Song Fu Final Challenge

July 24th, 2008

Song Fu Challenge #3 was to do an homage to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” that hit the main plot points and referenced the original song subtly at least once. Yes you’re right, I almost went with the first monkey in space, but I didn’t want to be accused of going overboard with the monkeys. So I went with the first dog in space instead.

Her name was Laika and she went up in Sputnik 2. In doing my “research” I discovered that Russian scientists recently released the truth about what happened to her during the launch, which is that she died just a few hours into it, and not after a week as they originally claimed. She died from stress and overheating (the cooling system malfunctioned and it was 104F in there) but mostly she died from being LAUNCHED INTO SPACE IN A FUCKING ROCKET.

I thought it would be much nicer if instead Laika gave scientists the finger, stepped out in a spacesuit and then disappeared. Whereabouts unknown…

You’ll catch the “Space Oddity” melody at the beginning of the guitar solo (and if you’re sharp and you listen to the same music I do, you may catch a reference to another thematically appropriate song in the phrase right after it).

This song is up against Jeff MacDougal’s catchy entry “High,” also sad and wistful and about space. I’m pretty happy with how my song turned out, but I think Jeff’s is pretty great too – please vote how you like, but certainly do not vote for me just because you think you’re supposed to. But here is mine:

Space Doggity

This and my other two Song Fu entries are now available in my store. I’m just saying.

62 responses to “Song Fu Final Challenge”

  1. Shig says:

    Thanx for that. I’ve always been a big Laika fan, so much so that that’s going to be the name of my first spaceship.

  2. Alan says:

    Fantasmagorical tune, sir. Although, I have to admit I kept waiting for ELO’s strings to come sweeping in and reclaim this song for their “Out Of the Blue” LP.

  3. David DeLaney says:

    This song makes me cry every time I listen to it. Thank you.


  4. Christopher Hawley says:

    thank you for a truly poignant song; it’s a damn’ good thing I dropped this into a playlist just ahead of Mandelbrot Set, or I would have completely. Lost. My. Sh*t.

    Got it back together enough to recall another story of Laika – Storming the Cosmos, by Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker(?) – and wonder if they’ve heard your work yet.

    Congratulations on the Song Fu victory!

    – CJH / esper

  5. Clayton Hove says:

    We need to create a newer, higher category of brilliant so this song can have a place to call home.


  6. Matt Dillon says:

    Maybe it’s the fact that I lost my own dog in May, or maybe it’s the fact that animals being used in this way always upsets me (even if a greater good comes of it — although it’s arguable whether Neil Armstrong’s second career in after-dinner talks is really a greater good!)… but damn, is thing song ever heartbreaking. A fine piece of work but, like I Am Legend, probably one that I can never play again for fear of losing my manly facade.

    Good work, Jonathan. Very good work.

  7. Bob Rossney says:

    It’s very late to be adding this – and if you blog like I do you’ll never read this – but the next time fortune takes you to Los Angeles you must go to Culver City and visit the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

    (I mean, assuming that you haven’t, which is kind of a stretch now that I think about it. But if you haven’t, GOOD LORD WILL YOU THINK IT’S AWESOME. Seriously. In fact, you’re in SF tonight. Get on a plane. You can see it tomorrow. It’s one of the best things in the entire world. Also, if Hodgman has never told you about this you should kill him over and over again until he apologizes. He certainly knows about it.)

    Specifically, you need to go up to the second floor and see what Mr. Wilson built with his MacArthur Fellowship. Yes, it’s Laika-related, but don’t let anyone spoil it for you.

  8. Kelly P says:

    It’s been a long time since a song has moved me in the way this one has. And I know emotion is the language of music, and a lot of it’s purpose, so I decided to acctually take the time to let you know how deeply his song effected me.

    It’s been almost a year since I lost a little dog named Chip, and for some reason this song makes that part of my heart that misses him just ache. He was never a “Good dog” in the traditional sense. His loss was tragic, and broke my heart completely. The chorus “Now I’m floating free, And the moon’s with me, And it’s bright enough, To light the dark” taps so deeply into that loss…

    I just wanted to thank you for the song, and all the effort that went into it. It’s lovely, and heartbreaking, and cathartic in a strange way. Thank you.

  9. K Cooke says:

    Damn it… I don’t even like dogs, but I always respected Laika and this song makes me cry a little every time I hear it.

  10. JR says:

    this is the saddest song I have ever heard every time it makes me cry why did they do this to that poor dog it never hurt anyone :'(

  11. KR says:

    Love the music. Poor Laika.

  12. David says:

    Thank you Jonathan! Wonderfully touching song. I hope to see you perform it again this year in SF.

    I introduced my 8-year-old daughter to this song on Christmas morning and she’s been crying, singing, and talking about Laika non-stop ever since.