Planet Claire

Album: The B-52's (1979)


  • The B-52s often look and sound like they're from another planet - their female vocalists Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson would fit right in as cast members of an Ed Wood sci-fi movie. They're not from outer space, but they are from Athens, Georgia, where many rather eccentric artists and musicians emerged, including R.E.M. On "Planet Claire" they embrace their otherworldly side, opening with various bleeps and electronic sounds as if they're trying to make contact. Kate Pierson does processed wails, but there are no words until 2:30, when Fred Schneider starts singing about a woman from Planet Claire. We don't learn much about her, but we know she drives a Plymouth Satellite, which also existed on Earth. Hers, though, travels at the speed of light.
  • This either samples or interpolates the "Peter Gunn Theme," which Henry Mancini wrote for the 1958 TV series. Mancini has a writer credit on "Planet Claire" along with every member of The B-52s.
  • A track from the first B-52s album, "Planet Claire" has been a staple of their setlists throughout their career. They played it at their very first show: a Valentine's Day party in 1979.
  • Much of the soundscape on this song was created by the band's guitarist, Ricky Wilson, who died of AIDS in 1985. The main lyricist was Fred Schneider.

    In a 2019 Songfacts interview with B-52s vocalist Cindy Wilson (Ricky's sister), she said of this track: "I loved Ricky's guitar, and Kate's wonderful kind of outer space vocal was really cool. And Fred has amazing lyrics - he can just conjure up and picture a landscape, and it was a really fun place to inhabit. Fred was a poet."
  • There's some mysticism tied up in the lyrics:

    Some say she's from Mars
    Or one of the seven stars that shine after 3:30 in the morning
    Well, she isn't!

    The time between 3 and 4 a.m. in general, and 3:30 specifically, have been identified by mystics of various traditions as spiritually potent times when the veil between our reality and other realities is at its thinnest.
  • The B-side to the single was a cover of Petula Clark's "Downtown."

Comments: 3

  • Claire Wilson from Tampa, FloridaIdk I’m just looking at this because my name is Claire
  • Jimr0y from Plymouth One of the Planet Claire videos was filmed on Plymouth Hoe, Devon UK

    Just realised :D
  • Philippe Decamier from Atlanta GaThere is so many levels of interpretation with the lyrics of “planet Claire”
    It is an other reason why it reaches to one of the highest
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Top American Idol Moments: Songs And ScandalsSong Writing

Surprise exits, a catfight and some very memorable performances make our list of the most memorable Idol moments.

Waiting For The Break of Day: Three Classic Songs About All-NightersSong Writing

These Three famous songs actually describe how they were written - late into the evening.

Macabre Mother Goose: The Dark Side of Children's SongsSong Writing

"London Bridge," "Ring Around the Rosie" and "It's Raining, It's Pouring" are just a few examples of shockingly morbid children's songs.

Max Cavalera of Soulfly (ex-Sepultura)Songwriter Interviews

The Brazilian rocker sees pictures in his riffs. When he came up with one of his gnarliest songs, there was a riot going on.

Glen BurtnikSongwriter Interviews

On Glen's résumé: hit songwriter, Facebook dominator, and member of Styx.

Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica)Songwriter Interviews

The former Metallica bassist talks about his first time writing a song with James Hetfield, and how a hand-me-down iPad has changed his songwriting.