Day 95: A song that makes you think about stars and the universe.

“Venus And Mars” – Wings

Venus And MarsThis is a bit of a stretch, because I don’t find myself pondering the stars and universe too often. Maybe if I’m watching “Cosmos” or “Star Trek” I think about it, but that usually doesn’t involve music (the “Star Trek” theme song not withstanding).

That said, “Venus And Mars” seems to fit the bill. There’s a reprise, too, so this is sort of a two-fer.

To be honest, apart from the mention of the two planets, a brief mention of a starship (number 21ZNA9 for those who care), and the narrator’s good friend who “studies the stars,” the song doesn’t have much to do with the universe. But, it was the cause of my first exposure to the solar system.


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Back  in the day, copies of Venus And Mars shipped with a sticker that showed the planets of the solar system. (It’s shown to the left.) My brother played the trumpet. (That is not the total non-sequitur that it might seem.) As you might expect, he had a case to put said trumpet in. He decided to place the sticker he received with Venus And Mars on his trumpet case (where it may still be today). When I was young, I used to look at that sticker from time to time, which gave the comparative sizes of the planets in the solar system, as well as some other information. I liked that sticker. There was something about it that spoke to me. (I guess I’m easily amused.)

I’m going to go on a tangential rant for a second: I’m a pretty technical guy. I’m not a Luddite, and I’m no technophobe. But something as simple as this sticker puts me off digital media. LPs used to have great artwork. And liner notes. And, if you were lucky, sometimes other goodies (like in this case). Stickers, posters, maybe even a 7″ record in addition to the album might be awaiting you inside that 12 inch square package. (It was like a hidden treasure! Anything could be in there!)

All that’s gone; the victim of the move away from physical media.

It was bad enough when they moved to CDs and that big beautiful artwork got smooshed down to the size of a postage stamp (because we all know postage stamps are 5 inches by 5 inches). It may not seem like a big deal, but you just don’t get the same experience looking at artwork in a 5×5 package as you do with an LP.

Now, with digital media, you get pretty much nothing. Maybe a PDF file along with the download (which you get to pay extra for!), but it’s hard to sit on the bed or in a chair and hold a PDF as you listen to an album, which in this case is on your iPod. Part of the joy that I had when I first got into music was poring over the liner notes of albums. It was a travesty in my mind when you didn’t get lyrics. Now you don’t even get liner notes. It’s all gone. (And I used to have to walk to school in two feet of snow, uphill, both ways, too.)

End of rant.

So anyway, if it wasn’t for “Venus And Mars” the album wouldn’t have been Venus And Mars and there probably wouldn’t have been a sticker with the planets on it for my brother to put on his trumpet case so I wouldn’t have been able to stare at it and think about the solar system, which is all part of the discussion about the stars and the universe. See? It all makes sense.

In so much as anything I say makes sense.