2018, December 26
Length: 525 Words.
Time to read 3 Minutes
"ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE"
Dear Reader, you and I are meeting in cyber space.
But I want to take you to real space in this story. Have you ever heard of Voyager I? It was a rocket/capsule launched in the late 19 seventies and as of December 30th 2018 had travelled 13.488 billion miles.
In 2012 it became the first man made object to leave the solar system. [Here http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/where/ is a real time mileage indicator showing how far away it is].
Anyway, NASA packed the voyager full of "interesting stuff" just in case one day it is picked up by extra-terrestrials, aliens, little green men made of cheese. You get the idea.
Amongst the stuff are photographs of life on earth, messages saying "hello" in 55 languages and a collection of music. Now the music has a broad selection, to fit a wide range of tastes and includes Mozart, Gregorian chants, Chuck Berry, and includes one song by a guy called Blind Willie Johnson.
As a performer he dates from the 1920's and used to sing the blues. Willie had an interesting story in that one day his step mother had a run in with his father. The father had caught her with another man and beat her mercilessly. This was early 1900’s (another time, another place) and it was probably quite extreme.
After the beating she took it out on the boy who was seven years old. She threw lye (used as hair straightener, it was like strong ammonia or acid) in his eyes and it left him blind. Goodbye Willie, hello “Blind Willie”.
The Blues – gut-wrenching music or just noise?
Blind Willie spent the rest of his life singing the blues, not much surprise there! Having survived being blinded, Willie eventually died a tragic death, catching pneumonia from sleeping in the ruins of his house which had burned to the ground.
Anyway, Blind Willie Johnson, made a record "Dark was the night, Cold was the ground" which was part of the "Interesting Stuff" on Voyager I. (Incidentally, the song was selected for inclusion by Carl Sagan, and the actor / comedian Steve Martin joked not long after the Voyager probe had been launched that Earth had received a message back from another world: “Send more Blind Willie Johnson.”)
Listen to it. [This is a 1927 recording https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qePHCNoEtqQ ]. It is melancholy, and it was his interpretation of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is played with a slide guitar and depending upon your emotions you may find it either gut wrenching or just some background filler that does absolutely nothing.
What they should have included in the “interesting Stuff”:
To my mind, what they should have done for Voyager was to attach to the record a plaque with the story. The story is inspirational, not necessarily the music. And some cheese eating alien may agree with me and not see the music as some iconic piece of noise.
Hey, just my view.
Hopefully, this blog will bring articles of interest presented as a readable narrative instead of dry academic text.