took this to be David outing his own drug issues in his own way. I see it as being about his very personal fight - 'I'm stuck with a valuable friend'
However, the obvious drug reference aside, DB being the god he is manages to make the whole piece the finest entree to a decade in popular music history, and using his first hit as a point of reference... genius just genius
- Charlotte, Norwich, United States
I always thought it was about drugs in some way
- Rian, London, United States
In the Young Ones episode "Nasty," when the priest (played by Python Terry Jones) begins the "Ashes to ashes..." speech in the graveyard, Rik (Mayall) buts in with "funk to funky, we know Major Tom's a junkie..." and gets smacked.
- Miriam, Highland Park, NJ
All Bowie's songs just rock! His lyrics are a masterpiece of the mind. If you ever have a chance to see him in concert go for it.
- Amy, McAlisterville, PA
this song is bizzarre, I see a few passing references to major tom, but I really don't see how it follows his character into space. Its more about drugs as far as I can tell>

--Strung out in heaven's high
Hitting an all-time low
--

Firstly the entire song is an acid trip, then at the end he's saying how he wants to stay clean.

--Time and again I tell myself
I'll stay clean tonight
But the little green wheels are following me
-

Want an axe to break the ice
Wanna come down right now---

etc. I really see it more as a song about how drugs affected Bowies life since his first hit space odditty.
- Louis, London, England
W0w, great music, very diffrent then in space oddity plus great lyrics.
worth hearing
- Ron, Jerusalem, Israel
The greatest pop recording of all time - the song progesses seemlessly through a series of changes in sound and mood. No other recording contains som many hook lines.
- tara, london, AZ
You have to to post comments.
Janis Ian: Married in London, but not in New YorkJanis Ian: Married in London, but not in New York
Can you be married in one country but not another? Only if you're part of a gay couple. One of the first famous singers to come out as a lesbian, Janis wrote a song about it.
Chris Robinson of The Black CrowesChris Robinson of The Black Crowes
"Great songwriters don't necessarily have hit songs," says Chris. He's written a bunch, but his fans are more interested in the intricate jams.
Jim McCarty of The YardbirdsJim McCarty of The Yardbirds
The Yardbirds drummer explains how they created their sound and talks about working with their famous guitarists.
Little Big TownLittle Big Town
"When seeds that you sow grow by the wicked moon/Be sure your sins will find you out/Your past will hunt you down and turn to tell on you."