Bowie’s ‘Starman’ and other songs for a spacewalk

Bowie’s ‘Starman’ and other songs for a spacewalk

(CNN) — Countdown to Next Spacewalk: On Thursday, September 9, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov will stretch their legs on a five-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station.

Any spacewalk is a momentous occasion, speaking of the brilliant efforts of generations of scientists, astronauts, politicians, and civilians. They can be seen on the television channel or the NASA website and tune into what can be a long and quiet meditation.

Whether you’re watching it live or on video, there’s not much need for sound, since no one in space can hear you walking.

Instead, open another tab in your browser for YouTube and enjoy a heavenly soundtrack. We have selected several songs for you that you can add.

Let’s kick off our set with Spiritualized’s 1997 song “Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space. A sci-fi-tinged waltz, it’s a relaxing hymn, something that people on Earth all too often overlook, such as the peasant ignores Icarus as he rushes from the sky into the painting long attributed to Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Listen to the little tracks from “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” a 1961 song that helped wrap around Elvis Presley’s return from military service. And why not? Elvis, after all, is somewhere floating in space himself and looking out for us, if not in Roswell.

Somewhat literally, here’s Depeche Mode’s heavenly ditty “Spacewalker” from the electronic band’s 2009 album they appropriately named “Sounds of the Universe.”

Spacewalks happen now, but one day – trusting our futuristic and science fiction writers – we will have colonized distant planets, and there will be truckers (think Han Solo) scouring the stars, bringing in Alpha Centauri goodies and aiming beyond what they are. Earthlings deserve. Let Deep Purple tell the story in their 1972 song “Space Truckin ‘,” seen and heard in this chaotically energetic live version from 1973.

One thing is for sure: with all that hair, no one back then could have worn a space helmet.

It is logical that other creatures from outer space arrive before us. And when they do, to rely on Steven Spielberg’s classic 1977 film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” they’ll want to do an endurance race with their Earth counterparts – a scenario that Joe Dolce’s 1981 song “Ain’t No UFO Gonna Catch My Diesel “continues in vivid style Texas two-step, as offered by Them Fargo Brothers.

To keep joking around for a bit, here’s a Django Reinhardt-style jazz exercise performed by the ever-tongue-in-cheek singer and guitarist Dan Hicks. Take a ride on an alien ship? Right, Hicks says in his 1989 song with his Acoustic Warriors, aka Singing Martianettes, on “Hell I Go.” Already on track listen to “The Twilight Zone”.

Once upon a time there was a band called Jefferson Airplane. When science fiction-obsessed guitarist Paul Kantner took over after the band’s founding members began to drift away, that band became Jefferson Starship, and Kantner, Grace Slick, and company took off into uncharted galaxies. Here’s a beautiful song from the 1970s called “Have You Seen the Stars Tonight”, hosted by members of the Grateful Dead, and with the help of David Crosby and Graham Nash.

Kantner and company were undoubtedly immersed in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which mixed visual psychedelia with some of the best standard melodies in the classical repertoire.

Many survivors of the 1960s cannot listen to Richard Strauss without thinking of Kubrick’s classic. Here are two takes from Strauss’s 1896 tonal poem “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” one symphonic version and the other that was a hit under the disco ball.

Elton John’s 1972 song “Rocket Man” has become iconic to the point of becoming a cliché, thanks to its frequent use in television commercials. Yet it deserves to be rescued and listened to with fresh ears – its melody and thoughtful lyrics are what make it so memorable, after all.

Elton John in “Top of the Pops” on April 1, 1972.

Here’s the official video, which strangely wasn’t filmed until 2017, 45 years after the song was released on Elton’s fifth studio album, “Honky Château.” Then listen to the charming reggae-tinged version of Kate Bush, bringing new life to the Elton John and Bernie Taupin classic.

George Clinton may tell you he’s from North Carolina, Glenn Goins from suburban New Jersey, and Bootsy Collins from Cincinnati, but don’t believe them for a moment. They are from somewhere in outer space, and this video proves it. Over the course of 10 hilarious minutes, Parliament brings his 1975 classic “Mothership Connection (Star Child)” directly to Mission Control in Houston. Get on and hold on tight.

(As a bonus, let’s add some Sun Ra Arkestra as well, since Sun Ra, who died in 1993, landed on our planet from Saturn, or so he said, long before the members of the Parlament-Funkadelic arrived. This concert NPR’s “Tiny Desk” ends with one of Sun Ra’s best known songs, “Interplanetary Music”).

Speaking of aliens — and thanks to the stars he chose to fall to Earth — singer-songwriter David Bowie was one of our leading musical performers from the far reaches of outer space. Very early in his solo career, just nine days before the Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle landed on the moon, Bowie released his 1969 song “Space Oddity,” introducing us to the enigmatic and lonely Major Tom.

A few years later, in tune with the cosmos, he wrote the wonderful song “Starman”, which appears on his 1972 album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”.

Finally, thinking of those astronauts and spaceships making their way into outer space, let’s give The Beatles the last word with “Across the Universe.” John Lennon is also floating around …

Watch the sneak peek of the documentary about The Beatles 0:57

Gregory McNamee writes about books, science, food, geography, and other topics from his home in Arizona.

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Bowie’s ‘Starman’ and other songs for a spacewalk