SONG: Clockwork of the Sky


“Clockwork of the Sky” [Download]
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ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on BBC, 8 Sep 2023, “Asteroid behaving unexpectedly after Nasa’s deliberate Dart crash,” as used in the post Space mission seems to have changed asteroid’s orbit.

Had the house to myself today, which makes the recording process easier. Of course, it helps if you have words to sing. Because the house was empty, I wrote this the old fashioned way, by hand, on paper. I had the whole song recorded (real bass, two real guitar tracks, three tracks of drums), I had the basics of the melody, and I knew what it would be about: an asteroid deflection that didn’t go as planned.

But finding a way in was kinda hard.

Road trips have been a theme lately in my life, so this wound up starting out as a road trip song. I-4 is the weird diagonal interstate in Florida that connects I-75 near Tampa to I-95 north of Orlando … and Cape Canaveral, where the Kennedy Space Center and Patrick Space Force Base are. My thought was to narrate a story about an asteroid scientist who knows the mission has gone awry and is trying to leave town to get to safety, but starts out stuck in traffic, desperate to get out from under what’s coming down.

The specific words took a turn, though … and the main work was cutting them down to fit the line-lengths. So now it’s more of an impressionistic thing about the scientists going to KSC and realizing the asteroid they hit is not behaving as expected. Maybe I should have put the word “asteroid” in the lyrics, but nah. Clockwork of the sky is right. Mechanisms of delicate balance.

The hard work here was taking away – I had to cut whole measures out from the original verses, and the solo is still sort of meandering (partially backwards) but a lot of it got snipped away.

Space, you know. It’s mostly empty. The parts that aren’t can be sort of dangerous.

This is not a song about the crushing majesty of collisions, but the spiraling of gravity and anticipation of inevitable consequences.


Our wheels screeched off the highway
A few miles past I-4
Like jets scrambling for war

The launch window was closing
The sky as gray as stone
Our calculations shown
The margin blown to splinters

We put our fingers in the clockwork of the sky

The mission seemed successful
The interception done
Like gears around the sun

The telescopes focused
Kinetic impact made
The orbit had decayed
Our math betrayed in cinders

We put our fingers
We put our fingers
We put our fingers in the clockwork of the sky