SFF Song of the Week: Stuart Angell McGregor

It’s a busy week this week on Debatable Spaces…further down the page, the great Basterds debate still rages…and tomorrow we have a guest blog from screenwriter and co-founder of the Red Planet Prize, Danny Stack. And today:

It’s this! A delightful, fall-around-on-the-floor laughing song choice from Stuart Angell McGregor, screenwriter and blogger, who is a regular contributor to this site’s TV and Movie and Book Zones. (Look out for his marvellous analysis of The X-Files, a wonderfully comprehensive and witty account of the classic show.)

Stuart Angell McGregor writes:

Years after Laika – the perky and bright-eyed soviet space dog -  barked his last and burned up a hero in earth’s atmosphere, Gerry Anderson created Fireball XL5, a children’s show in which goggle-eyed space puppet Colonel Steve Zodiac patrolled the stars in the eponymous super rocket.

XL5 was a fun, wobbly-stringed, space western with only one really exceptional element to call its own: ‘Fireball’, the theme that swung proudly over the show’s closing credits. Fireball wasn’t so much crooned, more sensually exuded from the pores of chocolate-voiced Australian Don Spencer.

XL5 began in ’62, and ended a year later, the exact time that American astronauts Alan Sheppard and ol’ John Glenn were freewheeling, for the first time, way up there, in machines held together with little more than pure hope and bubblegum.

And, ultimately, that’s what holds Spencer’s Fireball together, too – not that cool retro sound you can imagine spooling easy and smooth from the glossy speakers of some Kubrickian space station – but hope, the dreams of small men wanting to touch, wanting to be, something far bigger.

When I was a mere slip of a thing, my Dad would sing me to sleep with his own garbled and half-remembered version of this song. And though he could never quite carry the tune far enough, and forever fiddled with the tips of his cigarette yellow fingers, that glorious and hopeful chorus always managed to come out just right.

‘My heart would be a fireball
A fireball
Every time I gaze into your
Starry eyes’

Amazing, no?

Now, there’s nothing left to do but pass the space martins, and dance.

I wish I was a spaceman,
the fastest guy alive
I’d fly you ‘round the universe.
In Fireball XL5.
Way out in space together.
Conquerors of the sky.
My heart would be a fireball.
A fireball.
Every time I gaze into your starry eyes.

We’d take a path to Jupiter and maybe very soon.
We’d cruise along the Milky Way and land upon the Moon.
To a wonderland of stardust.
We’ll zoom our way to mars.
My heart would be a fireball.
A fireball.
And you would be my Venus of the stars.

But though I’m not a spaceman
Famous and renowned
I’m just a guy that’s down to earth
With both feet on the ground
It’s all imagination
I’ll never reach the stars
My heart is still a fireball
A fireball
Every time I gaze into your starry eyes

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