Thing a Week 47 – I’m Your Moon

August 25th, 2006

A few people suggested I do a song about Pluto, and I thought it was a fine idea. It was turning around in my head last week when the first line of the chorus came to me, as if from deep space.

As you certainly know by now, Pluto is not a planet anymore. Just yesterday the International Astronomical Union made it official by redefining “planet.” Pluto is a now considered a dwarf planet, along with a few other small, icy spherical things out there. Obviously very upsetting to Pluto. As you are also no doubt aware, Pluto’s moon Charon is kind of unusual: it’s about half the size of Pluto, which is pretty large for a moon. And it doesn’t orbit around Pluto, they actually orbit around each other, faces locked, like dancers. You wouldn’t be crazy to think of them as a double dwarf planet.

What I’m getting to is this: Charon sings this song to Pluto.

I’m Your Moon

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47 Responses to “Thing a Week 47 – I’m Your Moon”

  1. Steve C. says:

    It’s a good thing you’re planning to take a rest after 52 TAW’s — I’m not sure I can handle more than 52 favorite songs. And heck if each new release doesn’t tend to hop to the top of the list. Very nicely done JC …

    [Highly technical and extremely important postscript: I wrote "TAW's," but that's nto really right, is it? I mean, it's not 52 Thing a Weeks . . . I believe it's 52 Things a Week. Right? Great. Here comes another sleepless night.]

  2. Kodamakitty says:

    Another winner – I love this one! If I were still in high school making mixed tapes (cds now, alas!), this would definitely be on the love songs one and the songs for physics class!

    Steve – I think “Thing a Weeks” is more correct, since there aren’t 52 things in one week. I tend to leave off the apostrophe before the s, since it’s not part of a conjunction (it’s not “Thing a Week is”), and so, TAWs would help you get your rest.

    Don’t blame me. Blame the plain-clothes nun I had for an English teacher in high school.

    But I digress – another great song. Hope to catch the book signing in Ann Arbor in October!

    ^_^

  3. Great tune. To the outside listener, not familiar with the scientific subtext, it could just be any love song from one lover to another, that no one else understands. Beautiful. I wrote a song like that once about L’Hospital’s rule. Their love is “irrational”…get it? Okay, yours is better.

    Nicely done, you sonuvabitch,
    Eric

  4. P.S. From having met her, your mother really is very nice.

  5. jpez says:

    I believe TAW’s is correct — the apostrophe rule changes for acronyms.

  6. Alyssa says:

    This is one of your best ones! LOVE IT! In fact, I love ALL the science/math ones!

  7. Da draußen in der Kälte…

    Noch einmal Thema Pluto. Auf einer Konferenz treffen sich Eierköpfe und wissen nicht, was sie mit neu entdeckten Himmelskörpern anfangen sollen. Soll man diese zu Planeten ernennen? Dann hätten wir elf davon im Sonnensystem. Neee, lasst ma’. D…

  8. [...] Oh, and like zefrank, I feel sorry for pluto as well. • • •  [...]

  9. Paul says:

    Shouldn’t the lyric be, “it’s the rest of the WORLDS (with an “s”) that look so small”?

    But either way, great song, well worth “Charon” with all my friends.

  10. Greg says:

    Love the song. Brilliantly done! If you’re not interested in the technical aspects of acronyms and apostrophes, you can stop here.

    Although many people use apostrophes when constructing the plural form of an acronym because it just looks right, this popular usage is, technically speaking, absolutely incorrect. Apostrophes are used to construct the possessive form of a noun and contractions — never plurals. The plural form of TAW is TAWs. However, like “irregardless”, so many people use apostrophes in this way that it has become common usage. There is definitely no rule that requires it, though.

  11. Erik Agard says:

    Love it!

    jpez, I believe you’re wrong. Even if you do put an “s” on the end, I’m pretty sure it shouldn’t be accompanied by an apostrophe.

  12. Tabby says:

    *suspects that she’ll be telling her friends that she’s their moon for quite some time*

  13. matt says:

    I was wondering when a petition would be made to bring it back:
    http://pleasesavepluto.org/pluto/petition-to-iau/

    Bring It Back!!!!

  14. Tom Smith says:

    Yowzah! Catchy and sweet. Very nice. (And, thankfully, completely different from what I’m working up for Dragon*Con.)

  15. I miss PLOTO alreay… Poor lonely Ploto banished and sad. thanks for the wonderful tribute song.

    BTW the apostrophe only shows ownership otherwise it is just an “s”.

  16. Steve C. says:

    In my rush to be the first to have the chance to say “OMG JC YOU ARE TEH ROCK!!1!” I not only typed poorly, I articulated poorly: my concern was twofold. Part 1 was the acronym, for which I believe TAWs is technically preferred but TAW’s is increasingly acceptable (at least in some circles).

