When I was twelve years old there was a popular instrumental on the radio. It was called Telstar by a band named the Tornados. They were a British band, but I didn’t know that at the time and it didn’t really matter. It came out in 1962 a month after the Telstar communications satellite was launched and several months after astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth.
Those were heady times for a young lad. It wasn’t hard to imagine drifting around in dark space, orbiting the globe like a galactic hitchhiker whenever I heard that electronic organ. A mystical time indeed. I’d lie on the ground at night, sometimes alone, sometimes with my cousins or neighborhood friends, and stare at the stars twinkling above, memorizing names of constellations and always knowing which direction was north after identifying Polaris, the North Star. I heard Telstar in my mind’s ear all the while.
Though I never truly aspired to become an astronaut, I was awed by the excitement and the threat of danger in their adventures. Telstar has never failed to remind me of astronauts and their journeys. With boyish awe, I remember John Glenn and listen to that Telstar instrumental, indelibly linked to him in my head when I was twelve years old. He was a star. A star I can still look up to.
The Tornados – Telstar: