The idea of outer space and the universe at large is fascinating, but also at time a bit hard to wrap our minds around. Thankfully, over the years, we’ve been blessed with some amazing songs about space to help expand our minds in an artistic fashion. So in this article, I’m going to provide you with my favorite songs dealing with the topic of space, ones that hit on topics like the moon, stars, and even flying saucers.
Songs About Space You’ll Love
Let’s kick this off with a song by Lemon Jelly.
Space Walk by Lemon Jelly
Imagine being present at one of humanity’s first spacewalks. If you’d like to experience this wonder from the comfort of your own home, look no further than this track by British electronic duo Lemon Jelly. “Space Walk” contains no original lyrics, but it does include an actual recording of the first American stroll through outer space: Ed White’s 1965 spacewalk!
White sounds euphoric in this recording, and as he emerges from his capsule and exclaims, “Just beautiful!” his excitement is palpable. Lemon Jelly underscores this recording with light piano and guitar melodies, conjuring an image of distant, twinkling lights in the void of outer space. “Space Walk” is a piece of music that does an excellent job of capturing a major moment in history. Try listening to this one with all the lights off and pretend you are really there!
Space Oddity by David Bowie
Unfortunately, space travel doesn’t always go off without a hitch (speaking of Ed White, he died tragically in a pre-launch fire only two years after his legendary spacewalk), and David Bowie explores the potential risks of flying too close the sun in one of his most famous tracks, “Space Oddity.”
With a catalogue of songs like “Life on Mars,” and “Starman,” Bowie frequently courts the outer space theme in his work, but “Space Oddity” is a bit more solemn than some of the others. This song is a complete story told through a dialogue between astronaut Major Tom, and Ground Control, speaking to him from the other end of his radio.
Major Tom is fortunate enough to experience something few of us ever will. He has the privilege of floating through space and looking down at the Earth, and Ground Control tells him of his admirers back on Earth. Still, adventures like these are not without their perils, and Bowie reminds us of this fact towards the end of the song, as Ground Control desperately shouts, “Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong / Can you hear me, Major Tom?”
David Bowie leaves it up to us to decide whether or not Major Tom makes it back safely, but either way, he has learned something about his own fallibility. Like the Greek myth of Icarus, “Space Oddity” can be interpreted as a warning against hubris. In fact, while Bowie claimed the song was inspired by the 1969 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, some have speculated that it may have actually been a metaphor for a drug overdose.
Have You Seen the Saucers? By Jefferson Airplane
Now we move on to the theme of life on other planets! In “Have You Seen the Saucers?” psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane plays with the idea that somewhere out in space, there may be intelligent beings watching over us, and they may not like what they see.
Rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner was a big fan of science fiction literature, and he applies those sensibilities to this protest song. “Have You Seen the Saucers?” is a tale told from the point of view of visitors from another planet, who lament our mistreatment of the Earth and implore us to transcend our destructive habits and act with more care.
“Have You Seen the Saucers?” was written in 1970, a time when young and radical-minded Americans were awakening to the growing existential threats our industrial culture posed to its own planet. “Have You Seen the Saucers?” spoke to the anxieties of a generation that came of age many years ago, but unfortunately, its message is just as applicable in today’s climate.
This song is an exercise in perspective. It asks us to consider how the people of Earth and some of the foolish things they do to one another would look to wiser and more advanced outsiders.
Space Girl by Shirley Collins
Originally written by husband-and-wife folk duo Peggy Seeger and Ewan McColl, “Space Girl” is a sci-fi take on age-old folk traditions. “Space Girl” takes the form a ballad about a young girl who travels far from home in search of lover.
In her case, and against the better judgement of her mother, this involves hopping on a rocket and heading for the stars, where she navigates heartbreaks in the form of robots, Martians, alien monsters, and other futuristic characters. This tune contains a lot of twentieth century sci-fi imagery framed in a very traditional musical format, with an arrangement, structure, and chord progression typical of the British and American folk catalogues.
Like many folk ballads, it ends with a succinct denouement that ties everything together: “They say a gal must travel for to find her superman / And I did, I did, I did.” While many folk songs look to the distant past, this one gazes into the far future and finds that some stories about love and relationships are timeless.
Hey Moon! by Molly Nilsson
You don’t have to leave the Earth’s atmosphere to appreciate the beauty of outer space. You can enjoy plenty of it right where you are! In her 2008 synth-pop classic, Swedish singer-songwriter Molly Nilsson sings a loving ode to the moon. Nilsson’s lyrics address the moon as a friend and describe the touching relationship the two of them share.
The message is universal – wherever we are, we can find comfort and familiarity in looking at the moon. Meanwhile, her gentle keyboard arpeggios harken back to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” emphasizing that this appreciation for the beauty of the moon stretches over time and space. In 2011, American singer-songwriter John Maus also famously covered this song, remaining beautifully faithful to Nilsson’s original.
