Astronomy

Album: Secret Treaties (1974)
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  • Sometimes rumored to be about a girl's first lesbian encounter, the lyrics to "Astronomy" were written by the group's producer: the former music journalist Sandy Pearlman.

    Secret Treaties began as a concept album based on the character Desdanova, who appears in "Astronomy." You can spend a lot of time with headphones on trying to figure out what's going on in this song, but Pearlman explained it when he spoke with NME in 1975. We should point out that the British press loved the Secret Treaties album, giving it great reviews, but attempts to interview the band during this period were dominated by Pearlman, who did most of the talking, often to the bewilderment of the journalists.

    Anyway, here's what he said about the song: "It's New Year's Eve and Desdanova walks into the Four Winds Bar (which was a real place - an actual joint on Atlantic Beach). He plays this game with two girls which has to be completed in the six hours from midnight to dawn 'cause he can't stand the light. It's so sort of... corrosive. There's a parallel with the rose which is similarly over-fulfilled, a symbol of over-ripeness and decadence. The dog is Susy's familiar and the carrier of starry wisdom from the actual dogstar. Lovecraft had this term 'starry wisdom cult' which was so apt I had to use it."
  • The music was written by the group's brothers, drummer Albert and bass player Joe Bouchard. Eric Bloom did the lead vocals.
  • Blue Öyster Cult recorded a new version of "Astronomy" for their 1988 concept album Imaginos, which was based on Pearlman's poem "The Soft Doctrines Of Imaginos." The concept is that Imaginos is born in 1804 and given superhuman powers. He can take on various identities and time travel, and he plays a part in events leading up to World War I where the story ends.

    This version of the song contains a spoken intro by the author Stephen King, who explains the Imaginos concept. This version was made into a video as well.
  • A video was made for this song, but the band doesn't appear in it. Directed by Daryl Maxwell, it features a castle, a prisoner, and some apparitions. Like their songs, BÖC videos were often rather cryptic.
  • Metallica recorded the song for their 1998 album Garage Inc.
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Comments: 40

  • Sam from GermanyI once commented about the meaning of the song in you-tube, pretending that the star refers to planet earth where star singers sing. lately, it happened that i lived the story of the song to the point. i shared it with Susie, she's now on a beach. you can find me on facebook:fx rodeo.
  • Al from Las VegasP.S.
    A lot of killer information I didn't know about BOC and the entity it was at that time.
    A renewed appreciation of an awesome band.
  • Al from Las VegasFirst off, it's awesome to witness a decent discussion with some relevence and substance to it instead of half this s--t you see all day long.
    Anyways, the first time I "heard" this jam was with Metallica. But as I listened I knew I've heard it before. This was before you could easily look a song up on your computer. So I just knew that version I thought. When I finally went to a record store and asked someone which album it was off of and found the CD I heard it all over again and knew I heard it long ago. Come to find out my moms boyfriend at sometime when I was a kid used to blast that album all the time. "That was my favorite tune", he said. "I wore that record out, kid." So among other greats tunes I sublimly and subconsciously played in the back yard to when I was young, that one is awesome !!!
    On another note my band plays this tune and we use the best parts of both versions. We got a guy on keys that jams and we use some serious distortion to make it loud and powerful. Got a great vocalist too.
    Hard jam to learn but worth it when its played right.
    Cheers !!!
  • Tom from Pinellas Park, FlI was already a huge fan of BOC when I was stationed aboard the USS Nimitz around 1975 or early 76 when I woke up in the middle of the night by chance and heard this song playing on the ship's radio. I wasn't sure what the lyrics meant, but it left me with the most melancholy feeling I have ever experienced. Every time I hear this song it takes me back to that time/place/feeling.
  • Benjamin from Louisville, KyJoe Bouchard, who wrote Imaginos, explains the concept on his Website.
  • Brad from Las Vegas, NvAs with much of BOC, having read up on late nineteenth and early twentieth century occultism helps in lyric interpretation. The light that never warms is a Luciferan reference and in the context of the Imaginos setting likely a reference to the dark lords being served. I'd always assumed that Desdinova had in some way darkly influenced the girls, perhaps corrupted, snatched souls or even killed them. In effect a story of innocent exploration gone horribly dark and wrong - the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Gladys from Chicago, IlI never heard the 1974 version of this song, but the 1988 version, which I taped off the radio, got played so much that the tape wore through and snapped. Now, of course, I want to go look up the lyrics and wallow in forgotten imagery. "Blue Oyster WHO?" said my college roommate, and "Isn't it quiet hours YET?" :::sigh::: Her loss...One of the most evocative, magical songs out there. Oh, and Metallica? Needs to EABODAD.
  • Ross from Brooklyn, NyAll hail Buck Dharma, BOC, and this majestic (and like all their best work, lyrically inscrutable) track. Mystical and heartfelt, it may contain my favorite Buck solos (saying A LOT!) -- both studio and live.