    More troubling for me is where to put the “s” the first time one writes out 52 “Thing(s) a Week(s).” I believe the preferred choice might be to avoid sentence constructions that would require one to pluralize the phrase (avoiding the ambiquity the first responder to my query notes), but then I’m going to have some problems when I get to this past year in my memoirs. A related example: is it soup de jours or soups de jour?

    PS JC YOUR ARE TEH ROCK!! OMG!!11!!

    PPS Ploto?

  17. Steve C. says:

    Alyssa:

    Among JoCo’s many gifts is the genuine artisitic ability to write meaningful songs that are about their content but simultaneously many other things at once. His “science and math” songs — and heck, most of his tunes — often resonate because of that duality. Is Your Moon a science song, or a love song that distills the essence of couplehood down to the fact it’s [you&me] vs. the world? If you didn’t know he who crushes everything was a squid, and even if you do, doesn’t everyone feel that way sometimes? Isn’t there a little Mr Spock and Bigfoot in all of us? . . . (“The answer…is no.”)

  18. Joe says:

    Wow! I love it…makes my top 10. Definitely playing this when I have that cute nerdy girl over. This is what it sounds like to be soft-rocked by a nerd.

  19. Steve Simmons says:

    A surprisingly sweet little tune. Well done.

  20. Jerry says:

    Nice! Very different sound, especially the beginning. And poor Pluto deserves it. Pluto, you’ll always be a planet to me!

  21. jpez says:

    Friends, it appears somebody has already addressed our Grammar Dilemma: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=499296. Frankly, I’m glad I was wrong because there’s no reason that the apostrophe should be there — I thought it was just a quirky/stupid grammar rule.

    @matt: Since when has an Internet petition ever accomplished ANYTHING? (Not that the sentiment is wrong…)

  22. Alyssa says:

    Well, it’s a moon. . .singing to a planet. . . GREATEST SONG EVER!!!!!!!!

  23. Mattie says:

    Love!

    Imho, “planet” is a cultural word used to describe the brighter, coloured objects in the sky that are not stars. It’s not a scientific description, seeing as we were using it long before we realised that the rest of the universe isn’t actually orbiting us.

    We do need a scientific word for things that have become rotund under their own gravity and (possibly) orbit another body (as Earth orbits the Sun and the Moon orbits the Earth). But we shouldn’t use planet. Planet is already taken, it already has a meaning. It was never going to be an accurate scientific description. You may as well start trying to co-opt the phrase “The Great God In The Sky” as a scientific term for the Sun.

    Blerg. Adding that stuff about having to clear it’s own orbit just to exclude Pluto makes for a mean and cumbersome term.

    I love this song. ^_^

  24. Ruth L. says:

    No Steve, it’s not 52 Things A Week either. Technically, that would mean 52 things each and every week. The plural of 1 Thing A Week is 52 Things A Year. I hope you will sleep better now.

  25. Michael says:

    Perhaps it would be clearer if we referred to fifty-two “Thing-a-Week”s.

  26. The Idiot says:

    Nice, Jo Co.

    You have a great ability to approach a subject from a unique perspective. All this talk about Pluto, nobody’s mentioned little, loyal Charon.

    And all this talk about grammar… Well, it’s just kinda sad, isn’t it?

  27. Glenn says:

    I’ve been surprised at the strong defense of Pluto. Yes, textbooks and mnemonics (and trivia games) will have to be adjusted. But that sort of thing happens all the time. No one raised an international furor (that I know of) when they adjusted the length of the meter according to a wavelength or the speed of light. I’d rather have eight planets that we know are planets (yes, it does have a specific scientific definition) than an ever-increasingly complex of exceptions just to accomodate old mistakes we’re fond of.) Besides, it’s not like anyone had heard of Pluto before 1930.

    Holst was right!

    (I like the song, too.)

  28. Just a Joe says:

    Wow.

    I’d never thought I’d feeling like crying for a planet! (Well, except for ours maybe but that’s only because it’s immediate family).

    Nicely done sir!

  29. That is a most excellent song. I hope you don’t mind, but I slowed down the intro for this site about poor Planet Pluto.

    I also provided a link so everyone could hear this great tune in its entirety.

  30. By the way, I just bought “Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow” at CD Baby. Great songs!

  31. Aspera says:

    Appearently, it is “Commanders-in-Chief”, “Attorneys General” and “Secretaries of State”, even if it isn’t the same state the Secretaries represent. So by that line of reasoning it could very well be considered to be be 52 Things a Week.

    But because I don’t like the potentially confusing ambiguity, I think I would instead say “52 Things for 52 Weeks”, ala “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”. But 52 TAWs works because it’s not 52 things a week, but 52 “Thing A Week”s.

