Archive for the ‘song’ Category

Apollo 13 (XIII) Returns to Earth

April 17, 2018

April 17, 1970

With the world anxiously watching, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returns to Earth.

On April 11, the third manned lunar landing mission was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise. The mission was headed for a landing on the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon. However, two days into the mission, disaster struck 200,000 miles from Earth when oxygen tank No. 2 blew up in the spacecraft. Swigert reported to mission control on Earth, “Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” and it was discovered that the normal supply of oxygen, electricity, light, and water had been disrupted. The landing mission was aborted, and the astronauts and controllers on Earth scrambled to come up with emergency procedures. The crippled spacecraft continued to the moon, circled it, and began a long, cold journey back to Earth.

The astronauts and mission control were faced with enormous logistical problems in stabilizing the spacecraft and its air supply, as well as providing enough energy to the damaged fuel cells to allow successful reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Navigation was another problem, and Apollo 13‘s course was repeatedly corrected with dramatic and untested maneuvers. On April 17, tragedy turned to triumph as the Apollo 13 astronauts touched down safely in the Pacific Ocean.

Major Tom (Coming Home) in Esperanto

March 6, 2018

Sometimes I’m just moved to translate something.  This song has spent some time in my notebook, so I’m presenting it here.  I’m pretty sure the syllables work. Enjoy.

Standing there alone,
The ship is waiting.
“All systems are ‘Go.’”
“Are you sure?”
Control is not convinced,
But the computer
Has the evidence.
No need to abort.
The countdown starts.

Watching in a trance,
The crew is certain.
Nothing left to chance,
All is working.
Trying to relax
Up in the capsule.
“Send me up a drink,”
Jokes Major Tom.
The count goes on.

Four, three, two, one
Earth below us
Drifting, falling.
Floating weightless
Coming, coming home.

Second stage is cut.
We’re now in orbit.
Stabilizers up,
Running perfect.
Starting to collect
Requested data.
“What will it affect
When all is done?”
Thinks Major Tom.

Back at ground control
There is a problem.
Go to rockets full
Not responding.
“Hello Major Tom,
Are you recieving?
Turn the thrusters on.
We’re standing by.”
There’s no reply.


Across the stratosphere
a final message
“Give my wife my love.”
Then nothing more.

Far beneath the ship
The world is mourning.
They don’t realize
He’s alive.
No one understands
But Major Tom sees.
“Now the last command.
This is my fault
I’m coming home.”

Refrain 2x

Sole starante,
La ŝip’ atendas.
“Ĉio en ordo.”
“Vere ĉu?”
Ne certas direktor’,
Sed komputilo
Montras datumojn.
Ne nuligende.

Trance spektante
Ŝipanoj certas
neniom da risk’,
Penante malstreĉi
En kosmoŝipo
“Donu al mi drinki,”
Ŝercas Major’ Tom.
Kalkul’ daŭradas.

Kvar, tri, du, unu
Tero sub ni
Drive, fale.
Venas ni hejmen.

Dua etap’ finis.
Ni nun orbitas.
Stabiligiloj nun
Komencu kolekti
La datumaron.
“Kio ŝanĝiĝos
Post fina far’?”
Pensas Major’ Tom.

Ĉe la komandcentro
Nova problemo.
Eku la raketojn
Ne respondas
“Saluton Major’ Tom,
Ĉu vi ricevas?
Raketojn ŝaltu nun!
Ni atendas vin.”
Ne respondas li.


Trans la stratosfero
Fina mesaĝo,
“Amon al edzin’.”
Nenion plu.

Sub la kosmoŝip’
La mond’ funebras
Ili ne scias
Li vivas!
Neniu komprenas
sed Tom nun diras,
“Jen finordono,
Mi ja kulpas,

Rekanto dufoje


RWHS #3 Pioneer 10 Launched to Jupiter

March 2, 2018

This day in 1973 Pioneer 10, the world’s first outer-planetary probe, is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a mission to Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet. In December 1973, after successfully negotiating the asteroid belt and a distance of 620 million miles, Pioneer 10 reached Jupiter and sent back to Earth the first close-up images of the spectacular gas giant.  In June 1983, the NASA spacecraft left the solar system and the next day radioed back the first scientific data on interstellar space. NASA officially ended the Pioneer 10 project on March 31, 1997, with the spacecraft having traveled a distance of some six billion miles. Headed in the direction of the Taurus constellation, Pioneer 10 will pass within three light years of another star–Ross 246–in the year 34,600 A.D. Bolted to the probe’s exterior wall is a gold-anodized plaque, 6 by 9 inches in area, that displays a drawing of a human man and woman, a star map marked with the location of the sun, and another map showing the flight path of Pioneer 10. The plaque, intended for intelligent life forms elsewhere in the galaxy, was designed by astronomer Carl Sagan.

RWHS-2: The Alamo

February 24, 2018

My This Day in HIstory email alerted me to this today, so I felt it was appropriate. This Real World Harper Song is sung by Frankie Avalon.


