The Fall of Sputnik: 6 Songs for a Satellite
On this day in 1958 Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite to be put into orbit, fell to Earth after completing 1,440 orbits. The launch of Sputnik was seen as a major blow to the American quest for space superiority, and a significant step forward in the space race by the Soviet Union.
In the wake of the Russian achievement there was a profound sense of fear by the United States. The highly polished surface meant that anyone with a telescope could see the satellite as it passed overhead, and only added to the perception of vulnerability. Nonetheless, the United States was galvanized by the launch and would eventually overtake their Eastern counterparts to eventually claim first place in space technology development.
Still, the name Sputnik echoes down through the years, and we've put together a playlist to celebrate its fall.
When it comes to musicians that start with O' we prefer O'Death and 90s-era Dolores O'Riordan in her flag jumpsuit. We guess O'Brother would be third on that list. Their ode to Sputnik deals more metaphorical grounding of people beaten down by lies and propaganda than the elation of space elevation, but it's a good track for all that.
After Sputnik 1 came Sputnik 2, and the first time a living creature was sent into space. That creature was a female Russian stray dog named Laika that was sent aboard a scrapped together spacecraft rush to competition for a launch to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Bolshevik Evolution. The canine cosmonaut died within hours of the launch from overheating, which is sad until you realize that there was no way for Sputnik 2 to land and she would've died in the crash in the absolute best of circumstances. Akino uses the sad fate of Laika as an analogy for losing someone. An English translation of her lyrics is available in at the actual YouTube link above.
We don't know much about Anal Stench, and after typing their name into Google a few times we're not real keen on learning more. Seriously, Google needs to do away with the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button and replace it with "Not Looking For Porn" button. Anyway, here they are.
At least one man road the wave of Sputnik into rockabilly success. Jerry Englerth took the paranoia and headlines and turned them into an interstellar love story. Englerth is that rare rocker who put his family first, and went into business as a manager at Xerox, but he continued to write and record, and his music still finds an audience today!
We like to believe that Shades Apart's "Sputnik" is actually a sequel to Englerth's, and our satellite girl crash landed in New Jersey, coming into contact with Mark Vecchiarelli, who wrote a song about her before making that sweet commie space love.
Always sign off with Roky Erickson if you can, that's our motto.
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