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Sci-Fi Rock and Roll/ Open Lines

Date Friday - August 24, 2018
Host Ian Punnett
Guests Jason Heller

In 1968, after David Bowie attended a showing of Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking film "2001: A Space Odyssey," he emerged a changed man. Author and pop culture researcher, Jason Heller joined Ian Punnett to discuss how as the 1970s progressed and mankind trained its telescopes on distant worlds, Bowie would lead other rock stars to see the world of science fiction as the catalyst needed to continue the revolution begun in the sixties. Heller said that before Bowie's song "Space Oddity," science fiction-themed popular music was almost unknown and that Bowie’s story of Major Tom illustrated what could happen "if we go out into space and things go wrong." Heller also described a strange scenario during the 1969 BBC live broadcast of the Apollo 11 landing which was accompanied by improvised music from rock band Pink Floyd. Ian played section of this audio (entitled ‘Moonhead’) at the end of the first hour.

Heller said that Jimi Hendrix, perhaps the most famous guitarist in the history of rock and roll, was "a shy, introverted, bookish guy" and basically a science fiction nerd. The inspiration for his biggest hit, "Purple Haze," Heller said, came from a little-known novel by Phillip Jose Farmer which described a planet covered in a "purplish haze." Heller also recounted the story of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and his project to help write a concept album for Paul McCartney and Wings, which never saw the light of day. "There were people who were at the pinnacle of coolness and rock stardom who were total fan boys for people like Roddenberry," said Heller.

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During Open Lines, Sarah from called Texas to mention Elton John’s song "I’ve Seen the Saucers" from the Caribou album. Patrick in Florida said that the science fiction author Kurt Vonnegut once told him that "David Bowie sold 20 of his songs for 50 million dollars" and lamented how many artists often need to "sell their souls" to survive. Justin in Arkansas talked with Ian for awhile about the practice of playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of the Moon record over the 1939 film The Wizard Of Oz and how, amazingly, "every song transition works" as a soundtrack to the film. Dennis in Washington state brought up the tragic history of the band Badfinger and mentioned his belief that they "would have been the next Beatles" as their mentors were actually the Beatles themselves.

Rick in California pointed out that the band ELO used to have a huge neon UFO lifting off the stage during their concerts, and that the group Boston’s logo was formed into a flying saucer shape. Cora in New Mexico mentioned Vonnegut’s fictional character, the unsuccessful writer Kilgore Trout as an example of the idea that "science fiction writers don’t get any respect." Lynn in California asked if Ian knew of her contention that Citibank will not let its customers withdraw more than $3000 in cash from an ATM in a year, and that "you’re not allowed walk into the bank and hand the employees any cash." Joey in Washington state asked about "abandoned staircases in the woods that you’re supposed to steer clear of," which may be a new phenomenon in the world of the weird.

Bumper Music

Bumper music from Friday August 24, 2018

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