Caught by the River

Float On, Neil Armstrong

25th August 2012

The following passage was written by Andrew Smith about Neil Armstrong and his fellow Apollo astronauts. It’s taken from the phenomenal book Moondust.

“Of more interest to me, though, was the First Man’s response to a supplementary question about ‘the strange electronic-sounding music’ that (Michael) Collins reported him taking to Luna, to which he offered a piece of trivial information that gives me as much pleasure as anything I discovered in the countey of my research. He told me that he took Dvořák’s New World Symphnony but that the electronic sound I referred to was the theremin music of Dr.Samuel Hoffman, specifically an album called Music Out Of The Moon, which he’d commited to tape from his own collection.

“The theremin was an early form of synthesizer, played by moving one’s hands through two invisible radiostatic fields to produce a kind of unearthyly quaver, eerie, like the pleadings of an alien choiur. Now mostly associated with Fifties sci-fi movies such as The Day The Earth Stood Still and the Beach Boy’s ‘Good Vibrations’, along with a few moody modern groups like Portishead, Armstrong’s decision to make it part of his own soundtrack struck me as at once deeply, deeply eccentric and absolutely perfect, and ever since, when I’ve thought of Apollo, I’ve thought not of the first step of the raging Saturn, but of him and his little band drifting out there toward the secret Moon, spinning slowly to distribute the heat and spilling spooky theremin music out at the stars, who think it’s just as weird as I do – and it occurs to me that in the final analysis this might be as good a way as any to remember Apollo, as a kind of collective dream, a tale from a comic book come to life.”

As the book revolves so much around music and the creativity that the Apollo missions inspired, I wanted to add this track by the Flaming Lips as an extra tribute to the first man to walk on the moon – it was the first thing that entered my head when I read that Neil Armstrong had left this world and entered deep space.

Rest in peace.