    Perhaps the most misunderstood and underappreciated band -- but not by those who know.....
  • Garry from Novosibirsk, Russia FederationDon't scold Metallica too hard guys! All their set of covers is great. They add power and energy to the staff they cover, I think they reveal the hidden potential of the songs they cover to full extent. Some just like the original and some like the cover. As for me I like both! Hell of a great song this is, but I don't really understand what this song is about. Probably one should interpret this in a context of the album. Or maybe one should learn English better )
  • Andreas from Skellefteå, SwedenI was wondering, is there anywere you could get the full story of the "Imaginos" album?
  • James from Twin Falls, Idaho, IdThe four winds bar is in arco idaho. Home of nuclear power, the first nuclear reactor, and the first nuclear accident. now the sands become a crust, creative songwriting at its best...
  • Jd from Fairfield, OhCan't believe that Buck's not in the Greatest Guitarist lists... at least I know that he rocks.
  • Lester from New York City, NyBuck Dharma, one of the best, and most under-appreciated guitar players ever to pick up an axe. BLUE OYSTER CULT STILL RULES, except for their occasional bouts with arthritis.
  • Anonymous"And don't forget my dog, fixed and consequent", a reference to the "Dog Star", a fixed star used as a navigational guide by early sailors.

  • Rhodesy from Truro, Englandagree with vagelis. this has been an on and off obsession of mine since i was 16. why is this song so evocative that it causes all of us to spend our precious time posting stuff about it? i think that may be the characteristic of a true classic? n'est ce pas?
  • 5cats from Winnipeg, MbMetallica's version sounds like the band is half-asleep, geez!
    This is the tune that first got me to notice just how good BOC really is. Slow or fast it's got terrific lyrics and guitar riffs.
    I just love it! "Four Winds Bar" is a fantastic image "two doors locked... one door left to take you in, the other one just mirrors it" To have recurring themes inside a rock & roll song is just amazing! Wind, the number four, mirrors, that's really great songwriting.
    There's 4 charecters named in the song, Susie dear, Carrie nurse, Desdinova and his dog "Vixin consequent" (not official I know, but that's what I hear, Vixin, which is a female fox, but can refer to dogs too, eh?).
    I could go on and on, but true BOC fans know all this already, lolz!
  • Alex from Federal Way, WaUhhh....Marie...the lyrics go:
    "Call me desdinova,
    Eternal light!
    These gravely digs of mine,
    Will surely prove a sight!
    And dont forget my dog,
    Fixed and consequent!"

    And digs has to do with a dwelling or a house, not clothes. It's a phrase from the late 60's to mid 70's. However, I'm having as a hard a time as you are grasping the whole lesbian encounter thing.

    For those who appreciate the complexity and profound depth depicted in the music of this song, I totally agree! This is the best of BOC. For those who believe a cover is better, I have learned long ago that you can't argue with crazy people.
  • Vagelis from Athens, --I agree with daniel...
  • Vagelis from Athens, --I don't know if this song is about lesbian encounters, but it's magical!!!It makes you feel like you're in a dream and you just forget everything while listening to it...
  • Daryl from Stoke, MidlandsShame metallica are wank
  • Lester from New York City, NySorry, cut off. BOC played for about 80 minutes, didn't do 'Astronomy' or "Dominance and Submission', but they did do incredible versions of "The Last Days in May" and "Harvest Moon".
  • Lester from New York City, NyJust saw BOC in St. Louis on Memorial Day, 2007. They
  • Brutus from Wynyard, Australiaveteran of the pyschic wars is my life story
  • Derek from Monroe, CtScrew Metallica, their entire existence after 1988 sucked. BOC's Astronomy has a captivating melody and mood that nearly brings a tear to the eye. I went to a Blue Oyster Cult concert last year hoping like hell to hear Astronomy and Joan Crawford. They played Joan Crawford...but what really hurt was not hearing Astronomy. I love it more than Dont Fear the Reaper, Godzilla, Burnin for You, and Joan Crawford all put together.
    So yeah, as for the Imaginos project, that would make a cool movie, they should totally do that.
  • Rhodesy from Truro, Englandmetallica is a good version that brings a new feel to this song but for me it lacks the subtleties and nuance inherent in the understated boc performance. this seems to evoke a feeling of lurking dread which has had me hooked on the live version for years.
  • Elijah from Colton, CaAh, Astronomy. One of BOCs greatist. This site doesn't have all of Imaginos here, so I'll give a synopsis.

