Saturday, February 2, 2008

"Across the Universe," across the universe

NASA is to beam the Beatles song "Across the Universe" into space. But which "Universe"? NASA hasn't said. There are four official releases:

1. From a 1969 World Wildlife Fund charity record, with bird sounds at beginning and end, and two Apple scruffs (female fans) on the refrain. Now available on The Beatles' Past Masters, Volume Two. This version speeds up the tape, sounding in D# rather than D.

2. The Phil-Spectored version from Let It Be (1970). I grew up loving the song in this form (side 1, track 3), angelic chorus and all. This version slows down the tape, sounding in Db rather than D.

3. The Anthology 2 version (1996), a 1968 alternative take, with spare instrumentation. Here we hear the song at speed, in the key of D.

4. A de-Spectored remix of the 1968 master, released on Let It Be... Naked (2003). Also at speed.

My choice would be the Anthology version, which sounds warmest and, well, trippiest to me. No. 4 seems aggressive by comparison. Please, NASA, don't send up Spector.

Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono have both made statements about this project. Says cheeky Paul: "Amazing! Well done, NASA! Send my love to the aliens. All the best, Paul." And Yoko: "I see that this is the beginning of the new age in which we will communicate with billions of planets across the universe."

Related reading
Voyager music (NASA)

comments: 6

JuliaR said...

I guess Yoko doesn't remember the 70s and Pioneer and Voyager.

Michael Leddy said...

I didn't want to correct Yoko, did you see the Voyager link I put in?

JuliaR said...

Ooh, sorry, missed it! I am still thrilled by the idea that Voyager is out there. Although the execution wasn't great, I liked the idea behind the first Star Trek movie.

Last year we visited the Kennedy Space Center and it was so thrilling, we went back for a second day. Now we track the ISS and run outside to see if we can see it when it goes over the house in the summer. It is amazingly bright and fast.

Tom the Piper's Son said...

As far as the the versions of "Across..." i agree with you on the Anthology version.
A great cover version of the song, that, believe it or not, I think Beatle fans would appreciate is that of Fiona Apple. You can hear at the end of the movie "Rushmore".

Michael Leddy said...

I like the Fiona Apple version a lot -- I know it from the end of Pleasantville. Is it also in Rushmore, Tom? Or are you also thinking of P'ville?

Tom the Piper's Son said...

Maybe i am! You must be right. Two very different movies
and that would be shabby indeed to cop the same ending tune!
I recall a lawn scene in front of a house, with a sprinkler perhaps.