Space Music: Monty Python’s ‘Galaxy Song’

BY Robert Lamb / POSTED December 17, 2013
"Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving..." (Universal Pictures) Eric Idle and Terry Jones in “The Meaning of Life.” (Universal Pictures)

Leave it to Monty Python (and more specifically Eric Idle) to so succinctly sum up humanity’s tiny place in the known universe. Their 1983 film “The Meaning of Life” contains a number of sureal, hilarious, disgusting and troubling sketches on the ephemeral nature of our existence — and they cap it all off with this wonderful musical number:

That is of course “The Galaxy Song,” a great bit of space music in its use of cosmic data to belittle humanity’s place in the cosmos — but how does it hold up today? Consider “A study of the Galaxy Song” by Eric Idle Paul Kohlmiller, which goes through the lyrics line-by-line and gives a 2003/2007 take on the accuracy.

But of course after a few decades of science, there’s room for improvement. So in 2012, Idle teamed up with Brian Cox to update the lyrics with some additional mind-blowing science — all to promote BBC2′s second season of “Wonders of Life.”  It’s pretty great, though I could do without Cox rambling on in it like the world’s most stoned physicist. Let’s have a listen:

The original song played on the space shuttle Atlantis during mission STS-125 back in 2009. I’m also quite fond of it’s placement in DJ Irk’s “Christmas Attack Zone” mix from 2012.


About the author: Robert Lamb is a senior writer and podcaster at HowStuffWorks, where he co-hosts Stuff to Blow Your Mind with Julie Douglas. He has a love for monsters, an aversion to slugs and a hankering for electronic music.

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