Music makes the journey, even all the way to the moon and back.
50 years ago, the astronauts on Apollo 11 walked on the moon for the first time. For motivation and inspiration, they had a playlist! In those days, cassette tapes were not yet widely used, but they were perfect for space travel. (And the Spotify playlist, which you can click below for the full list, was decades away.)
On what was possibly the world’s first mix tape, the crew cobbled together an appropriate list:
Fly Me to the Moon, Frank Sinatra -An obvious choice.
Galveston, Glen Campbell – Buzz Aldrin was a fan of patriotic dad music.
People, Barbra Streisand – I can’t imagine that three men in a tin can, listening to this song alone together, was not an emotional experience.
Mother Country, John Stewart – This was a brand new track, and a b-side at that, but Aldrin enjoyed it. Maybe he could have had a wonderful career as a DJ, if the whole “space icon” thing hadn’t worked out.
Three o’ Clock in the Morning, Lou Rawls – Just three men, enjoying a beautiful romantic tune while gazing at the Earth from space. Nothing to make a big deal about.
Angel of the Morning, Bettye Swann – This is NOT the version of ‘Angel of the Morning’ that just popped into your head. This is a less popular version that was apparently never even on the Billboard 100. The heart wants what it wants.
Spinning Wheel, Blood Sweat & Tears – This song contains the line “What goes up/Must come down,” which is dark for a space mission, but it is important to bring your sense of humor and irony when leaving Earth.
‘Mist o’ the Moon — Music Out of the Moon’ and ‘Moon Moods’, Dr. Samuel J. Hoffman, Harry Ravel and Lex Baxter – These both involve the Theramin which could rightly win “most cosmic sounding instrument”.
Everyday People, Peggy Lee – Again, this is NOT the actual radio hit version of the song you are thinking of by Sly and the Family Stone. The Apollo 11 crew were seemingly the original hipsters, favoring the obscure.
Everyone’s Gone to the Moon, Jonathan King – Everybody could! Some day!
Tunes for The New Space Era
Now, NASA has initiated a social media challenge: using the hashtag #NASAMoonTunes, anyone can vote for the best songs to accompany the crew on the US return trip to the moon in 2024.
We have a few suggestions in mind:
Space Oddity – David Bowie (1969)
I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do
Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins – The Byrds (1969)
Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were launched away in space
Millions of hearts were lifted, proud of the human race
Space control at Houston, radio command
The team below that gave the go they had God’s helping hand
Rocket Man – Elton John (1972)
Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it’s cold as hell
And there’s no one there to raise them if you did
And all this science I don’t understand
Starman – David Bowie (1972)
Look out your window I can see his light
If we can sparkle he may land tonight
Don’t tell your poppa or he’ll get us locked up in fright
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
Satellite of Love Lou Reed- (1972)
Satellite’s gone way up to Mars
Soon it’ll be filled with parkin’ cars
Eclipse – Pink Floyd (1973)
All that’s to come
and everything under
the sun is in tune
but the sun
is eclipsed by the moon
Intergalactic – Beastie Boys (1998)
Intergalactic, planetary, planetary, intergalactic
There are plenty of songs to help you get TO THE MOON…and back! What do you want bumping out of your spaceship speakers on your next trip?