Music is a diverse form of expression that takes in many styles. It's a popular field that can only be briefly sampled in a short article.
Outer space has always inspired storytellers. One of the great side effects of the Space Race between the U.S.A and the Soviet Union was a great, creative output from science fiction writers. This literary bonanza even spilled over to television and cinema, when epic adventures like Star Trek and Star Wars captured the imaginations of many Americans.
Lesser known (from this fertile era of space exploration) are the large collection of songs and ballads that also talked about man's fascination and adventures into outer space. Presented here are ten songs, featuring a sci-fi story or tall tale embedded within the brief time span of a popular musical score. Please note that a special emphasis on the humorous permeates this small selection.
Songs With Sci-Fi Lyrics
- "In the Year 2525"—Zager and Evans
- "Many Moons"—Janelle Monae
- "Space Oddity"—David Bowie
- "Robots"—Flight of the Conchords
- "Mr. Spaceman"—The Byrds
- "The Ballad of Davy Crockett (In Outer Space)"—They Might Be Giants
- "The Saga Begins"—Weird Al Yankovich
- "A Spaceman Came a Traveling"—Chris de Burgh
- "Space Girl"—Empire and Love
1. "In the Year 2525"—Zager and Evans
This late '60s one-hit wonder by Zagr and Evans got a lot of airplay during that time. In this whimsical futuristic tale, mankind disappears from planet Earth. These lyrics explore a world that ends not with a big bang, but with a whimper.
In the year 2525, if man is still alive
If woman can survive, they may find
In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
Everything you think, do and say
Is in the pill you took today
— "In the Year 2525"—Zager and Evans
2. "Many Moons"—Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae has created quite an elaborate storyline with her Metropolis episodes, in which the R&B recording artists appears as Cindy Mayweather, an android who seeks freedom from the repressive culture that surrounds her.
I keep my feet on solid ground and use my wings when storms come around
I keep my feet on solid ground for freedom
You're free but in your mind, your freedom's in a bind
— "Many Moons"—Janelle Monae
3. "Space Oddity"—David Bowie
When he took his sci-fi adventures and space travel stories to the stage and recording studio, David Bowie really seemed to find himself. "Space Oddity" is the song that really got the ball rolling for Bowie's space exploration phase. Several years later, Bowie released The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which became very popular, both at the music store and on stage.
Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
Ground Control to Major Tom (ten, nine, eight, seven, six)
Commencing countdown, engines on (five, four, three)
Check ignition and may God's love be with you (two, one, liftoff)
— "Space Oddity"—David Bowie
Space travel can be a drag. This upbeat Queen song, written by lead guitarist Brian May, takes the new theories of relativity to heart, as it describes the return of some space warriors to their home after a one year journey through space at a velocity approaching the speed of light. Meanwhile, back on the home planet, time has progressed a hundred years, even though the space travelers were only gone for one Earth year.
And the night followed day
And the story tellers say
That the score brave souls inside
For many a lonely day sailed across the milky seas
Ne'er looked back, never feared, never cried
5. "Robots"—Flight of the Conchords
Even though the year 2000 has come and gone, you still might enjoy this futuristic story of a great robot uprising as performed by that hilarious Kiwi duo, better known as The Flight of the Conchords.
We no longer say yes, instead we say affirmative
Unless we know the other robot really well
There is no more unethical treatment of the elephants
Well, there's no more elephants, so ah, but still it?s good
— "Robots"—Flight of the Conchords
6. "Mr. Spaceman"—The Byrds
This Byrds spoof of an extraterrestrial visit by aliens goes all the way back to 1966, when the West Coast band released their third album "What's Happening?". This satirical tune still gets a lot of airplay today, and is especially popular with bluegrass bands.
Must be those strangers that come every night
Those saucer shaped lights put people uptight
Leave blue green footprints that glow in the dark
I hope they get home alright
— "Mr. Spaceman"—The Byrds
7. "The Ballad of Davy Crockett (In Outer Space)"—They Might Be Giants
Bet you didn't know Davey Crockett was a space cowboy. Not too long ago, They Might Be Giants came up with this nifty story about the outer space story about the adventures of a young spaceman named Davey Crockett. It seems that Davey Crockett was a high-living, fast-shooting space traveler, who helped maintain law and order around our solar system.
Off went his rocket at the speed of light
Flying so fast there was no day or night
Messing around with the fabric of time
He knows who's guilty 'fore there's even a crime
— "The Ballad of Davy Crockett (In Outer Space)"—They Might Be Giants
8. "The Saga Begins"—Weird Al Yankovich
"Weird Al" saves the listener a lot of time and money here. Instead of going out and purchasing the entire Star Wars trilogy on video and then watching every minute, you can listen to this five minute version for free.
Oh my my, this here Anakin guy
May be Vader someday later - now he's just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin' 'Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi'
'Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi'
— "The Saga Begins"—Weird Al Yankovich
9. "A Spaceman Came a Traveling"—Chris de Burgh
Chris de Burgh is a successful British-Irish singer-songwriter, who has been active since 1974. "A Spaceman Came a Traveling" is one of his lesser-know tunes and goes to show that even the Christmas story is vulnerable to a science fiction interpretation.
The third world war
will come in a way
that no one would have anticipated
and from an unexpected place.
— "A Spaceman Came a Traveling"—Chris de Burgh
10. "Space Girl"—Empire and Love
Even space girls can have outer space adventures. Peggy Seeger is an American folksinger, who has achieved more success in Great Britain than in her own native land. She has always been a proponent of woman's rights. She has a forthright attitude that is so aptly expressed in this 1960 release, which is performed here by the British folk band The Imagined Village.
My mama told me I should never venture into space
But I did, I did, I did
She said no terran girl could trust the martian race
But I did, I did, I did
— "Space Girl"—Empire and Love
© 2019 Harry Nielsen