Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ground Control to Major Tom

I haven't done many song translations lately, I've been so busy with so many different types of work, this activity that used to take my spare time while waiting for meetings, for movies, while sitting at intersections, riding in planes and so on, has fallen by the wayside in terms of my schedule. This used to be a regular exercise I would do to keep my Chamorro creativity going and active. But lately that part of me has been used up for other pursuits, including story-writing in the Chamorro language.

But I recently rewatched the remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and loved the way they incorporated "Space Oddity" by David Bowie into the narrative. After listening to it again and again over the past two week, I really think I want to translate it into Chamorro. Not only because I like it, but because it is in-line with my philosophy of expanding the possibilities for Chamorro and just using Chamorro for everything I like or love or find passion in. In the song, we follow the conversation between Major Tom an astronaut who is on an important space mission and Ground Control, which is, other than his ability to see the world from space, his only connection to home. I like the idea of Chamorro being used to describe a man being lost in space, floating in space, I like the idea of having my translation metaphorically have the Chamorro language travel and transgress its own boundaries.

"Space Oddity"
by David Bowie

Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills
and put your helmet on

Ground Control to Major Tom
Commencing countdown,
engines on
Check ignition
and may God's love be with you

[spoken]
Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Liftoff

This is Ground Control
to Major Tom
You've really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
Now it's time to leave the capsule
if you dare

This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating
in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do

Though I'm past
one hundred thousand miles
I'm feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much
she knows

Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit's dead,
there's something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you....

Here am I floating
round my tin can
Far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do.


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