Welcome to the Interstellar Jukebox, a new feature here at Sci-Fi Songs where I ask a bunch of great writers, bloggers, musicians, and podcasters to weigh in on some Sci-Fi related music topic. First Question:
What is Your Favorite "Space" Song?
Gareth L Powell
Gareth L Powell is a novelist and short story writer from the UK. He is a regular contributor to Interzone, and maintains a website at www.garethlpowell.com.
I discovered Patti Smith while at school, in the late 1980s. I'd been into the Velvet Underground for a couple of years, and I was just discovering and getting into all these cool American bands, like the Ramones and The Doors. I picked up a vinyl copy of her first album, Horses (1975), at a record store in Bristol, at the top of Park Street, opposite the museum. It was produced by John Cale, whose early albums I really liked, and Smith looked amazing on the sleeve, like some sort of hip androgynous alien, with this fuck-you attitude. I looked at it all the way home on the bus, turning it over and over in my hands. When I finally got it back to my room and put it on the turntable, it blew me away. It was arty and passionate and perfect, and it took no prisoners. It mixed reggae and rock with this spectacularly demented poetry; and Smith had this incredible voice that sounded beautiful and ugly all at the same time. I was 17 years old, and I played it over and over again.
"Space Monkey" is the second track on Smith's slightly patchier (but more commercially successful) third album, Easter (1978), and it's a prowling, swaggering chant of a song, buoyed up by cheery organ and driving bass. Without the vocals, it might almost sound like something by Talking Heads; but here, Smith dominates the music. She alternates spoken word passages with Jim Morrison growls, until the whole thing degenerates into panting and monkey screams.
Patrick Hester is an author, blogger, podcaster and functional nerd who hangs out and publishes his stuff at his blog, 'All things from my brain' over at www.atfmb.com and on his twitter feed at twitter.com/atfmb.
When you think of Stevie Ray Vaughan, an image probably comes to mind of a guy wearing a wide brimmed, black hat decorated with wide, silver discs. He's wearing a long white shirt with a dark vest and steel toed cowboy boots that are probably made from the hide of some reptile. He has a guitar (Number One), a Fender Stratocaster, slung across his shoulder with the letters 'S R V' emblazoned upon it. He's playing that guitar behind his back, sweat streaming down his face and hair, a look of concentration fixed upon his face.
John DeNardo separates his time between blogging at SF Signal (http://www.sfsignal.com) and putting out oil fires. One of those is a lie.
My favorite "space" song is "Space Oddity" by David Bowie. It captures the music of its day (1969) and tells a fantastic story that still has impact. And...is there any singer more science fictional than David Bowie?
Abby Holmes is a staff writer and music blogger for The Wenatchee World. Likes: Cats, myths and legends, pie, Led Zeppelin. Dislikes: Raisins, sports, spiders, “Who Let the Dogs Out.” Read her blogs at http://www.wenatcheeworld.com/weblogs/give-it-spin/ and follow her on Twitter: @abbytron.
“Space Oddity” by David Bowie
Kate Baker is the Podcast Director for Hugo and Fantasy award nominee, Clarkesworld Magazine. She has also narrated for StarShipSofa, Escape Pod, and Fantasy. When not tackling large piles of neglected literary fare, she has also been known to be a mother of three, an administrative professional, gamer, aspiring writer and a zombie. No, really.
I didn't realize how many "space" songs I actually had when I queried the word in Itunes. Incidentally, I have NO idea how "Space Jam" got on my playlist.
Don't look at me like that.
Curtis Silver is a bad-ass freelancer based in sunny Florida. He can currently be found writing at Wired.com, at Everyotherthursday.com and Shamable.com. You can reach him by holding out a long stick, his blog or on Twitter cracking wise.
I am not a musician. I fiddle from time to time on the guitar and can slap my hands on my jeans in some sort of rhythm. I'm a writer, so to have musical influences in my creative life I have to get very specific. I love music; my library of tunes is massive. There is a song for every situation, every emotion and every time of day. When asked however, to get minutely specific and write about how a song with "space" in the title (referencing outer space I'd have to assume) I had to sit back and take a long glance at my library. Less like a glance and more like a stare. Album by album, track by track. The names of songs long have eluded me, like the album count in the King Crimson discography.
Finding the right song that I could attribute to some sort of inspiration or telling moment in my creative development with the word "space" in the title seemed like such a daunting task. It turned out, it was pretty damn easy. I have chosen the song "Space Suit" by They Might be Giants. It appears as track number 38 on the album Apollo 18. The album came out in 1992 and was my first exposure to They Might be Giants, who have provided much inspiration over the years.
