Tuesday, July 04, 2017

I Can Name That Eclipse in Five Notes

Total solar eclipses have always captivated our attention. They have even made their way into our music. See how many of these songs you recognize.

March 7, 1970 total solar eclipse. Image Credit: NSO/AURA/NSF

You’re So Vain, composed and performed by Carly Simon

. . . you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see a total eclipse of the sun

This is the only known recorded song with lyrics that mention a specific eclipse. But which one? The recording was released November 1972. And Nova Scotia had recently experienced two total solar eclipses, one on March 7, 1970 and another on July 10, 1972. Simon has reported that she wrote the song in 1971. If Simon was reflecting on recent events, then she probably meant the total solar eclipse of March 7, 1970.

Eclipse, by Pink Floyd from ‘Dark side of the Moon’

… and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

Total Eclipse of the Heart, sung by  Bonnie Tyler.

…Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there's only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart…

If we go farther back in time, we come across a smattering of sheet music published in the 1800s and early-1900s.

The Total Eclipse Gallop, composed by E. Mack and published in 1919 by Lee & Walker. This song commemorates the August 7, 1869 total solar eclipse, which was visible across the continental United States.

Eclipse, composed by Herman Darewski (1883-1947) was published in 1919.

Other memorable dance tunes that are now long forgotten include:

Eclipse March, 1899 published by Troedel & Co., National Library of Australia.

Eclipse Polka,  by Giuseppe Bistolfi. Published by Kansas City, MO: J.W. Jenkins Son, 1889. University of Missouri, Kansas City Sheet Music Collection

Eclipse Polka, 1853, Published by Wm. Vanderbeek and Son,

Eclipse Waltz, 1854, W. C. Peters and Sons

Eclipse Polka, 1874, Lee & Walker

Eclipse Quickstep, 1885, Richards, J. G

Eclipse Gallop, 1885, Spear & Dehnhoff

Eclipse Schottische, 1884, Stewart, S. S.

For more information on the August 21 total eclipse, and eclipses in general, visit:


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