On this day in 1836, in San Antonio, Texas, Colonel William Travis issues a call for help on behalf of the Texan troops defending the Alamo, an old Spanish mission and fortress under attack by the Mexican army.A native of Alabama, Travis moved to the Mexican state of Texas in 1831. He soon became a leader of the growing movement to overthrow the Mexican government and establish an independent Texan republic. When the Texas revolution began in 1835, Travis became a lieutenant-colonel in the revolutionary army and was given command of troops in the recently captured city of San Antonio de Bexar (now San Antonio). On February 23, 1836, a large Mexican force commanded by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana arrived suddenly in San Antonio. Travis and his troops took shelter in the Alamo, where they were soon joined by a volunteer force led by Colonel James Bowie.

Though Santa Ana’s 5,000 troops heavily outnumbered the several hundred Texans, Travis and his men determined not to give up. On February 24, they answered Santa Ana’s call for surrender with a bold shot from the Alamo’s cannon. Furious, the Mexican general ordered his forces to launch a siege. Travis immediately recognized his disadvantage and sent out several messages via couriers asking for reinforcements. Addressing one of the pleas to “The People of Texas and All Americans in the World,” Travis signed off with the now-famous phrase “Victory or Death.”

Only 32 men from the nearby town of Gonzales responded to Travis’ call for help, and beginning at 5:30 a.m. on March 6, Mexican forces stormed the Alamo through a gap in the fort’s outer wall, killing Travis, Bowie and 190 of their men. Despite the loss of the fort, the Texan troops managed to inflict huge losses on their enemy, killing at least 600 of Santa Ana’s men.

The brave defense of the Alamo became a powerful symbol for the Texas revolution, helping the rebels turn the tide in their favor. At the crucial Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 910 Texan soldiers commanded by Sam Houston defeated Santa Ana’s army of 1,250 men, spurred on by cries of “Remember the Alamo!” The next day, after Texan forces captured Santa Ana himself, the general issued orders for all Mexican troops to pull back behind the Rio Grande River. On May 14, 1836, Texas officially became an independent republic.

RWHS-1: Gutenberg

February 22, 2018

A few years ago I posted about Real World Harper Songs [link] that I’ve begun compiling into playlists on YouTube. I’ve decided to occasionally feature one on this blog, keeping to the ones of better quality. I’ll try not to repeat myself.

The first one is from Amy Burvall and is about that German innovator, Johannes Gutenberg.

Canada in MY Pocket, Updated

January 14, 2013


A while ago I found this video about Canadian currency.  After a while I decided to try updating it with verses for the Loonie & Twoonie.  My additions are the last two at the bottom.

Canada in My Pocket

Performed by Michael Mitchell

This song describes the significance of the symbols found on some of the Canadian coins.


I’ve got Canada in my pocket
A little bit of history
A penny, and a nickel
And a quarter and a dime
Mean a lot to you and me
It’s more than pocket money
They’re the symbols of our land
They’re pictures of important things
For which this country stands

The maple leaf, the maple leaf
Is a beautiful sight to see
It waves ‘hello” to us below
From the top of a maple tree
And with every year that passes
It grows like you and me
So should we all grow straight and tall
Like the lovely maple tree

The beaver, oh the beaver
Is a beautiful sight to see
He’s a happy, furry animal
Like a teddy bear with teeth
He’s never ever lazy
He works all night and day
Building houses for his family
He’s got no time to play

The schooner, oh the schooner
Is a beautiful sight to see
It’s a great big wooden sailing ship
That can sail across the sea
It brings to other countries
The things their people need
And brings back things
Like chocolate bars
And books for us to read

The caribou, the caribou
Is a beautiful sight to see
He’s a really big strong animal
I’m sure you’ll all agree
He looks like Santa’s reindeer
And he loves it when
The wind blows cold
So he lives up north
With the polar bears
‘Cause he likes the ice and snow

Unofficial Additions for the Loonie & Twoonie:

The loon, Oh the loon
Is a beautiful sight to see.
He’s a lovely water-dwelling bird
I’m sure you’ll all agree.
He lives on ponds and rivers
And has a call that’s quite unique.
He doesn’t like to walk on land
And catches fish with his long beak.

The polar bear, the polar bear
Is a beautiful sight to see.
He’s a big white furry animal
I’m sure you’ll all agree.
He lives up near the glaciers
And sleeps when it gets cold.
He feeds on fish and caribou,
Or so that’s what I’m told.

Real World Harper Songs

April 4, 2012

I’m guessing your first question is, “What is a Harper Song?” In Anne McAffrey’s fictional series, Dragonriders of Pern, Harpers are the teachers, judges, and advisers of the people.  Much of their education is in the form of Harper ballads or teaching ballads which are used to teach the common folk about their duty to the dragonriders and about the menace of Thread.

A while ago, I began searching YouTube to find examples of songs that could be used as teaching aids in the real world.  I began with such historic ballads as Sink the Bismark and Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I found many sources ranging from the comical yet educational Animaniacs and Schoolhouse Rock tunes from the 1970’s to  many historical ballads sung by Johnny Horton and Fess Parker.  Very recently I happened upon a British based collection from Horrible Histories.

A history teacher in Hawaii has also joined the fray, creating historical music videos of varying quality based on popular songs in the best harper tradition.  I’ve collected many of these tunes in a playlist in no particular order on youtube. Real World Harper Songs.

Here [link] is a list of all the playlists of Real World Harper Songs that I’ve created on YouTube.