Thursday, October 19, 2006

They've Got One Leaving Today...

UPDATE 3 (seeing as everyone still seems to be reading this one): A mini Milky Way and a half-chewed lego spaceman are even now on their way to commenter SEAN MCMANUS, who has very correctly pointed out that 'Walking On The Moon' by The Police is a bad pop song about space. Nice work Sean!


There I was, innocently writing a brochure about something or other, when my lovely colleague D. appeared on MSN Messenger claiming that there aren't very many pop songs about space.

What rot, thought I. There are LOADS of pop songs about space. There's practically the entire oeuvre of the Pixies, for a start, and most of early David Bowie. There's 'Yuri G' by PJ Harvey, in which she threatens to do all manner of saucy things to the moon while masquerading as Yuri Gagarin. And there's the Dukes of Stratosphear*'s 'Bike Ride To The Moon', in which Andy Partridge chivalrously hops on his BMX in order to protect the moon from the West Country temptress's saucy advances.

There's Tasmin Archer's 'Sleeping Satellite', in which she bemoans the fact that we ever went to the moon in the first place, probably because in doing so we exposed it to the corrupting influence of a flawed Mankind (exemplified by PJ Harvey's saucy advances). There's 'Higher Than The Sun' by Primal Scream, which probably isn't about space at all, come to think of it, but it can still go in because it's ace. There's the Prodigy's 'Outer Space'. There's 'Rocket Man' by Elton John. There's 'Another Girl, Another Planet' by the Only Ones, which is surely one of the greatest songs of all time.

In fact I put it to you, readers, that not only are there loads of songs about space, but they are all, without exception, completely brilliant.

A mini Milky Way and a half chewed lego spaceman to anyone who can prove me wrong!


* UPDATE: XTC, sorry. There goes my lucrative guest-editing spot on the OMM.

UPDATE 2: No, I was right the first time. Hurrah! Lucrative guest-editing spot on the OMM, please.

31 comments:

First Nations said...

'Planet Claire' by the B-52's.
just needed mentioning.

Billy said...

Nothing to do with spaced-themed songs but I was curious if you were planning to go and see Lambchop at the Shep Bush Empire on Monday. Tickets are still available apparently.

occasional poster of comments said...

It occurs to me to mention "Spaceman" by Babylon Zoo. Make of that what you will.

Betty said...

Galaxy Of Love by Crown Heights Affair, Spacer by Sheila And B Devotion, I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper by Hot Gossip, cough splutter. Probably quite a few things by Parliament and Funkadelic ...

There must be masses of space-themed songs. If you are particularly unlucky I might be back with an even longer and more tedious list ...

patroclus said...

FN: I don't know that one, but I would probably like it.

Billy: I would, I really would. But I am totally skint, and all gigs are off the menu for the foreseeable future, bah.

OPC: You see, I really liked 'Spaceman' by Babylon Zoo. I really don't think there's a song about space that I don't like. 'Stars' by Simply Red was suggested to me, but that doesn't count because I'm pretty sure I've never heard it, and if I have, I probably filtered it out again immediately.

Betty: Lists are very welcome here, I like lists.

chuffy! said...

'Another Girl Another Planet' is about heroin, not space, or girls for that matter. (Yes, there are many songs about space, but there are many more about hard drugs. Additionally, most of the ones you think are about space are probably about powder and pills anyway. I certainly don't trust that Taupin).

I do hope all the advertisers/'match of the day' edit-monkeys who use the song are aware of this, in the same way that Foster's must be aware of the inconvenient fact of their current adtrack being written by Jonathan King, unless that's an urban myth that I've just fallen prey to or started...

Incidentally, best space lyric: 'I saw two shooting stars last night, I wished on them but they were only satellites, it's wrong to wish on space hardware, oh how I wish you cared'. I'm told that Billy Bragg now changes the lyrics of his songs to namecheck both Donald Rumsfeld *and* Peter Crouch.

Anonymous said...

I didn't really like that song 'Spaceman' don't know who sang it though. That Christmas one sucks too.
I'm going to see Lambchop next week in Belfast, what a coincidence.

nibus said...

Ah, XTC. In the early days their songs were all about rayguns and rockets and jetpacks and things. Now they're all about sheds and daisies and court jesters. And Swindon. Perhaps Swindon is the anti-space.

nibus said...

