Congratulations and farewell to the European Space Agency's SMART-1 moon probe, which went out in a blaze of glory this weekend, following a three-year career. SMART-1's innovative gradual-orbit-increase trajectory allowed it to complete its mission within a promisingly small budget. In honor of that and film critic extraordinaire Alan Vanneman's salute to National Make Fun of Star Trek Day, here's some far-out skylarking to round out your Labor Day:
If we could make a Rykodisc compilation of space/astronaut songs, what would we include? You've got the obvious picks: Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love," both versions of "Rocket Man," "Space Oddity," "Space Cowboy," Spizzenergi's "Where's Captain Kirk?" What else? It seems like there was a period from about 1968 to 1977 when every band on the planet released at least one space-related tune. There must be whole space rock operas in there somewhere. Does Blondie's "Rapture" make the cut for its lousy men-from-mars-eating-cars rap? Does anybody write space-related lyrics anymore?
I owe this idea to Gillespie, who once had an even better idea for a compilation CD of rock orientalism: Carl Douglas' "Kung Fu Fighting," Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Hong Kong Garden," David Bowie's "China Girl," Oingo Boingo's "Reptiles and Samurai," and so on. Contributions to that great moment in cross-cultural exchange are also welcome.
Special Buttinsky Update: I hate to horn in on a post not of my own making, but Cavanaugh gives me props for inspiration above and I'll do anything possible to push an even-greater version of "Rocket Man" than Shatner's own: Chris Elliott's dramatic reading on Letterman of the Shat's dramatic reading of "Rocket Man" at the utterly bogus "Science Fiction Film Awards." The Get A Life! auteur's take is online at YouTube here and will make you glad to be alive (go here for YouTube's compendium of GAL! clips).
Special hat tip to my brother John, with whom I watched the SFFA back in '78 and then the next day debated whether we had dreamed Shatner's performance, and Mark Evanier's News From Me site, which first brought the YouTube of Elliott's performance, itself every bit as much a post-apocalyptic triumph as anything witnessed by Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth!, to my attention.