Category Archives: Space Music

“Dark Was the Night” – New book about Blind Willie Johnson and his music on Voyager I

An announcement from Gary Golio:

Black Blues Legend Blind WiIlie Johnson Blasts into Outer Space
in New Picture Book about His Soul-Stirring Song

 Ask Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Lucinda Williams and Jack White to name the slide-guitar player they most admire, and they’ll all say Blind Willie Johnson. What those musicians may not know is that one of his songs found its way to the depths of outer space. In Dark Was the Night – Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars, NY Times-bestselling author Gary Golio and Caldecott Honoree E. B. Lewis weave a magical tale of how the healing power of music can turn darkness into light.

Born in 1897, young Willie shone as he sang and played a cigar box guitar made by his father. But his bright childhood fell dark when he lost both his mother and his sight. Fortunately, his love of music led him back into the light. He began singing in churches and later brought his unique blend of gospel-blues to street corners all over Texas. Willie’s powerful voice, joined to the wail of his slide guitar, moved even more people when he cut some records and his songs were played on the radio. Yet by the time he died, he and his music were largely forgotten.

Then, in 1977, Willie’s haunting song, “Dark Was the Night“, was launched into space on the Voyager I space probe’s famous Golden Record. There, along with the many sounds and sights of planet Earth, is the soul-stirring song of a blind man, telling us not to be afraid of the dark, and reminding us that we are never really alone.

“An ode to a too-little-discussed musician and an excellent introduction to his amazing musical talent.”
Kirkus, *starred review*

“An inspiring story of one man’s commitment to lifting up himself and those around him with his music.
An American treasure who shouldn’t go unsung.”
Booklist

“Lewis’s expressive watercolors depict the subject’s humble country beginnings as well as the joy that he felt when he sang and played”
“A beautiful, timely tribute to a little-known musician and space venture.”
School Library Journal, *starred review*

Gary Golio is the author of the NY Times bestseller JIMI: Sounds Like a Rainbow – A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix, winner of a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award; Bird & Diz and Strange Fruit – Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song, both ALA Notables; and other books about legendary artists. A writer and musician, Golio has been featured on NPR’s “Weekend Edition”, CBS-TV’s “Sunday Morning News,” and on radio stations nationwide. He lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife, children’s book author Susanna Reich.

E.B. Lewis is a fine artist and the acclaimed illustrator of over 70 books, among them Coming On Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson (Caldecott Honor Award), Talkin’ About Bessie by Nikki Grimes (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award), and The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass (Orbis Pictus Award). He is also the recipient of the NY Times Best Illustrated Book Award, Kirkus’ Best Illustrated Book Award, and four additional Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards. Lewis teaches at the University of Arts in Philadelphia, and lives in Folsom, New Jersey.

Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars[Amazon commission link]
Written by Gary Golio
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Published by Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books
August 2020 • Ages 5-8 • 32 pages • $17.99 hardcover/$10.99 Ebook • ISBN: 978-1524738884

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Here is a short video about Johnson and his music on the Voyager spacecraft: Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground, and brilliant is that song drifting through space | Aeon Videos

Johnson’s recording of Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground:

Here is a nicely played cover of Dark was the Night (hat tip Behind the Black):

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Dark Was the Night:
Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars

Space Songs – Live concert from Air & Space Museum

The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum is hosting an online space music event tonight at 8:00 pm EDT: Space Songs: Through the Distance

Join the National Air and Space Museum Thursday, April 30 at 8 pm EDT for a YouTube concert event, sharing songs about space and isolation to celebrate how extreme situations can bring out the very best in us all and why there’s no challenge we can’t face together. This recorded concert, hosted by Tested’s Adam Savage, will feature special guests and performances by Sting, Clipping, Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, Dan Deacon, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Valerie June, Lukas Nelson, Grace Potter, and Vagabon.

We know that people love space. And it’s not just because of Moon rocks and pretty pictures of the cosmos. Space exploration is an extraordinary expression of humanity and can inspire us like nothing else.

Naturally, there are a lot of great songs about spaceships and astronauts—about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances And many artists use solitude to fuel creativity and experimentation. We could all use a little bit of that inspiration right now. So while our museum remains closed to the public, we want to share some songs that inspire us with viewers at home.

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See You In Orbit?:
Our Dream Of Spaceflight

A (spacey) music break

A selection of music videos having nothing whatsoever to do with spaceflight but they do use spacey words in the titles and if nothing else I like the music:

** Planets – Joseph

** The Secret Kissing of the Sun and Moon – Hang Massive

** Bright Stars Burning – Hey Marseilles

** Clair de Lune – Debussy

** Dance On The Moon – Aurora

** Rising for the Moon – Sandy Denny

** Age Of The Fifth Sun – God Is An Astronaut

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Shoot for the Moon:
The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11

Videos: A space music sampling

A selection of space inspired music:

** Walk On The Moon AgainDavid Holt

** ConstellationsJim Cuddy

** View From SpaceMuriel Anderson

Muriel Anderson performs “View From Space” on harp guitar, during her “All Star Guitar Night” charity event [2009] at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN.

** Pulsar musicРоскосмос ТВ

Pulsar music based on the data obtained from the Spectr-R space telescope and the Radioastron project. Pulsar is a rapidly rotating ultra high-density neutron star left over from a supernova explosion. Pulsar signals could be used as time references and navigation for satellites. By converting the frequency of pulsar signals into sound waves, you can compose music. Spectr-R is a space observatory launched in 2011. It was in orbit for 8 years, surpassing its warranty period by more than 2.5 times. The Radioastron project made a great contribution to the research of pulsars.

** WORLD CLUB DOME Space Edition 2019Taking electronic dance music out of this world – ESA

On Friday 7 June, ESA began a three-day starring role at the World Club Dome electronic dance music festival. Billed as the Space Edition, this event is the latest stage of an 18-month partnership with BigCityBeats, the company behind the show. This year’s festival featured Armin van Buuren, Jason Derulo, Steve Aoki and David Guetta among its star performers – as well as a 28-m high model of an Ariane 5, which dominated the main stage.

World Club Dome Space Edition was inaugurated with a spectacular light and music show for the crowd of 55 000 music fans. The programme recounted the history of human space exploration and highlighted ESA’s many achievements. ESA astronauts André Kuipers and Matthias Maurer took to the stage to recount their experiences and their hopes for the future.

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Eclipse
Muriel Anderson

Videos: More space music

A miscellaneous sampling of space music:

** Ariana Grande wants space though it’s primarily about room in a relationship:

More about her song:

**A nicely assembled montage of space clips for Space Song by Beach House:

“Space Song” with footage from NASA and Space X. (Made me so proud to be human I almost cried.) from r/space

** A paean to the Falcon Heavy from Time Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, on the occasion of the recent one year anniversary of the launch system’s first flight: “27 Merlins” Music composed to Falcon Heavy’s sequence of events:

** An In-Orbit & Ground Duo from a few years ago:

** A medley of filk space music:

** Spotify’s space music at Spotify: Hottest 100 Space Songs – Spotify

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The Cosma Hypothesis: Implications of the Overview Effect