In 1957, Billy Lee Riley had a hit record
With “Flying Saucer Rock and Roll,”
Commonly assumed to be what is termed
“a Novelty Song.”
But what if Billy Lee was serious?
What if he was, in fact,
Actually visited by 3-foot high green men
With interesting and unique variations
On the traditional modal scale
Who taught him the number?
Billy Lee was from Pocohantas Arkansas-
Isn’t that the sort of place they always land?
I mean, I have yet to hear of a report
Of an alien abduction of
A graduate student at MIT.
“Flying Saucer Rock and Roll” was produced by Sam Phillips,
legendary owner of Sun Records
(note the celestial theme here.)
Earlier on, Phillips had cut tracks with Howlin’ Wolf,
Resulting in Wolf’s first hits
“How Many More Years” and “Moanin’ the Blues.”
The latter is regarded by music historians as
Having the most unearthly vocal ever recorded.
Soon after, Wolf moved to Chicago,
Where Sun Ra made his base
Having moved there from Alabama.
In 1936, Sun had had a visitation
From a man from Saturn
Who took him to his planet
And taught him their ways.
This, mind you, is a full decade from when
Kenneth Arnold, and aviator and businessman from Boise Idaho
Reportedly observed nine flying saucers
Hovering around Mt. Rainier
And 15 years before George Adamski, a Polish-American,
Claimed to have ridden in them and
Wrote books about the experience, including
“Inside Space Ships” and “Flying Saucer Farewell.”
Kinda makes you think, doesn’t it?
When I was a very little boy,
My favorite show in the universe was
“My Favorite Martian”, starring
Ray Walston as the titular extra-terrestial
And a young Bill Bixby as a reporter
Hiding him from the government.
And what 4-year old boy wouldn’t want
To grow antennae out of the back of his head,
Turn invisible at will,
Communicate telepathically with dogs and goldfish,
Levitate toast across the kitchen to his plate,
And live in an apartment over a garage
In LA (which seemed infinitely more glamorous
Than living in a ranch house in Ontario New York
Even then to my kindergarten brain.)
Around 15 years later, I was actually living in Los Angeles,
Pursuing my dream of becoming a famous writer,
My efforts in that direction usually consisting of
Calling in sick to work, smoking a bunch of dope,
And watching daytime TV.
So, imagine my excitement when I discovered
The local station ran re-runs of “My Favorite Martian”!
Beside myself, I settled in on the filthy, seed & stem-filled couch and…
It was WRETCHED.
The most unwatchable piece of crap I’d ever sat through.
(And, lest some people get the impression
I’d become a snob,
I came to the revelation around the same time
That “Green Acres” was the most
Revolutionary and incendiary program
Ever broadcast on American television,
An opinion I still hold today.)
But, I digress—the point I want to make is that,
Disappointing as some trips down Memory Lane proved,
The enjoyment of listen to
Rocket 88, Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy,
Astronomy Domine, and even After the Goldrush
(with Neil’s ‘silver spaceships flying in the yellow haze of the sun’)
has never diminished,
both with and without chemical enhancement.
Draw your own conclusions.
Because, who the hell doesn’t want to be an alien?
Oh yeah, I remember now—
It’s the Misfits of the world
That are possessed by an indescribable urge,
A bottomless need to be ‘the other,’
That being that they are not
Because the place where they find themselves
Simply will not do,
Not do AT ALL.
Society frowns on this, which sometimes manifests itself
In pathological pitchfork & torchlit hatred,
But more often in a pursy-lipped disapproval—
“You don’t REALLY want to do that do you?”
“Being a Martian is fine, but
how will you make a living?”
It’s like the joke my father never tires of telling me,
Even though I’m in my late 50s—
“What’s the difference between an engineering,
physics and English major?
The engineering major asks ‘How does that work?’
The physics major asks ‘Why does that work?’
The English major asks
‘Would you like fries with that?’”
JESUS CHRIST DAD GIVE IT A BREAK.
Without Poets, there wouldn’t even BE space—
It would all be just a bunch of dust and rocks
Swirling around the infinite dark dirty vacuum cleaner bag
Of your arid soul.
It’s poetry, not sequential equations,
That makes us look at the stars
With hope, awe, and wonder.
Is there such a thing as
There is now, because I just said it,
So let the Facebook brickbats rip from
Here to Alpha Centauri.
Today’s cyber-noise is just another distraction
From the music of the spheres,
From the real mysteries of the cosmos.
Like—I wonder if Sun Ra and his Arkestra
Would have been willing to take a small child
From some Podunk town in upstate New York
On their “Rocket Number Nine taking off for the planet Venus
Probably not. I didn’t play sax like John Gilmore,
Or bass like Ronnie Boykins.
Not to mention the legal ramifications.
It doesn’t really matter, because a whole lot of us
Are stowaways on that ship,
And by this time have traveled so long and far
That there is no going back
Even if we wanted to.