Then, I started thinking about things like Biosphere's Patashnik and Space by Space and Earth to Infinity by Deep Space Network and ten million other early 90s tracks by ambient trance geeks, before I realised you'd said 'pop songs'. Oops.

Smat said...

not pop songs as such, but have a look at http://www.acme.com/jef/singing_science/
lots of songs about space amongst other things.

Tim Footman said...

Funny you should mention this... only a few days ago I was trying to place Radiohead within the space-rock continuum, which essentially means "How similar are they to Hawkwind". Hawkwind, of course, wrote lots of songs about space that were really about drugs. I'd guess that at least half the space songs mentioned so far fall under this heading (except for the Tamsin Archer one, because she looks like the sort of girl who'd have moral qualms about LemSip.)

Anyway, that in mind... 'Saturn Five' by Inspiral Carpets, as well as 'Comet Theme No 5' and 'Tiger Woods Astronaut' (from the album The Compact Guide To Pop Music and Space Travel by the underrated Inspirals splinter band The Clint Boon Experience); 'Astronomy Domine' and 'Interstellar Overdrive' by Pink Floyd when they were good; 'Telstar' by the Tornadoes; 'I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship' by the Legendary Stardust Cowboy (later covered by Bowie); 'Subterranean Homesick Alien' by Radiohead (sorry); the 1969 album Into Outer Space With Lucia Pamela, which the artist claimed to have recorded on the moon; 'Kelly Watch The Stars' by Air (from Moon Safari; 'Girl From Mars' by Ash; 'Outta Space' by Jimi Tenor; Holst's Planets Suite...

Oh, yeah, and Sun Ra was born on Saturn.

Tim Footman said...

Bum. I just realised, you only want BAD songs about space.

'Star Trekkin'' by The Firm?

patroclus said...

Chuffy! You raise a good point. It would be nice if one day a rock band took it upon themselves to write a song that seemed to be about heroin, but which was actually about making a Caesar salad or cleaning the chimney.

Realdoc: Aye, 'tis the season for alt.country gigs, it being all autumnal and that.

Smat: Oo, that looks like fun. Also, is that the website of the original 'jefrey with one f jefrey'? Because if so, we have some kind of serendipitous aesthetic unity.

Tim: You had me at 'space-rock continuum'. And 'Star Trekkin'' by The Firm was GREAT, simply because it was about Star Trek, which puts it up there with 'Doctorin' the Tardis' by the KLF (or whatever guise they were in at the time).

wv: kipbsnok - a Finnish snake that sleeps a lot.

patroclus said...

Oops, and:

Nibus: I really meant 'pop songs' in the broadest sense of the term, in which case early 90s ambient trance pioneers definitely count, but are they bad? I don't think so.

ScroobiousScrivener said...

And there's Cosmic Girl by Jamiroquai. Personally I would say this disproves your point, except that I seem to be all alone on this planet in my loathing of Jamiroquai, so I'll just add it to the list of space songs.

Yay Star Trekkin!

Betty said...

It looks as if I also missed the bit about you wanting examples of bad pop songs about outer space. Hah! Terrible observational skills, must try harder.

A lot of songs use space imagery as a metaphor for drug use, which is probably why they're so good. Not that I'd recommend heavy drug use to any youngsters reading, heh heh. You might end up like Russell Brand.

ScroobiousScrivener - you're not alone in hating Jamiroquai. Most people I know think he is an egotistical w*nker.

Loganoc said...

Satellite of Love, Lou Reed. Ahhhh! Fantastic Song. Which I will have in my head for the rest of the day now.

patroclus said...

Worst space lyric:

People on the street, there are many many/People on the moon, there ain't any any

Thanks for that profound insight, Jamie Lidell.

Geoff said...

Everyone's Gone To The Moon?

Geoff said...

Sorry for the 2nd mention of Jonathan King.

Jack Spanners said...

Hey Pat, how's it going?

Dark Side of the Moon - I know, it's an album.
Bark at the Moon - Ozzie Ozbourne
A song by OMD, the title of which escapes me. It has lyrics along the lines of: "Man you should have seen us, something something Venus..."
Whole of the Moon - The Waterboys
Moon Shadow - Cat Stevens
Blue Moon - Various

Actually, most of these are about the Moon really. Maybe I'll just stick to lurking.

