Spirit on the air

A curious blend of spirit, science, and pop music…

WASHINGTON, Jan 31, 2008 /PRNewswire:

USNewswire via COMTEX/ — For the first time ever, NASA will beam a song — The Beatles’ “Across the Universe” — directly into deep space at 7 p.m. EST on Feb. 4.

The transmission over NASA’s Deep Space Network will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the day The Beatles recorded the song, as well as the 50th anniversary of NASA’s founding and the group’s beginnings.

Two other anniversaries also are being honored: The launch 50 years ago this week of Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite, and the founding 45 years ago of the Deep Space Network, an international network of antennas that supports missions to explore the universe.

The transmission is being aimed at the North Star, Polaris, which is located 431 light years away from Earth. The song will travel across the universe at a speed of 186,000 miles per second. Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney expressed excitement that the tune, which was principally written by fellow Beatle John Lennon, was being beamed into the cosmos.

“Amazing! Well done, NASA!” McCartney said in a message to the space agency. “Send my love to the aliens. All the best, Paul.”

Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, characterized the song’s transmission as a significant event. “I see that this is the beginning of the new age in which we will communicate with billions of planets across the universe,” she said.

It is not the first time Beatles music has been used by NASA; in November 2005, McCartney performed the song “Good Day Sunshine” during a concert that was transmitted to the International Space Station. “Here Comes the Sun,” “Ticket to Ride” and “A Hard Day’s Night” are among other Beatles’ songs that have been played to wake astronaut crews in orbit.

Feb. 4 has been declared “Across The Universe Day” by Beatles fans to commemorate the anniversaries. As part of the celebration, the public around the world has been invited to participate in the event by simultaneously playing the song at the same time it is transmitted by NASA. Many of the senior NASA scientists and engineers involved in the effort are among the group’s biggest fans.

“I’ve been a Beatles fan for 45 years — as long as the Deep Space Network has been around,” said Dr. Barry Geldzahler, the network’s program executive at NASA Headquarters, Washington. “What a joy, especially considering that ‘Across the Universe’ is my personal favorite Beatles song.”

Here are the lyrics:

Across The Universe  (Lennon/McCartney)

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup They slither
wildly as they slip away across the universe Pools of sorrow, waves of
joy are drifting through my open mind Possessing and caressing me
Jai Guru Deva OM

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes They
call me on and on across the universe Thoughts meander like a restless
wind inside a letter box They tumble blindly as they make their way
across the universe Jai Guru Deva OM

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter shades of live are ringing through my open ears
Inciting and inviting me Limitless undying love which shines around me
like a million suns It calls me on and on, across the universe Jai
Guru Deva OM

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva (fade out)

Some further irony is that the song was released well after it was recorded. It was written and first recorded when the Beatles were enamored of Maharishi, just before they went to India. They left there disenchanted and only much later released the enduring tune. Sexy Sadie was the flip side of this song, expressing John’s disappointment. George later apologized to Maharishi for the groups behaviour at the end of their stay. It became clear after that jealous friends had been manipulating them to leave. There was also miscommunication over filming the story.

Jai Guru Deva is a reference to Maharishi’s teacher, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, who was Shankaracharya of the North in the middle of the last century.  In the end, the message lives on, past all of the players…

if your memory cells need refreshing…

Rufus version, with a remarkable young girl: [Updated link]

Or the originals: [Updated link]

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11 Responses to Spirit on the air

  1. Pingback: Maharishi Passes « In 2 Deep

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  4. Davidya says:

    Just ran into this – an early recording from 68.
    The video displayed is squished but if you download the MP4 version from YouTube, the proportions are correct.

    How to get MP4s:

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  7. Davidya says:

    Curiously, it later came to be known that Maharishi passed just a few hours after this broadcast started.


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  10. Scott says:

    Great song ! Great lyrics!

    • Davidya says:

      Agreed, Scott.

      There was also a musical film done around this time with the same title and featuring Beatles songs over a love story told during the time of the Vietnam war.

      Kind of a later generations take on the 60’s. 🙂

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