After finishing her February 28 program installment, I started looking at other program subscriptions on the BBC Sounds app. There I saw links to 13 Minutes to the Moon, a podcast series from the BBC World Service. I recall enjoying season one of the podcast, which ran in 2019 to mark the 50th anniversary of America’s Apollo 11, the first human-crewed moon landing.
In 2020, the second season of the podcast focused on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 13 and the efforts on the ground and in space to save the lives of the three astronauts (commander Jim Lovell; Jack Swigert, 1931-1982; and Fred Haise) after their spaceship’s service module suffered a catastrophic explosion which, among other things, crippled their life-support system. The barely-functioning spaceship still had to proceed to and go around the Moon to get back to the Earth. It was a harrowing six-day ordeal where survival seemed highly unlikely, though brilliant, hardworking NASA engineers and staff on Earth worked feverishly to invent ways to use equipment and materials in the command and lunar modules to extend the lunar module’s life support system limits from two to six days. (It was human achievement at its highest… if only we applied this to every challenge and problem facing humanity.) Miraculously, the crew splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean on April 17, 1970.
I haven’t listened to the Apollo 13 podcast yet. But seeing the reminders about recalled for me the time when it happened and, more recently, listening to season one, with the fantastic voice of English presenter/co-writer, physician, astrophysicist and aerospace engineer Kevin Fong, and the theme music by Hans Zimmer and Christian Lundberg.
In a podcast excerpt, German film score composer and record producer Zimmer, who co-wrote the score with Swedish composer and audio engineer Christian Lundberg, describes the music’s inspiration, saying it really started from nothing, as, of course, there is no sound in space. He began with the beeps that a crew would hear in their ship, adding piano — 600-year-old technology — to contrast the modern technology of human space flight, and cello, to add the feeling of humanity.
The season one theme music is stirring, inspiring and exciting. Season two’s theme is similar but not as gripping to me, personally.
The composition masterfully blends classical orchestral and electronic sounds for an incredible aural experience that gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. So, maybe it is a stretch for Classical Sunday, but I figured it was a good direction to take today.
Though only nine years old at the time of the first moon landing, I was totally geeked out over it and followed the TV, newspaper and magazine coverage intently. Thinking of it today, when technology has landed several robotic crafts on Mars and a human landing seems within grasp, it’s like the past, present, and future are all one. The Moon and humandkind’s exploration of it were pivotal pieces of my imaginal mind as a youngster. I still am drawn to music, books, films and TV that portray the history, fiction, or alternate history of human space travel like the Apple TV series For All Mankind does so brilliantly (though I do feel they take the alternate history a bit far in terms of the effects on people living and dead whose life stories are extended, shortened and otherwise rewritten in the series). I’ve posted several songs that may allude to my preoccupation with the Moon. Search for them if you like; “Fly Me to the Moon” is just one example.
Thinking recently of exciting memories from the past, I also became mindful of many places where I could have done, and could do, better. Granted, my earlier self hadn’t grown as I have now, but I think it is good to face up to those times of weakness. Looking back also offers the opportunity to reconcile the past, make amends for past wrongs, and work to make the present and future better. And I’m thankful for that kind of opportunity whenever it arises.
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here on Earth, and please enjoy. And while we’re here, let’s take better care of this lovely and fragile planet we’re living on?
Here’s the audio for the track from the YouTube channel of Bleeding Fingers Music, a collaboration in which both Zimmer and Lundberg are involved. (And as with several other songs I’ve posted, there’s a false ending about two-thirds of the way through today’s selection, so don’t be fooled like I almost was, even though I know the theme music! The gap is for the presenter to announce the podcast title after the exciting episode preamble).