Space Truckin’ by Deep Purple
Ever thought about how cool it would be to party all over the galaxy? British hard-rock band Deep Purple do just that in this 1972 jam. They travel through the solar system and beyond having fun. “Space Truckin’” is a light-hearted look at space travel in which the members of Deep Purple take their love of adventure and excitement to the extreme and party beyond the atmosphere.
This song seems to speak to a desire to have a much fun as possible, even if that means venturing far from home. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s distinctive electric riff, inspired by the Batman theme-song, adds the fast-paced sci-fi feel!
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Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra
You don’t need a spaceship to go to space. Sometimes all you need is a kiss. “Fly Me to the Moon” was originally written by Bart Howard in 1954, but ten years later, at the dawn of NASA’s Apollo missions, Frank Sinatra would record his famous version.
When we’re in love, we often feel like we’re flying away beyond the stars, and that’s the extended metaphor explored in “Fly Me to the Moon.” This song is about the bliss of romantic love, which takes us to magical, far-away places and makes us euphoric, as if we could “sing forevermore.”
The joyful melody and triumphant big band arrangement add to the passionate energy of this song. It’s not hard to understand why it is so often played at weddings!
Lost in Space by Aimee Mann
Aimee Mann’s 2002 song “Lost in Space” is a more cynical take on an outer space metaphore. The lyrics describe drifting aimlessly with no sense of direction or destination to guide you. Mann reminds us just how unpleasant it would be to find yourself lost in space with no control over your movements.
The haunting image of “a place / Where planets shift / And the moon’s erased” brings to mind feelings of confusion and unfamiliarity, and Mann’s repeated claim, “I’m just pretending to care / Like I’m not even there,” tells us that her narrator has given in to numbness and hopelessness.
The bitter lyrics coupled with the tired, lackadaisical melody suggest that this is a song about grief or depression, and it uses the image of outer space to describe a feeling all too familiar to many of us.
Astronomy Domine by Pink Floyd
“Astronomy Domine” comes from Pink Floyd’s first album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and it takes us on a psychedelic adventure through outer space. The actual storyline is up for interpretation. Perhaps this is literal journey to the stars, or perhaps it is an emotional inner journey that feels otherworldly.
In any case, “Astronomy Domine” uses a lot of strong, concrete sensory imagery and sound devices to immerse the listener in its outer space atmosphere, including vague NASA radio chatter, lyrical references to celestial bodies and otherworldly landscapes, and high-tech sound effects. The artful vocal harmonies and electric instrumentation also come together to make listening to this song a truly transcendental experience.
The title of the piece, “Astronomy Domine,” harkens back to the days of alchemy, astrology, and other widely-held beliefs that stress the relationship between humans and the celestial bodies. Pink Floyd explores this theme in the most direct way possible: by taking us to outer space through their music! Songs like this one helped establish the futuristic, cerebral sound for which Pink Floyd would become famous.
space girl by Frances Forever
Indie singer-songwriter Frances Forever said they were inspired to write this upbeat love song while watching and episode of Star Trek. The light, floaty melody and vocal arrangements take us to the carefree, zero-gravity world of young love. Bolstered by copious cosmic imagery, the lyrics describe the admiring feelings of an “earth girl” for a “space girl.”
Perhaps the space girl really is from another world, or perhaps the narrator is just so enamored of her that she seems that way. Either way, “space girl” puts a fun spin on traditional love songs. Frances Forever hits upon something profound when they sing, “Space Girl, I saw a lunar eclipse / Looked like how I feel ‘bout your lips.”
This is a great observation for a space-themed song! Sometimes emotions so strong and beautiful that the only way to really capture them is through a celestial metaphor.
We gotta throw in this Elton John classic here.
Rocket Man by Elton John
Lots of us have dreams of finding adventure and excitement in outer space, and although astronauts are often viewed as heroes, the reality is that theirs is an incredibly grueling profession. Imagine being sent on extremely dangerous missions to the middle of nowhere, as far from your loved ones as you can get, for weeks at a time.
Well, some people really do this for a living! Musician Elton John and songwriter Bernie Taupin empathize with the struggles of the modern astronaut in “Rocket Man,” and perhaps its roots in empathy are what made this song such a massive hit. Inspired by a story by Ray Bradbury and song of the same name by American psychedelic folk band Pearls Before Swine, the lyrics describe the feelings of isolation, homesickness, and boredom experienced by the titular Rocket Man.
It’s hard not to pity the poor guy.
Since the Space Age, the idea of space travel has been heavily mythologized and idealized, and that’s reflected in a lot of the songs on this list, but in “Rocket Man,” Elton John challenges these notions and keeps us grounded in reality, reminding us of just how lucky we are to be at home on Earth.
So, why are there so many great songs about space? One reason why people have always had a special relationship with space is that it gives us a sense of perspective. It reminds us how vast the universe is and how many ideas there are to explore. The songs on this list showcase a number of different perspectives. Space means different things to each of us.
In some of these songs, space is a void of darkness, danger, and isolation, and in others, it’s a fantasyland of wonder, adventure, and discovery. Despite their differences, each of these songs helps remind us that there is a lot more to life than what is right in front of us. There is a whole vast cosmos out there to be considered.