the amazing italian space oddity

Estimated reading time is 5 minutes.

DAVID BOWIE’S “SPACE ODDITY” was released in mid-1969. In Italy, new lyrics were composed that transformed the tale of Major Tom’s dilemma in outer space into a unique Italian Space Oddity. This “new” song was titled “Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola,” which translates to “Lonely Boy, Lonely Girl.” This version was eventually recorded by Bowie himself.

The regular version of Space Oddity (“Ground control to Major Tom”) was not a hit when released in Italy in mid-1969. Lyricist and translator Giulio Rapetti, who used the pseudonym Mogol, provided new lyrics for the song. Mogol had co-written several songs that had become international hits.

In the amazing Italian Space Oddity, the opening line of “Ground Control to Major Tom” becomes “My mind just took off.”

These include Uno Dei Tanti, which was adapted by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and turned into I (Who Have Nothing), which was a hit for Ben E. King in 1961, and Piangi Con Me, which was adapted by P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri into Let’s Live For Today, which was a hit for the Grassroots in 1967.

For Space Oddity, Mogol’s lyrics had nothing to do with Major Tom’s predicament in space but instead addressed the loneliness of two people. This new song was titled Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola, which translates into an almost indecipherable song about a lonely boy and a lonely girl.

 

Italian Space Oddity: Italian picture sleeve for David Bowie's "Space Oddity" single of 1969.
This is the Italian picture sleeve for David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” from 1969 (BW-704-201). This recording failed to generate any interest or chart action.

My mind just took off

There are several translations of this song on the internet, all somewhat baffling to English readers. I took the translation below from the David Bowie Wonderworld website. Since I have no clue as to their accuracy (or any of the other translations on the internet), I did not add any punctuation.

My mind just took off
One thought only one
I walk while the city sleeps

Her eyes in the night
White lanterns in the night
A voice that talks to me who will it be?

Tell me lonely boy where are you going to,
Why so much pain?
You lost without doubt a great love
But the city is full of loves

No lonely girl no no no
This time you are mistaken
I didn’t just lose a great love
Last night I lost everything with her.

But her
The colors of the city
Of the blue skies
One like her I’ll never find again.

Now lonely boy where will you go?
The night is a big sea
If you need my hand to swim
Thank you but tonight I would like to die
Because you know in my eyes
There is an angel an angel
That now does not fly any more that now does not
fly any more
That now does not fly any more

There is her
The colors of life
Of the blue skies
One like her I’ll never find again.

 

Italian Space Oddity: Italian picture sleeve for the Computer's single "Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola" from 1969.
This is the picture sleeve for the Computer’s single “Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola” from 1969 (Numero Uno ZN-50018). This recording failed to generate any interest or chart action.

The Computers’ Italian Space Oddity

Using an arrangement and production lifted straight from Bowie’s record, brothers Gabriele and Mario Balducci called themselves the Computers and released Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola as a single in Italy in late 1969 (Numero Uno ZN-50018). It was not a big hit.

Avid Record Collector’s Price Guide

Both the record and picture sleeve for Numero Uno ZN-50018 are relatively easily found for sale on the internet in used condition. But near mint copies are more difficult to find and the two together have a suggested value in that condition of $20-30.

 

Italian Space Oddity: A-side of the Italian picture sleeve for David Bowie's "Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola" single from 1970.

Italian Space Oddity: B-side of the Italian picture sleeve for David Bowie's "Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola" single from 1970.
These are the front and back covers for the picture sleeve to David Bowie’s “Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola” from 1970 (Philips BW-704-208). This recording failed to generate any interest or chart action.

Bowie’s Italian Space Oddity

In an attempt to perhaps counter the Computer’s record, in late 1969, Bowie recorded a new vocal with the new lyrics over the Space Oddity instrumental track. This new Bowie record was released in early 1970 as Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola (Philips BW-704-208).

I could not find much information about this record but it seemed to have had less than dazzling results on the Italian pop charts.

Avid Record Collector’s Price Guide

This is another major (at least in terms of value on the collectors’ market) collectible for Bowie and picture sleeve collectors. The record and picture sleeve for Philips BW-704-208 are both rather rare in any condition, selling for hundreds of dollars in even VG condition. 

In near mint condition, the record and sleeve together have a suggested value of $800-1,200.

 

Italian Space Oddity: A-side of the Italian picture sleeve for reissue of David Bowie's "Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola" single from 1982.

Italian Space Oddity: A-side of the Italian picture sleeve for reissue of David Bowie's "Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola" single from 2106.
This limited edition from 2016 was pressed on blue vinyl by Parlophone and has “Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola” backed with “London Bye Ta-Ta.” The copy above is still factory-sealed.

The night is a big sea

In 1982, RCA released an edited version of Bowie’s Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola as a promotional record (RCA PB-6637). The record was shipped with a special picture sleeve featuring a photo on the sleeve was a previously unused image from 1969. 

Avid Record Collector’s Price Guide

This is another rather rare record and sleeve in the Bowie catalog of collectibles. The record and the picture sleeve together for RCA PB-6637 have a suggested near mint value of $200-300.

 

Italian Space Oddity: A-side of the Italian picture sleeve for reissue of David Bowie's "Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola" single from 2106.
This limited edition from 2016 was pressed on blue vinyl by Parlophone and has “Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola” backed with “London Bye Ta-Ta.” The copy above is still factory-sealed.

This time you are mistaken

Various legitimate reissues (a limited edition on blue vinyl from Parlophone), unauthorized reproductions (i.e., attempted counterfeits), and a few outright bootleg versions (white labels promos) of Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola exist.

The Parlophone record was sold exclusively at the exhibition “David Bowie Is” at the MAMbo Museum in Bologna, Italy, in 2016. A second limited edition was available in Italy for Record Store Day 2017.

Most of these items have values comfortably under $50 . . .

In the amazing Italian Space Oddity, ‘Ground Control to Major Tom’ becomes ‘My mind just took off.’ Share on X

Italian Space Oddity: photo of David Bowie from the photo sessions for his album for Philips Records from 1969.

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is an outtake from the photo sessions used on Bowie’s second album (Philips in the UK, Mercury in the US). It was used in some advertisements for the album.

 


 

Leave a Comment