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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Astronaut Covers ‘Space Oddity\' From Space

A cover version of David Bowie's “Space Oddity,” recorded on board the International Space Station by the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

The Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who has documented his five months in charge of the International Space Station in great detail in Twitter photographs and YouTube videos, celebrated his last day aboard the craft by releasing an elaborately produced cover version of David Bowie's “Space Oddity.”

Among the many admirers of the astronaut's remarkable music video, which was viewed more than a million times in the 18 hours after it was posted on YouTube, were the editors of Mr. Bowie's official Facebook page, who praised the cover as “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created.”

Unlike most 53-year-old Bowie fans who record cover versions of his hits around the office in their spare time, Mr. Hadfield, who is scheduled to return to Earth on Monday in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, had the benefit of shooting in a zero-gravity work station with stunning views and help from a musician who once toured with Mr. Bowie.

The Canadian musician Emm Gryner, who sang with Mr. Bowie in 2000, explained in a post on her blog that she was happy to collaborate with the astronaut. “Chris is a musician and a pretty damn good one at that,” Ms. Gryner wrote late Sunday. “When Chris brought up collaborating while he was on this current mission I of course said yes with a capital Y-E-S and we went back and forth for a while figuring out what our collaboration might entail. When he told me he wanted to cover ‘Space Oddity' I was over the moon - pardon the pun.”

She added:

The task was in front of me. I came up with a piano part. I then enlisted my friend, producer and fellow Canadian Joe Corcoran to take my piano idea and Chris's vocal and blow it up into a fully produced song. Drums! Mellotrons! Fuzz bass! We also incorporated into the track ambient space station noises which Chris had put on his SoundCloud. I was mostly blown away by how pure and earnest Chris's singing is on this track. Like weightlessness and his voice agreed to agree.

And voila! An astronaut sings “Space Oddity” in space!

As the CBC reports, Mr. Hadfield's embrace of social networks to post sounds, images and video from space has earned him a huge following:

When he left Earth on Dec. 19, he had 20,000 Twitter followers, a number that has grown to more than 824,000 today. Followers come from around the world, and have been particularly intrigued by his much-praised photos of places on the globe.

Eighty-one videos of his I.S.S. experiences have proved an unexpected hit for the Canadian Space Agency, generating 22 million views.

Before the “Space Oddity” clip, the astronaut's most popular YouTube clip was a demonstration of what happens when you wring the water out of a washcloth in space.

Among the sounds of the space station Mr. Hadfield recorded for his SoundCloud page was one titled “Spacewalk Pressure Equalization.”

As the Guardian blogger Paul Owen noted, the astronaut was fully aware of the fact that many of the photographs of Earth he posted on his @Cmdr_Hadfield Twitter feed from the space station resembled abstract expressionist paintings.

In his last hours on the station on Monday, Mr. Hadfield continued to share the experience with his Twitter followers.