Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Mixtape 4: Galileo Was Cool In His Own Way.

Galileo Galilei! Inventor of the telescope, discoverer of the heliocentric solar system, challenger of the Catholic Church right up to the very end...

...and guy that gets a lot of credit for stuff that he didn't actually do. Today, for no particular reason, I'm going to celebrate Galileo in song, while explaining what he really should be celebrated for.

Galileo bravely stood up to the Catholic church, right? First, by publishing a book that argued that the solar system revolved around the sun instead of Paris Hilton (as was more commonly believed, at the time), and second, by appearing at trial and appearing to renounce his theories, only to tell the church, about the Earth: but still, it moves.

“Someone Keeps Moving My Chair,” They Might Be Giants:





Or did he? According to histories, Galileo never said but still it moves as he left the room, and why would he? Having narrowly avoided further punishment, would an old, sick man then bring it all down on his head again?

“Platform Moon,” Jupiter One:



And if Galileo was the type to throw a parting shot over his shoulder as he left, why, then, would he have lied about the circumstances of the publication of his book in the first place? His sentence, after all, was in part to never discuss the subject again in his life. Would he have so quickly broken that order, having just been convicted of violating another church order?

I think not.

“London’s Mine” (White Rose Movement)



But Galileo at least created the theory that the solar system revolved around the sun, right?

“White Moon,” White Stripes:



Actually, no. Nicolaus Copernicus -- a Polish astronomer -- did that. Copernicus was the kind of guy who would relax by translating Greek poetry into Latin; one gets the feeling that if Playstation had been around back then, we'd still be talking about retrograde motion.

“She Moves In Her Own Way,” The Kooks:



What Galileo did was look through a telescope and find Jupiter's moons, and observe the phases of Venus. That served as empirical proof that the old view of the universe was wrong in two respects. First, if moons revolved around Jupiter, then the old belief that everything revolved around the Earth was obviously wrong.

Second, if Venus had phases, then that meant that centuries later, I could look up at the sky and correctly tell Sweetie that the bright star underneath the moon was not a star at all, but was instead Venus. And Sweetie could likely think to herself one of two things: I am lucky I married him, or Does he ever shut up?

“Interplanet Janet,” Schoolhouse Rock:



Galileo, by the way, was nicknamed "The Wrangler." Wouldn't it be cool if instead of Wrangler jeans, we had Galileo jeans?

“I Move On,” Catherine Zeta- Jones:



Galileo also didn't invent the telescope. He improved on it. Imagine being known for centuries as a genius simply because you improved something someone else invented. Nowadays, if we invented something and then someone else improved on it, it's likely that we would file suit against Bill Gates and then in turn have a suit filed against us by Xerox and end up arguing whether a "trash can" symbol is copyrightable. (Answer: Yes.)

“3rd Planet,” Modest Mouse:



Things were more loosey-goosey in the olden days. Why, back then, someone could quickly publish a book about, say, evolutionary theory, rushing to do so after receiving a letter from someone else describing the exact same theory -- and become eternally famous. Ask yourself why we have "The Darwin Awards" and not the "Alfred Russell Wallace Awards."

“Moving on Up,” Primal Scream:



Bonus Track: “Love The One You’re With,” By Stephen Stills because Primal Scream seems to have entirely lifted the acoustic guitar from this song. Which, of course, would have been fine in the olden days, but these days will likely end up with Xerox suing Primal Scream:





Are you Afraid of Public Speaking?

2 comments:

lisapepin said...

This was GREAT! That's one of my favorite TMBG songs. But there was a noticable omission on this list: "Galileo" by the Indigo Girls. Not a fan, or was it too obvious a choice?

Also, I have to know: What was the inspiration behind this week's mix tape? You have to admit, Galileo is a rather esoteric theme. Was it his birthday or something?

Briane P said...

It was actually prompted by Middle talking about astronomy and the Galilean moons, after which I asked her if she could name the planets, and she couldn't.