On August 21, 2017, the Earth will experience its first total solar eclipse since 1979. According to NASA estimates, more than 300 million people in North America may be able to directly view the 2017 total solar eclipse as its path of totality sweeps across portions of 14 U.S. states, stretching from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina, but a partial solar eclipse will be visible in every state as the moon moves across the sun.
While you (hopefully) already have your special glasses to safely view the eclipse, you’ll also need some music for this rare occasion.
Well before the 2017 solar eclipse, musicians have been singing about eclipses, black hole suns, and more. One of the most notable “eclipse” songs is Bonnie Tyler’s 1983 hit, “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Tyler will perform her song during the eclipse while on Royal Caribbean’s Total Eclipse Cruise, according to Rolling Stone. Tyler revealed that while the actual eclipse of the sun will last two minutes and 40 seconds, with a play time of over five minutes, her song is much longer.
“It had to be chopped about because it was so long,” Tyler said of the chart-topping tune.
“I never thought it would be played on the radio, in the beginning. It’s a massive song … that you hear on the radio all the time, whether it’s an eclipse or not.”
In 1973, Pink Floyd needed an epic finale for their masterpiece album, Dark Side of the Moon. Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters thought the concept album needed an “ending,” and “Eclipse” provided it with a repetitive melody that builds up, and then ends with a quiet outro with the lyrics, “And everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.”
In an interview with Billboard, Waters revealed that he wrote “Eclipse” more than a year after the other songs from Dark Side of the Moon were completed.
“One day I suddenly wrote that piece and said, ‘Hey, guess what, I think I’ve written the ending,'” he said.
As for that ending, some listeners pondered a negative meaning in the album’s final lyric, but Waters disagreed.
“That’s not to say the potential for the sun to shine doesn’t exist,” the Pink Floyd bassist told Classic Albums, according to UCR.
“Walk down the path towards the light, rather than walk into the darkness.”
The death of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell in May temporarily turned the band’s song, “Black Hole Sun” into a tribute song. But in 1994 it was a surprise hit for the Seattle grunge band, earning heavy rotation status on MTV and strangely covered by everyone from Anastacia to Paul Anka. In an interview with Uncut, Cornell revealed he wrote “Black Hole Sun” in his head while driving home from a recording studio 35 minutes from his Seattle home.
“It sparked from something a news anchor said on TV and I heard wrong,” the Soundgarden frontman said.
“I heard ‘blah blah blah black hole sun blah blah blah.’ I thought that would make an amazing song title. It all came together, pretty much the whole arrangement including the guitar solo that’s played beneath the riff. I spent a lot of time spinning those melodies in my head so I wouldn’t forget them. …Then I wrote the lyrics and that was similar, a stream of consciousness based on the feeling I got from the chorus and the title.”
Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd said he knew immediately that “Black Hole Sun” was “a heavy-hitting song.”
“I equated it with Stevie Wonder, that level of songwriting. Huge,” he said.
As for other songs to play during the 2017 solar eclipse, NPR compiled a list of 50 songs (with Spotify links!), including Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” King Harvest’s “Dancing in the Moonlight,” the Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun,” and Cat Stevens’ “Moonshadow.”
The 2017 total eclipse will start on August 21 at 1:16 p.m. ET in Lincoln Beach, Oregon, and will make its end at 2:48 p.m. ET near Charleston, South Carolina.
[Featured Image by JAXA/NASA/Hinode via Getty Images]