Monday, March 29, 2010

Chuck Berry's Ghost Must Be Stoked

Ditto for those of Louis Armstrong and Blind Willie Johnson (no relation to Jack White's hero, Blind Willie McTell, who evidently did not try hard enough in life).

Why are these three specters so totally pumped, prancing around the shadowy netherworld like king shits in the outhouse?

Because they each have a song on a 12-track gold-plated copper record aboard both Voyager 1 & 2, which were launched in 1977, passed Pluto in 1990, and won't encounter another planetary system for approximately 40,000 years.

One side of the record in question

The other songs were either classical--interestingly, Bach got 3 tracks, Beethoven 2, and Mozart only 1--or tribal, which isn't surprising.

For the full track listing, please visit the fantastic Lapham's Quarterly.

This oddball mixtape could merely be a reflection of the musical tastes of Carl Sagan, who chaired the selection committee, or it could be the result of a powerful equation devised by the Brains Trust to scientifically weed out the most representative music ever recorded on planet Earth, which would be great to get my hands on, in case I am ever called upon to update the mixtape by factoring in the music of the last 33 years, or in case I just want to play around with it when I'm bored.

Either way, questions inevitably spring to mind:
1. Why no Rolling Stones, Beatles, Fats Domino, or Elton John?

2. Was Roy Orbison, aka The Big O, [a fascinating wikipedia entry, btw -Ed.] pissed at being snubbed? Something tells me he was, and that, as was his wont, he blamed the success of Pretty Woman for it.

3. Why send only one record? Was cargo room really that tight?

4. Couldn't it have been a double-LP gatefold, with some beautiful Richard Avedon photographs on the cover?

5. Shouldn't they have consulted me on this before I was born?
If anybody knows where Carl Sagan's ghost hangs out, I'd love to accost him and get some answers. So, you know, let me know...

[Note: Chuck Berry is supposedly still alive, aged 83, but I see no reason to alter an otherwise adequate blog entry... -Ed.]


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