“If you are seated when you hear this song–you have to get off your ass, and shake something.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson on Aretha Franklin’s “Old Landmark”.
Damn, Neil, I didn’t know you got down like that, dude! Hold up, I need a visual:
As part of their excellently curated Guest DJ Series (to which Jemaine Clement and Kari Byron have contributed), KCRW asked the beloved astrophysicist, author and Hayden Planetarium director to compile a mix of five songs that have been important to him throughout his life. In addition to choosing an extremely eclectic mix of songs that are all classics in their own right, deGrasse Tyson also offers poetically insightful analysis (shocking) about the emotional gravity of these tracks and why they are universal, even down to the cosmic sense of that word.
For Koko Taylor’s “I’m A Woman” he discusses the importance of that message as it transcends any specific demographic and is about the passion and strength of people who find themselves in an unfairly, culturally devalued group. He cracks wise about being a bum of an astrophysicist were he to not enjoy Van Morrison’s “Moondance” and then, somehow, and convincingly, compares Styx’s “Come Sail Away” to the open-endedness of life! And all of this is before he gets into the fact that the real reason he likes this Styx is because it’s about an ALIEN ABDUCTION. Are you kidding me? This is is the best day in nerdy music since…well, yesterday.
Check out the playlist below:
deGrasse Tyson’s late night talk show on the National Geographic Channel, Star Talk, launches on April 20.