    Imaginos was BOCs first, best, and only "Rock Opera". It chronicles the story of a young man who is contacted by mysterious spirits/gods from another dimension. These beings guide him through his life, granting him superhuman powers, and visions of a parallel world. These powers may include immortality and the ability to travel through time. Once this young man, who calls himself "Imaginos" is grown, he becomes captain of a ship under the false name "Del Rio". His ship, the Plutonia, asils to Mexico, where Imaginos/Del Rio stumbles upon an Aztec/Maya temple. There he finds a mirror of bosidian. This is the "True Germ", the "Perfect Black", with which the invisible gods will wreak havoc on the world. It is during the voyage home that Imaginos is shipwrecked, and drowns. There, in the cold bosom of death, the Invisible Gods call to him and offer him an ultimatum: Either he can reject them and die, or aid them in their macabre plans and become an immortal demigod. He chooses the latter. The mirror finds it's way into the hands of Dr. John Dee, the Royal Astrologer, who uses it to converse with spirits. After some time, Imaginos, who has taken the new name of Desdinova, recovers the mirror. He then hides it in his attic, where it germinates an evil psychic energy leading to World War One.

    There's a great many details I lack time and space to mention. The album "Secret Treaties" is a companion/prequel to Imaginos, and contains some interesting insight.
  • Rob from Vancouver, Canada"Some Enchanted Evening" was one of the soundtracks of my youth. I had that on one side of a cassette and "Houses of the Holy" on the other side. That cassette outlasted 4 or 5 cars.
  • Daniel from Cincinnatti, OrBlue Oyster Cult is underrated.
  • Jaimy from Eden, NyI really like this song, but I must say that im my own opinion the Metallica cover impresses me more. Mabye its just James' voice that sets the mood of the song better.
  • Congo from Pittsburgh, Paforget metallica--this song is by blue oyster cult, and you chuckleheads should keep your comments limited to those pertaining to the BOC version...who cares if metallica covered it..
    i played whiplash once so now i can post a note on the metallica comments saying --congo covered this song once....duh!
  • Kevin from Jacksonville , FlBlue Oysters Ballad "I love the night" still sends shivers down my spine! It is the baddest song for the old lady and I to "get our freak on" that we have ever "got our freak on" to!

    "CREATURE" St. Augustine Fl
  • Jim from St. Paul, Mn'Metallica version is better??' Oh, please! Post that on a Metallica web page if you believe that. Have you ever heard Blue Oyster Cult play Astronomy in concert? It is beyond description it is so captivating. Eric's voice is the one and only for this song. And Buck Dharma's guitar solo in this song is beauty and lightning. No great rock guitar player would say anything less if they witnessed it themselves. Astronomy is a beautiful rock anthem on the most awesome hard rock album of all times, Secret Treaties. Most will never know. Blue Oyster Cult reigns supreme. There may be other rock bands who may be as great, but none better. Felix Granal, Paris
  • Evileye_8@msn.com from Perth, Australiathe metallica version is alot better
  • Marie from Oceanside, CaI don't know if i agree with Astronomy being about a lesbian encounter.............the lyrics lead more towards a type of hell or apocalypse of some sortor a type of change of events of some sort, and like when it says, "THEN CAME ME,THESE GRAVELY DIGS(meaning clothing) OF MINE WILL SURELY PROVE A SIGHT, I'M THINKING THATS THE DEVIL MAYBE WITH HIS DOG. LIGHT THAT NEVER WARMS(THE MOON). AND LIKE HELL THE FOUR WINDS BAR LETS YOU IN BUT DOSEN'T LET YOU OUT. THINK ABOUT IT!!
  • Anonymous from Electric LadylandYou have the date wrong. True, it was from Imaginos in 88, but it was originally on "Secret Treaties" from 74
  • Steve from Pueblo, CoCheck out live version on "Some Enchanted Evening" album/disc release date 1977-1979. Sweet guitar solo from Buck Dharma. One of my all time favs.
  • Mike from Akron, OhThis Song Is My Favorite Rock Song,It Is One Of Their Best Songs Prior To (Dont Fear)The Reaper.
  • Chris from Wayne, PaTHe song was released by Blue Ã?yster Cult in 1974 on Secret Treaties originally. It was a taken from a concept album that was talked about and released again in a redone version. 1988 when the concept album was finally finished.
  • Nick from Paramus, NjIt wasn't "Garage Days Revisited" is was on the first Disc of their "Garage Inc." 1998 cover album, although songs from "Garage Days" were included on the second disc of the album.
  • Nora from Richfield, MnMetallica did a good cover of this song on their 'Garage Dsys REvisited' cover album.
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