SFF Song of the Week: Jeff Somers

Recent visitors to the Orbit website may have read a blog by ace editor DongWon Song extolling the virtues of this site’s SFF Song of the Week slot.  There have been, I will have to concede, some wonderful song choices over the last few months from assorted eminent writers plus one film/TV producer.  To check the back catalogue, just drift your eyes across to the left, under Debatable Archives.

Today’s choice is from a writer who is a hero of mine – master of noir nastiness – creator of hitman hero Avery Cates. Yes it’s the wonderful Jeff Somers. Jeff and I have become e-buddies over the last few months; I admire him and his work hugely. And, thanks to those great guys at Orbit, Jeff and I are currently cooking up a joint venture together, which looks set fair to be a marriage made in heaven. More of that anon…

Over to you Jeff…

Jeff Somers writes:


Queen “’39”

One of my fave songs overall, and a rare folky-rock song that tells a
story. A sad, shattering story (“For my life’s still ahead, pity me.)
OMFG, it makes me weep every. time. I. hear. it.) of time dilation and
dying earth, which is my favorite type. I was actually unaware of it for
an embarrassingly long time despite being quite devoted to much of
Queen’s catalog; I came across it in a random Googling of something or
other and my life has been different ever since. I hear it’s quite a
fave for buskers to play on the streets of London, though that’s hearsay.

What I love about the song, too, is that it has a short-story
sensibility, telling the story and then hitting you with the crushing
final line – no epilogue, no repeat of the chorus, just that chilling
thud and you’re left sitting there, tears streaming down your face,
bottle of courage clutched in one hand. Er, I assume. It’s never
happened to me, of course, as I laugh in the face of danger and
soul-chilling emotionally charged songs of dark SF.

The fact that Brian May is an honest-to-god Astrophysicist just makes
this all the better.

In the year of thirty-nine
Assembled here the volunteers
In the days when lands were few
Here the ship sailed out into the blue and sunny morn
The sweetest sight ever seen
And the night followed day
And the story tellers say
That the score brave souls inside
For many a lonely day
Sailed across the milky seas
Ne’er looked back never feared never cried

Don’t you hear my call
Though you’re many years away
Don’t you hear me calling you
Write your letters in the sand
For the day I’ll take your hand
In the land that our grand-children knew

In the year of thirty-nine
Came a ship in from the blue
The volunteers came home that day
And they bring good news
Of a world so newly born
Though their hearts so heavily weigh
For the earth is old and grey
little darlin’ well away
But my love this cannot be
Oh so many years have gone
Though i’m older but a year
Your mother’s eyes from your eyes cry to me

Don’t you hear my call
Though you’re many years away
Don’t you hear me calling you
Write your letters in the sand
For the day I’ll take your hand
In the land that our grand-children knew

Don’t you hear my call
Though you’re many years away
Don’t you hear me calling you
All your letters in the sand
Cannot heal me like your hand
For my life’s still ahead, pity me.

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