Songs about SatCom

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New for May 2022: check out Wilsey Franck's new YouTube channel!

The Rocket Man by the Spotniks (1962)

The Spotniks were an exceptionally talented instrumental group from Sweden, masters of the Surf Guitar genre, similar to the Ventures in the United States.  Formed in 1961 and named after the early Russian satellite, at last count The Spotnicks had sold 18 million songs. In the clip below they play while wearing space suits.  The drummer's helmet is definitely underdamped and moding, pumped by his playing.  It must have been driving him crazy!

The Cosmic Dance, by Wilsey Franck

The first satellite was launched back on 4 October, 1957. Did you know that there was song about "Little Sputnik", copyrighted in 1958?  Of course you didn't, but now you will, because  Lena "Wilsey" Franck shared 25% of her ancestral DNA with our own Unknown Editor. Her brother Harry was well-known travel author, Harry A. Franck. so there is a creativity gene floating around here. Lena was what might have been called a "spinster" when she decided to write, publish and even record songs. This effort was supported by a vanity music publishing house, 440 Music Company, in Milwaukee, WI. Lena (Wilsey was her stage name, taken from her mother) was born in 1883, when she penned "Cosmic Dance" she was 70 or 71 years old. The exact number of songs she published may remain unknown, perhaps a dozen. Many of the songs include her take on social issues of the times.

Wilsey lived until 1977.  Her final, solid-gold hit song (that we know of) was "The Hornet's Nest and the Mean Boy". Having no spouse or offspring, part of her estate helped pay for the Unknown Editor's college tuition upon her death in 1977.

Update May 2022:   We now have created a Lena Franck YouTube channel and posted a recording of the piano part for Cosmic Dance! Check it out and be sure to like and subscribe so that Wilsey becomes an internet sensation!

Kym sight-reads Cosmic Dance


Here are the lyrics to The Cosmic Dance:

Oh Sputnik, Little Sputnik, how cute beyond the blue?

As 'round and 'round the Earth you spin, the Earth spins 'round with you.

You pirouette around the Sun, the Sun swings round a star,

Oh, the ballroom of the universe is infinitely far.

But listen little Sputnik, should you begin to tire

And lose the speed that man decreed,

You'll be consumed by fire.

And every moon and planet and every blazing Sun

When they slow down, the same is true, they'll perish ev'ry one.

Oh, the Earth sails on, through endless space, to join the cosmic whirl

And the greedy striving human race rides wrangling through the swirl

Until at last Earth's course is run, her giddy antics cease,

Ah, then will human plaints be stilled, and oh, there will be peace!

Much of her sheet music uses chords and transitions that you could hear in Tin Pan Alley classics, mixed in with some familiar I-IV-I church "amens".  While Chuck Berry was cranking out "Sweet Little Sixteen" in three chords, here is a stab at the chords in just the first four measures of Cosmic Dance... the sheet music is written in G major.

Am  G  A6  D7  G  Bm  G6  Am  D  C  D  B7 D7...

Telstar, by the Tornados

Telstar I was launched in 1962 and provided the first live transatlantic television feed.  Telstar was a product of AT&T, built for a US/Euro consortium. There were ground stations in the US, England, France and Italy. It was the first commercial satellite, and but failed after four months due to radiation effects on its electronics.  Telstar I and II still orbit the Earth as two pieces of space junk.  Telstar is a portmanteau of "television star".

The Tornados, a session band at Joe Meek's studio, used the occasion of Telstar Iaunch to record a monster #1 hit which is purely instrumental. Joe Meek is considered one  of the most influential sound engineers of all time.  He ended his life in 1967 with a shotgun; he was bipolar as well as schizophrenic. The bottle-blonde Billy-Idol-look-alike bass player is Heinz Burt, born in Germany during the war. He could easily play an alien in any sixties sc-fi movie!  Speaking of movies, there is a 2008 movie "Telstar, the Joe Meek story".  If you subscribe to DVD service on Netflix, that's one way to watch it.  Here's the trailer on Youtube, it's awesome.

The Tornados, Telstar

That Telstar video is a Scopitone, the 1960's version of MTV. Here's an hour of Scopitones. don't watch them unless you want to be reminded about how people used to look before the twenty-first century eat-a-thon.  And maybe hold off on clicking that link on your work computer.  Back in the day, you could watch Scopitones on coin-operated machines in bars (hence, they contain "adult content").  You'd need to be 75 years old to remember this.

In the Telstar video, dig that solid-state Vox Continental organ, made by Jennings in the UK.  It was first introduced in 1962 and used in too many hits to list.  A personal favorite: I'm a Believer, by The Monkees.   We're gonna go out on a limb here (backed up by the wikipedia page), and suggest that the Vox Continental appearing in the Scopitone (in which the band is faking their music) is not what the song was recorded with.  It seems like Telstar used a Jennings Univox tube-type synthesizer, you can check that out here. The Univox syth had been around for years, while the Vox Continental was a very new product; so new that the first version used germanium transistors (before silicon took over everything).

Satellite of Love, Lou Reed

This recording is from the Capital Theater in Newark New Jersey, where a ton of concerts were recorded for posterity.

Lou Reed, Satelliite of Love

Wishing on Telstar, Susanna Hoffs

Previously of The Bangles, Hoffs released this as a soloist in 1991.


Wishing on Telstar, by Susanna Banks



Author : Unknown Editor