I had just turned 14 in 1992 and had traded a friend Pearl Jam's Ten for Apollo 18. I would of course re-buy Ten several years later. They Might be Giants took me away from my otherwise mundane life to a world full of contradictions and odd behavior. However, the one track that stuck with me was the one track with no lyrics at all, their lyrics being something TMBG is known for. Space Suit instead is an off worldly little trip that mystically blasts your imagination into the lower atmosphere and hangs there, looking down on the planet below. My art took that turn and that's when I began writing more as well.
I also noticed the quality of my writing changed as well around this time. I stopped writing serious prose and crappy teen angst poetry and turned to actual writing that was the groundwork for getting paid for it someday. The shit started to make sense! Looking back, it was still pretty sub-par writing (as if this is Pulitzer Prize winning material) but it was better than before. I suppose that could be attributed to just maturing and spending less time by myself in the bathroom. No, not that. I ate a lot of fiber. Get your head out of the gutter.
There was a lot going on in my life then, besides my writing and art. There were girls, whom I looked at from across the room but didn't talk to. There were sports, for which I played but was never really anything close to an all-star at. There were other things too, like switching from candy cigarettes to real ones and then chewing tobacco. Can I attribute all that to the music too? Did "Space Suit" inspire me to take up tobacco use? Doubtful. Though I can think of a couple songs that might have. Like anything from Nirvana. No, that stuff, while excellent, makes me want to do naughty things with a shotgun. Too soon?
I had also just been recruited into the Green Lantern Corps as well. I remember traveling through the Universe, playing interstellar detective, and listening to that song on my portable CD player. Mind you, the CD player didn't work so well on planets with a high concentration of nitrogen, but I would just aim my lantern ring at it and it'd start right up again. It was a great tune for when I had just savagely beaten the Weaponers of Qward and was propelling back into the stars. Then Sinestro took my CD player one day because the jerk claimed it had some of the yellow crystal in it or something like that. I knocked three of his teeth out, but my CD player was ruined in the battle. This was a devastating event for me. That CD player was the only way I was able to make interstellar travel not so damn boring. Let me tell you, Killowog is no conversationalist.
When I returned to Earth, I bought the CD and kept on with my writing, further inspired by never having to fight crime outside of my bedroom. I wrote three bestsellers within the next four years; sadly none of them were ever finished or actually sold. Ok, I didn't actually write any novels. But I was inspired to. That counts right?
Basically trying to pick out one song that inspires is a daunting task. Yes, I have many songs in my music library that have the word "space" in them. Can I say that they really inspired me? I have no freaking clue. It's doubtful. The way I see it, musicians are inspired by music, writers are inspired by writers. Music may provide a muse or perhaps a creative inflection that sparks when the right music is being played. These days I write best to music from artist such as Porcupine Tree, BT, Lemon Jelly and of course, King Crimson. While I can't pinpoint an exact song or even a particular album that directly inspires my work, I can say that as a whole - the music provides a great setting for my creative juices to flow. The writing is my porn, the music is the fluffer.
How's that for inspiring? Boo-ya!
Justin Macumber is a writer and podcaster trying to make his way through this strange new digital world. Find out more at www.justinmacumber.comI love music. I mean, I really love music. I love the way it can speak to the human heart and soul in ways that words or paint or pictures can't. It's an immediate and deep connection. And, of all the instruments I've heard played, my favorite is by far the guitar. Whether it's acoustic or electric, six-stringed or twelve, played flat, normal, or upright, the guitar is a wondrous tool that can cut and soothe in equal measures. My most beloved guitarist of all time is Joe Satriani. The man... is without peer. Sometimes when I hear him play it's as though his hands were touched by God. What I love most about him is that while he's technically brilliant, he never lets the technique get in the way of the song, or overshadow it. For him music is about the melody, not the number of notes he can hit in a ten second stretch. And, a song of his in particular that I enjoy is the title song from his album "Is There Love In Space?" Joe's no stranger to songs with a light, emotional touch, and "Is There Love In Space?" is one great song in a string of them about what makes all our hearts beat. His best album, in my opinion, has a bit of a "space" title - "Crystal Planet." That album... it just amazes me. Hearing him play, hearing his technique and his heart playing in such syncronicity makes me want to be that much better of a writer. I will listen to his music until the day my ears grow quiet.