2003   SEPTEMBER 6   #249

The Raymond Scott Quintet and the Gene Lowell Chorus - By Rocket to the Moon

file removed at owner's request

By Rocket to the Moon was a musical introduction to space travel for children of the pre-Sputnik 1950s. Somehow the Children's Record Guild knew that the first moon rocket would not actually land on the moon but go around it. However, they also knew that the first trip to the moon would be by passenger ship with everyday novices on board who can't tell Luna from Earth and a captain who makes announcements like an airline pilot. ("Fasten safety belts, please, we're preparing to blast.") Also passengers who go "Oooooh!!!" at the window view and the lessons they're learning from an anonymous tour guide...

Of all my Children's Record Guild records, By Rocket to the Moon was my favorite. How then to explain that while I saved and still have all of these old records, I don't have this one? Especially in light of the fact that I received this one through the mail twice? Here's how: Some kid sat and bounced on my original copy in 1956, and it broke...and since it was the best in the Guild and I was unhappy, I wrote to them and they sent another copy as a gift. In 1959 this replacement record melted and warped in the sun. I tried melting it again and rolling it flat with a rubber ball, but no deal. The universe doesn't work like that. Dead moon record times two.

However, of all the Guild records, By Rocket to the Moon is the most committed to memory. I can still "hear" it from beginning to end in imagination. (In fact I'm doing it right now.) This proved handy in college when I needed to list the planets in the right order...fast. It's all in the song. (Is that cheating?)

Speaking of planets, I originally heard the Earth line in the song as "Then comes Earth, another planet..." Later my mother, who isn't a planet at all, explained it was "Then comes Earth, our mother planet," and I was plenty disappointed with that. I liked the throwaway line "another planet" better, like it was making some kind of casual reference to "just another one of those things, hardly worth mentioning." I still like the way I heard it better, but that's life.

I also thought the word "equator" in "We're on a mountain near the equator" was the space rocket equivalent of "airport," so I and my friends began launching toy rockets from our equator made of Lincoln Logs. I have since learned that's wrong, but on this one I prefer the standard line and more public understanding to my mistake, which was nevertheless thrilling.

Listen for the countdown, in which two seconds take longer than three.

Listen also for the welcome news that space travelers don't need credit cards.

- Rich Hilbert

TT-6:10 / 7MB / 160kbps 44.1khz
Young People's Records 15016 (1950)

Uncle Bri writes:
Just a little thought on By Rocket to The Moon. I played this track during my stint as the "wacky record guy" on a radio show called Basic Black. It was broadcast across Canada on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The coolest thing about the job was, not only playing far out records, but hearing from people who really liked these old recordings. I got an email from someone who was driving the down the road in Saskatoon Saskatchewan, and when By Rocket To The Moon came on, he recited the whole piece word for word.It blew his mind and left his wife in shock. He hadn't heard it since he was boy! Cool huh?