First Nations said...

no no no, I meant that 'Planet Claire' was worthy of mention as another great space song, but then i realized too late that you were soliciting crappy space songs and i dont know any, and, crap. just crap.

cello said...

Oh, wow. Bit late but as Tim has taken us into my territory here goes:

Hymn to the Moon from Dvorak's Rusalka.
The Sun Whose Rays from the Mikado.
Mozart's Jupiter Symphony.
Venusberg music from Wagner's Tannhauser.
Caster et Pollux by Rameau
Ave Maris Stella from Monteverdi Vespers.
Various arias from Neptune, Mercury Venus or Pluto from a wide range of operas/operattas.

But my fave is Now The Great Bear and Pleiades from Peter Grimes by Britten. A shattering aria.

Has anyone said Telstar by The Shadows yet?

patroclus said...

Jack Spanners! How lovely to see you! Yes, it appears that many songs about space are actually about the moon. Although the moon is 'in' space (although so is the Earth and all who sail in her, which technically makes every song a song about space, I think I'll stop now before my brain goes funny) so they all count. But are they bad?

I'm inclined to forgive Jamiroquai (the poor man's Jamie Lidell) for 'Cosmic Girl' (making the whole exercise completely self-defeating, because to my mind every song about space is automatically a good song, by virtue of its subject matter), but it *is* by far the best nomination so far.

Cello: these are classy nominations indeed. I would say that Rameau's Castor et Pollux would probably show 'Star Trekkin'' by The Firm up slightly, if they were on a compilation together.

Snackspot said...

top trivia: critical opinion seems to agree that Tasmin Archer's "Sleeping Satellite" is actually complaining about going to the moon for the wrong reasons ("Did we fly to the moon to soon/ did we squander the chance/ in the rush of the race?" etc), and the detrimental effect this has had on subsequent space exploration. More at: (should you care!)

http://www.songmeanings.net/lyric.php?lid=127171

"I think it is simply about mankind's having dropped the ball on space exploration, especially lunar development, after we went to the moon.

In the chorus she "blames" mankind for the lost potential, which the moonlight reminds her of (but she doesn't blame the moon itself - the sleeping satellite). She wonders why the seas are still dry there (when presumably they could be filled with man's development).

In the first verse, she believes we rushed to the moon for the adventure and the race, but have missed the long term possibilities to build upon that for the future. "

patroclus said...

I think she writes for the Economist these days.

Had we followed Mr Spoon, as we were encouraged to do, things might have been a lot different.

cello said...

Whoops. Sorry about the Castor et Pollux cock-up. I was still in Siralan ode, I guess.

Sean McManus said...

Stars by Simply Red is rubbish. It was all over the radio like a rash when I lived in Germany. Spaceman by Babylon Zoo was great though.

What about 'Walking on the Moon' by the Police? That's been known to make grown men cry. Admittedly only when they try to sing it.

There's a song by Prince on his underrated album 'Come' called Space. There's a song by folk supremos Huw & Tony Williams about how 'a desert can be bigger than space' that goes on about why we're sending people to the moon while not everyone here has enough to eat. Apart from the Dark Side of the Moon, there's lots of space stuff in early Floyd - such as Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, Astronomy Domine, Interstellar Overdrive. They Might be Giants did an album called 'Apollo 18' that included an instrumental track 'Spacesuit'.

And let us (please!) not forget Star Trekkin' by The Firm. Now I've reminded you of it, you'll be humming it all afternoon.

Sean McManus said...

Sorry - didn't read the previous comments properly so some of mine came up already. Got to stick up for Star Trekkin though!

patroclus said...

Excellent - the space songs debate rumbles on! I loathe Sting and anything to do with him, so 'Walking On The Moon' will do nicely as a bad song about space, thanks Sean.

I don't think anyone's disputing the tip-top quality of 'Star Trekkin'', apart from Mr Footman, and the rest of us could easily have him in a bundle, if it came to it.

And I'm ashamed to say I don't know any early Pink Floyd, but I do know Barry Adamson's 'Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Pelvis', which is a) quite rude and b) not about space. But it does have Jarvis Cocker groaning about asthma inhalers on it.

Next up: Why are there no pop songs about lawnmowers?

Jack Spanners said...

Not a song *about* lawnmowers as such, but the Talking Hedas song "Nothing but Flowers" contains the line:

If this is Paradise, I wish I had a lawn mower.

Top song, as well.