Archive for May 9, 2011

Across the Universe

Posted in Biographical, Music with tags , , , , , on May 9, 2011 by telescoper

My first day back at the office for a while meant loads of forms, a revision lecture, and lots of time chatting with students about project choices for next year. I hope I convinced them all that I’m a terrible project supervisor and they really should pick someone else’s projects…

Anyway the upshot of all this is that I’m fair knackered, so in lieu of my usual meandering posts I’ll offer you a musical treat, one that’s quite different from the usual fare I serve up on this blog. Quite a few people pull my leg about my old-fashioned musical tastes, but I’m notpretending to be young and trendy by posting this piece. After all, the vocal artist, Brian Molko, lead singer of the popular beat combo Placebo,  is himself nearly forty and therefore nearly the same age as me. Oh well, perhaps not. Anyway, I found out about this recording, made last summer, from a friend and thought I’d post it because of its vaguely cosmic title and, well, other reasons.

The song Across the Universe was penned by John Lennon and appeared on the Beatles’ final album Let it Be. The appearance of the Sanskrit phrase “jai guru veda om” dates it to the time when the Beatles were dabbling with transcendental meditation; it involves a greeting to guru dev (a.k.a. Brahmananda Saraswati) as well as the mystic symbol om used as a mantra.

It’s impossible to translate “om” properly – that’s the whole point of a mantra, I guess – but one meaning attributed to it is a kind of primordial vibration. I’m tempted to suggest that it means the acoustic oscillations that created the temperature variations in the cosmic microwave background and seeded the formation of the large-scale structure of the Universe, but I won’t.

There’s a bonus second song in this clip, a cover version of Ne Me Quitte Pas by Jacques Brel, a singer and songwriter who should be on everybody’s list of famous Belgians, as indeed should Brian Molko as he was born in Belgium. That might be why he got to perform in the unlikely setting of the European Parliament in Brussels at event called I♥EU. I suspect there weren’t many UKIP members there…

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