On the way to the Moon on July 21, 1969, NASA's three astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins did not travel in the silence of space. They had with them a soundtrack provided by the space agency.
More than three days of travel from Earth to the Moon, and as much for the return trip... they must be occupied. In the Apollo 11 mission, the three American astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins were able to do so to music. The short story of this legendary flight reminds us that NASA provided them with a musical tape to accompany their space flight.
The tradition dates back to 1963: based on an idea by producer Mickey Kapp, a relative of several astronauts (who died on June 11), NASA accepts the idea that each flight be accompanied by a "mixtape", an audio cassette containing the favourite songs of each mission participant. It was a good thing: the astronauts could use a recorder that was provided to them, a kind of big walkman, to listen to them.
After Apollo 11, Mickey Kapp continued to work with NASA to continue to offer titles to astronauts on American space missions. The tradition has continued to this day: last June, the space agency launched an online call for Internet users to submit their titles for a future mission to the Moon... 2024.
1. Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, “Fly Me to the Moon” (1964): Aldrin played this song on a NASA-issued cassette machine when he stepped on the moon.
2. Julian with Tasso and his Big Orchestra, “Get on the Moon Baby” (1962): This rockabilly novelty tune was recorded the same year President John F. Kennedy delivered his “We choose to go to the moon in this decade” speech at Rice University in Houston.
3. Spiritualized, “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” (1997): English band Spiritualized borrowed lyrics from Elvis Presley hit “Can't Help Falling in Love” for this ethereal tune.
4. Elton John, “Rocket Man” (1972): This song likely will be heard when John performs Oct. 25 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
5. David Bowie, “Space Oddity” (1969): One of rock music’s iconic careers took flight with this single.
6. Peter Schilling, "Major Tom (Coming Home)" (1983): German musician Schilling dreamed up a new scenario for Bowie’s Major Tom.
7. “Moonlight Sonata” (written by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1801): Music critic Ludwig Rellstab is credited for affixing the moon reference to this composition five years after Beethoven’s death.
8. Les Paul and Mary Ford, “How High the Moon” (1951): Vocalist Ford and guitar innovator Paul spent nine weeks at No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s singles chart.
9. Louis Armstrong and Oscar Peterson, “Moon Song” (1957): Armstrong and jazz piano player Peterson recorded this song written by Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow in 1932.
10. Chuck Berry, “Havana Moon” (1956): This song appeared as the B-side to Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me.”
11. The Marcels, “Blue Moon” (1961): Pittsburgh vocal group gave a doo-wop makeover to a 1934 composition by Broadway team Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.
12. Buddy Holly, “Moondreams” (1958): Holly first recorded this song one year earlier while sitting in with the Norman Petty Trio.
13. The Beatles, “Mr. Moonlight” (1964): John Lennon sang lead on this cover of a song originally popularized by Georgia bluesman Piano Red.
14. Cat Stevens, “Moonshadow” (1971): This tune reached No. 30 on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 singles chart.
15. Van Morrison, “Moondance” (1970): Morrison didn’t release “Moondance” as a single in the United States until 1977 — seven years after it appeared as the title track for one of his most popular studio albums.
16. King Harvest, “Dancing in the Moonlight” (1972): This feel-good song reached No. 13 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
17. Janis Joplin, “Half Moon” (1971): Joplin recorded this song co-written by John Hall, who later founded the band Orleans (known for 1976 smash “Still the One”).
18. The Doors, “Moonlight Drive” (1967): This song closed out Side One of the Doors’ “Strange Days” album.
19. The Rolling Stones, “Moonlight Mile” (1971): This road ballad closed out Side Two of the Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” album.
20. Paul Simon, “Song About the Moon” (1983): This songwriting tutorial appeared on Simon’s “Hearts and Bones” album.
21. The Waterboys, “The Whole of the Moon” (1985): This song grew in popularity across time, eventually reaching No. 3 on the U.K. Singles Chart in 1991.
22. Echo & the Bunnymen, “The Killing Moon” (1984): Echo & the Bunnymen singer-songwriter Ian McCulloch said music for this song began as an exercise in reversing the chord progression of Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”
23. The Police, “Walking on the Moon” (1979): The Police visited Kennedy Space Center to make a video to accompany this song.
24. Sting, “Moon Over Bourbon Street” (1985): Police vocalist Sting returned to a lunar theme for this song that appeared on his first solo album, “The Dream of the Blue Turtles.”
25. John Mellencamp, “Circling Around the Moon” (1996): Indiana rock star Mellencamp recorded this song for his “Mr. Happy Go Lucky” album.
26. Neil Young, “Harvest Moon” (1993): Linda Ronstadt supplied backing vocals on this song.
27. Nick Drake, “Pink Moon” (1972): This ballad received increased exposure when Volkwagen used it in a 1999 ad campaign.
28. Beck, “Blue Moon” (2014): The initial single to promote Beck’s “Morning Phase,” which won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
29. R.E.M., “Man on the Moon” (1992): A 1999 Andy Kaufman biopic adopted its title from this song.
30. Television, “Marquee Moon” (1977): Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine played memorable guitar solos on this 10-minute song.
31. Porno for Pyros, “Tahitian Moon” (1996): Perry Farrell founded Porno for Pyros after Jane’s Addiction dissolved in 1991.
32. Sade, “The Moon and the Sky” (2010): This song served as the opening track on Sade’s “Soldier of Love” album.
33. Bruno Mars, “Talking to the Moon” (2010): This song reached No. 1 in Brazil.
34. Audrey Hepburn, “Moon River” (1961): This Academy Award-winning song appeared in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
35. Patsy Cline, “Blue Moon of Kentucky” (1963): Country music icon Cline performed this Bill Monroe song on a Nashville, Tennessee, TV show.
36. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Bad Moon Rising” (1969): This John Fogerty composition reached No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart five weeks before the Apollo 11 mission.
37. Drive-By Truckers, “Puttin’ People on the Moon” (2004): Set in the 1980s, this song is narrated by an automobile factory worker who’s envious of work being done at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. Alabama.
38-39. Pink Floyd, “Brain Damage”/”Eclipse” (1973): These tracks deliver the final statement on “The Dark Side of the Moon,” an album that’s sold more than 45 million copies worldwide.