Houston to Major Tom: a song for shipwrecked souls (new track by the Parzen Family Singers)

Above: the Parzen Family Singers covers David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” (for better audio quality, check out the SoundCloud below).

Every since the Parzen family moved to Houston nearly two and a half years ago, our daughters and I have been obsessed with astronauts (the “real astronauts,” as the girls call them) and NASA’s Johnson Space Center, which lies about 40 minutes away by car from the house where we live in southwest Houston.

The girls and I go there once or twice a month (Tracie P, not so much).

Somewhere along our journey into space, we came across this video-cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who recorded vocals and an acoustic guitar overdub for the track on the International Space Station.

That YouTube led us to our obsession (especially Georgia P’s) with this vintage David Bowie video version of the original song, shot on analog film.

Major Tom and our beloved “real astronauts” have become central to the Parzen family narrative.

Our daughters — ages 3 and 4.5 — don’t yet tap into the astronauts as metaphors for the unknown and unknowable. I’m not really sure where the appeal lies for them. I am certain however that like dinosaurs, astronauts are an interminable source of fascination for (our) children, perhaps because they innately intuit their significance in the unsignifiable.

For me, Major Tom and the real astronauts (like Ulysses) are allegories for our own shipwrecked souls and the human condition driven by our very real need and desire to face our aloneness (tell my wife, I love her very much, she knows…).

It’s so powerful to sit in the original gallery of the original Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center and hear the docent recount the 1969 moon landing.

“The first time words were heard from the moon,” she said on our most recent visit (with my bromance Giovanni), “they were heard in this room. That’s pretty cool.”

(Our dear friend Elaine also visited the real astronauts with us earlier this year.)

Like Columbus, like Magellan, like Ulysses, the real astronauts travel into the unknown so that we may know it, making the unknowable knowable. They haven’t unlocked the mystery of the universe and our existence. But with each step they take, they chip away at and assuage our aloneness.

And so on this sleepy Friday, the hottest day of summer so far, I offer you the Parzen Family Singers’ cover (SoundCloud follows below and the YouTube lies above).

One giant step for a middle-aged wine blogger… Thanks for listening.

girls in space

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