Love it where the worlds of science fiction and rock 'n' roll collide, if only for the things I get to then think about, even if I mix things up, even if I can't keep them straight, even if it does become this confusing synesthesia . . . .
One of the subtexts in the back of my brain to the concept of supralight, interstellar travel, like they so often talk about in sci-fi, but so very rarely sing about in rock 'n' roll, is that it would to the travelers who use it be in some sense psychedelic.
Or perhaps psychedelic is the wrong word; what I mean is that faster than light travelers would have the impossible made manifest to them. The other side of the light speed limit is a place without causality, a time without logic.
"The Best Song On A Starship" reminds me of a sci-fi story I once read by James Blish called "Common Time." Our hero Garrard, on an antiseptic starship bound for Alpha Centauri, wakes up shortly into his journey to find that his subjective time has been stretched 7200 times; two hours pass for him in the time it takes his wallclock to show the passage of a second.
Then, by the time he's rigorously explicated this state of affairs, the clock has sped up 'til it's the other way around: two hours is like a second to him. His senses fade, until there is nothing but a dim red, and then comes the pseudo death . . . .
From which he is awoken by the rodalent beademungen, "a living being, organized horizontally" who think and speak radically differently--though in English, or at least so it seems to our addled hero. They hold vast conversations, Garrard and the clinesteron beademung, which our hero understands perfectly. "I pitch you-them to fullest love,' he tells the beademungen. "I shall adore the radioceles of Alpha and Proxima Centauri, 'on Earth as it is in Heaven.' Now the overdrive my-other must woo and win me, and make me adore a featureling much like silence."
Garrard was created in 1953, well in advance of not just cosmopolitan math rock bands, but also ahead of all the glorious and insipid proclamations of love that would compose 1960's psychedelia. Regardless of this chronological accident, no lysergic astronaut of that later time could have postulated a credo of love and wonderfully distorted thought processes any better.
And then Garrard heads home and the story ends attending to its own priorities, but the starship that Blish showed me as this place of deep time- and logicfuck has always stayed with me.
"Best Song on A Starship" inhabits the same distorted place, with Sicilian vocalist Giovanna Cacciola's disconnected ramblings, words coming to her atop the angular rhythms randomly, without logic, residing like the bedemungen in a space independent of the need for it.
The song's a progression of the intersection between the impossible states in space-time and the mundane. 20 degress she's getting dressed; 40 degrees she's on a starship, cool and clean and disinfected, smelling like rubbing alcohol, but time's all wrong.. 50 degrees she's shot into a place past logic, where the impossible is self-evident, and she sees their enormous heads and she disappears, surfing into the clear white galactic light.
Bellini - Snowing Sun - 11 - The Best Song On A Starship.mp3
This file was removed January 20, 2009. If you're still way interested in coming up with a copy of this--and really can't figure out where you might get one--drop me an email and I'm sure I'll be able to figure something out for you.
File under (what else?): Songs on a Starship