Calling Occupants

My favourite line from the old Klaatu song Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft arrives about a minute in when, after a second or two of no voice, the singer, presumably making the case to aliens who might be tuned in, sings:

We are your friends

The song came out in 1976. Four years later, Carl Sagan delivered Cosmos, his popular apology for the search for extraterrestrial life. I loved the song, read and copied quotes from the book and actually spent many hours on my back in the yard looking up at the stars, trying to connect the dots.

Looking back, it's little wonder that there was an audience for the song, the book. Those were Cold War days, and the chill fingered its way even into northeast Edmonton where I grew up. Mutual Assured Destruction, SALT, ICBMs, nuclear winter, armageddon, apocalypse—all these terms glimpsed on the pages of The Edmonton Journal.

We are your friends

Out of nowhere yesterday, the song was on the radio. Actually, not out of nowhere, but out of the imagination of Baba, the cool CKUA deejay who sent it out. It wasn't Klaatu, but a stunning cover version performed by a children's choir. This is what it sounded like as I made time through the Alberta spring:



And at about the 1:35 mark, there it is, the silence and then:

We are your friends

The thought occurred to me that, maybe, the singers aren't as much trying to convince the aliens to show their hand or hands (however many they have) as they are clinging to the belief that we are somehow still worth making contact with. The question has always been, is there intelligent life out there? Maybe the question is, are we friendly enough to make contact with?

I don't spend as much time thinking about whether we are, in the big picture, alone. Until something like the windshield and the heartbreaking sky and CKUA happen to me on the strange, strange Highway 2.

Baba, thanks for making contact.


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