Cosmic Rock

The titans of rock have been falling fast lately.

I was reflecting on this as I was driving at night yesterday, tunes cranked. In the past year, my generation has lost many voices from our youth…musical concepts and signposts from larger-than-life figures who carried us through our high school years, college, adulthood. Christine McVie. David Crosby. Jeff Beck. Meat Loaf, Olivia Newton-John, David Lindley. Gordon Lightfoot. And just yesterday, Tina Turner.

Increasingly, when I look up a musician, I’m dismayed to read “So-and-so WAS a guitarist…” vs “So-and-so IS a guitarist…”. And as they go, I can’t help but feel chilly winds swirling sometimes in the wee hours; the cloak of invincibility we all wear is beginning to get a little threadbare.

I wonder about their struggles and was it all worth it. Agonizing over lyrics, trying to condense their complex thoughts into a few stanzas. Creating the music, pulling notes out of the air, envisioning the various tracks. Arguing with other band members, managers, producers, trying to keep their vision unsullied. I think these people live lives vastly more complicated and difficult than most of us, Now they’re gone and what did it all really matter.

But our rock legends have achieved immortality of sorts; for over sixty years, their voices, their thoughts, their music, have been beamed into space at light speed from 100,000-watt radio stations. Off they go into the infinite universe.

Their music has now reached roughly 1,800 stars, many with planets. Some are habitable.

Is anyone listening?

Humans have been trying. Since 1963, NASA has been using radio telescopes to monitor the background hum of the cosmos, a low-pitched remnant of the Big Bang; grumbling thunder after the initial boom. They’ve been listening for anything that’s repetitious, something other than cosmic white noise. An alien version of rock music, perhaps.

NASA’s giant installation in Aricebo, Puerto Rico listens for signs of extraterrestrial life.

After 60 years…nothing. At least, so far. Maybe our nearest neighbors in space are still in cave painting mode, or perhaps radio waves are impossibly antiquated to them.

But regardless, the music of my generation–and others behind us–continue to streak away into the infinite. Their thoughts…our thoughts…our hopes, fears, dreams…will sail on, unabated, for as long as the universe lasts.

Perhaps one day, alien scientists listening on some distant planet will hear The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and stare at each other in disbelief.

Rock on, celestial troubadours. Rock on.

One comment

  1. Another good visionary tail from you, Darryl Bloch!

    “I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well.”


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