    Or we can just talk about this until we all get bored and fall asleep.

    I just love Charon singing a love song to help to heal Pluto wounded pride. Personally I was holding out for Ceres to become a planet again. Impossible or improbable love songs are rapidly becoming my favourite kind of song, threatening bizarre Christmas songs like “Chiron Beta Prime”

  32. Ben says:

    Whoppers Junior.

  33. Roar says:

    This is the sweetest song ever. I feel bad for Pluto and will never stop calling her a real planet.

  34. It also works as a song about any set of lovers (two or more) who can’t marry or don’t want to. It strikes me as particularly good for polyamorous people.

  35. Espresso says:

    I know I’m late to the party on this one, but – Wow. This song is surprisingly touching, it almost made me cry. Exceptional work, JC!

  36. Veri says:

    Yes, Week 47 was months and months ago, but this remains one of my favorite love songs. What will the Scorpios do, they asked at the time, without Pluto? We got better than a stinky old planet — we got a vision of dancing lover moons.

  37. Molly L. says:

    Wow, I jumped on the S.S. Thing A Week sort of late, didn’t I?

    Anyway, splendiferous work. Pluto and Charon are my new power couple, and I’ll surely be tossing and turning at night until I think of a “Brangelina”-esque portmanteau for them. “Chuto”? “Plaron”? Damn.

  38. [...] is a song by Jonathan Coulton. He’s really a fantastic songwriter. And this song is incredibly [...]

  39. Brian Excarnate says:

    Why not “We go round together” instead of “We go round and round…”? It sounds better and fits the song better.

    The song sorta reminds me of early REM–great versus, choruses that need work.

    IMHO on both, natch.

  40. LAN3 says:

    I gave this song a few listens before I paid close attention to the lyrics, and figured it to be a Pluto-Charon song– glad to see I was correct on this one, but of course it’s not the hardest thing to guess. It really is a sweet song, though my mind registered some friction at Charon’s use of the terms “year” and “world,” the former being hundreds of earth-years long, and the latter word encompassing either Earth or the solar system, depending on how you look at it. Still, after a few more listens, it’s hard not to see them as lovers, while, for example, our own moon is tidal-locked to show us only one face, while Earth spins easily– does that make our own moon some sort of pining shrimp, besotted with Earth, while only Earth’s inhabitants take note of the poor thing?

    Thanks for the superb song, and many many others, JoCo.

  41. Erik N says:

    I just found this song last night… I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a song on repeat four or five times before. My new favorite song? Maybe!

  42. Artoveli says:

    I love this song. Someone left a link to it on another site and I came to have a listen… it’s brilliant! :-D

  43. Sam says:

    This would go perfect on “Prop 8: The Soundtrack.”

  44. Bill Warren says:

    Beautiful! Absolutely, purely beautiful! I hang out with a number of “filksingers” and want to introduce them to this, but I have a problem — about halfway through the first chorus, my voice catches and I choke up.

    I can’t keep my composure together long enough to perform it. (With due credit, of course!)

    (Not necessarily for the stupid IAS ruling, but for how sweet the lyrics are as a love song, and the brilliant melody that brings them home.)

    You have a new “moon” — I’m going to check out the rest of your work now that I’ve found you (through the Larry Niven chat room, by the way.)

    Very, very nice! Thank you!

    William R. Warren, Jr.
    SF illustrator and occasional filksinger

    PS — I’d like to do a short animation of this (not-for-profit hobby project) and would like to have you critique it, and welcome you to use it if you like it.

  45. I love “I’m Your Moon” and put a link to it in an August 2007 entry in my now three-year-old Pluto Blog. Pluto is still a planet. I urge everyone to not blindly accept the controversial IAU demotion, done by only four percent of its members, most of whom are not planetary scientists. . Their decision was immediately opposed in a formal petition by hundreds of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. One reason the IAU definition makes no sense is it says dwarf planets are not planets at all! That is like saying a grizzly bear is not a bear, and it is inconsistent with the use of the term “dwarf” in astronomy, where dwarf stars are still stars, and dwarf galaxies are still galaxies. Also, the IAU definition classifies objects solely by where they are while ignoring what they are. If Earth were in Pluto’s orbit, according to the IAU definition, it would not be a planet either. A definition that takes the same object and makes it a planet in one location and not a planet in another is essentially useless. Pluto is a planet because it is spherical, meaning it is large enough to be pulled into a round shape by its own gravity–a state known as hydrostatic equilibrium and characteristic of planets, not of shapeless asteroids held together by chemical bonds. These reasons are why many astronomers, lay people, and educators are either ignoring the demotion entirely or working to get it overturned. And we will succeed.

  46. Beautiful song, Jonathan. I love that it is so clearly about Pluto / Charon but doesn’t make it explicit.