The cover of "A Space Oddity" by Chris Hadfield, International Space Station commander, is going galactically viral Monday.
But it was a decidedly terrestrial affair. And it centered on a Silver Lake producer and a Canadian singer who once did vocals for Bowie, say those who were involved.
Hadfield, who already reset the bar for social media with his tweets from space, is a talented singer and guitarist. He sat in with many a Canadian musician, and joined singer-songwriter Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies last month for a rendition of “Is Somebody Singing,” which the two co-wrote.
Written as a tribute to the International Space Station, the song is a kind of “We Are the World” that is sweeping Canada of late. He and about a million fellow Canadians, mostly schoolchildren, sang it together last week. Hadfield is the first Canadian astronaut to command a mission on the station.
“I felt pretty lucky that I got included in this,” said Joe Corcoran, a Toronto-born producer and musician who lives and works in Silver Lake. “It’s a pretty unique thing to say, ‘We did most of the production here on Earth.’ ”
By "here on Earth," Corcoran means his home in Silver Lake.
A few years ago, Hadfield approached longtime friend and fellow Ontario native Emm Gryner, a singer-songwriter and one-time background vocalist for Bowie, to work up a piano arrangement of “A Space Oddity.” She tapped Corcoran, who had worked with her before, and the project took flight.
Only the vocals and guitar were recorded in space, and the video, produced by Hadfield’s son, Evan, and Andrew Tidby, was synced with the audio tracks – just as it’s done for music videos here on Earth.
Hadfield sent a rough track of just the vocals to Corcoran, who mapped the arrangement around it, adding Gryner’s piano, and some ambient sounds that Hadfield recorded in the space station. They can be heard swelling through the trippy, expansive interludes of the Bowie classic.
“The funny thing about the process for me is it was really similar to making songs here,” Corcoran said. “A lot of people work from home and they just send sound files back and forth.”
These files took a bit longer, but only because they were routed through NASA channels, Corcoran said. It was glitch-free, otherwise. “I believe he did it on an iPad,” Corcoran said. “It’s really stable. You can get a program that’s pretty simple to use.”
Like any vocalist, Hadfield provided Corcoran with several rough tracks from which to choose. “He’s really a talented musician and quite a guitar player,” Corcoran said.
Gryner agreed. “Chris is a musician and a pretty damn good one at that,” Gryner wrote in her blog. “Over the years we've dueted at my shows - everything from Lightfoot to Blue Rodeo. Hell, he even stole the show one night when I mistakenly allowed him to play his own song. Never, ever again. Like, ever.”
After the video took off, she heard from her fellow Ontarian: “OMG just got off the phone w @Cmdr_Hadfield who signed off saying "see ya when I get back to Earth"...and I got chills” Gryner tweeted earlier Monday.
Corcoran, who had been a bit of an idler on Twitter, has been inundated with social media traffic in the past 24 hours.
Hadfield is slated to touch down Monday night in the steppes of Kazakhstan.