Obscurity #1 Spaceship Orion by The Ozark Mountain Daredevils

Odd, the things you remember… early on in high school I recall being gathered with a group of students in the library in the evening- waiting for something… what it was I don’t remember. What I think I remember was that a guy named Peter (son of the local United Church minister) was spinning a few ’45s as we waited. At one point he turned one of the ’45s over to the B side (I believe it was a Donovan single… perhaps Mellow Yellow) and insisted, “Listen to this!”  Now I don’t remember what the song sounded like… I only remember that he was mightily impressed and felt that it deserved higher status than its “B side” suggested.

There’s no reason why I should recall this event and I may be faulty in my recollection of the details.  But it does make my point (for purposes of this series of posts).  And that point is that we all, from time to time, come across pieces of music (genre not important) which we like but which do not seem to achieve the popularity we would have anticipated (based upon our expert evaluation!)  And… that will be the binding element… the selections I mention in these upcoming posts caught my attention for some reason… even though they did not become “big hits”.  And I’ll try to explain why they did (catch my attention, that is).  Now we begin…

Spaceship Orion

The group, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils were hardly an unknown band in the early to mid 1970’s.  They had several successful albums and at least two “top 30” hits, most notably…

Jackie Blue reached #3 on the Billboard charts in 1975.

They were regarded as a Southern rock/country rock band but, as Jackie Blue illustrates, they were capable performers in a variety of genres… which brings me to Spaceship Orion.  Recorded on their first album (self-titled), the song has an ethereal quality which distinguishes it from many of the other tracks.  Because I was not exposed to a lot of major 7th, major 9th and minor 7th chords in the music of my early years my ear was drawn to this particular harmony when I discovered it in some popular music in my adolescence.  Perhaps an emotive quality.  I don’t know… anyway, Spaceship Orion has it.  And, although I never really listened carefully to the lyrics at the time I recognized they were not typical fodder for a pop song.

We received the album as a Christmas gift (I think) shortly after its release… in other words, it was not deliberately purchased.  And while it enjoyed a few spins at the time, I hadn’t listened to the album for several decades.  And then came the new turntable this year.  I pulled a few albums from the basement at random and the Daredevils happened to be in the pile.  I remembered the song and, after listening to it again, decided it would be an ideal first candidate in this series.  So here it is… from my turntable to your ears…

The OMD circa 1975.

The OMD circa 1975.

Oh yes,  and the lyrics…

When the man comes to you

Tells you what you always knew was  comin’

You feel it came twice as fast

You always thought the world would last way past you

But  now you find

There’s nothin’ left  around you

Spaceship Orion’s  there

Waiting to part the air above  you

Waiting to take you

Waiting to place you

In a world exactly different

From  the one you leave behind

If you  find it man you’re lucky

But it  still won’t be the same

It can’t be  like home

It can’t feel like  home

To you there

It can’t be like home

It can’t feel like home

To  you there

It can’t be like  home

It can’t feel like home

To you there.

As I suggested earlier, finding your planet uninhabitable and departing for a new destination in the galaxy is not usual fare for a pop song (or even a country song, for that matter!)

In this age of ubiquitous media (is anything truly obscure?) I could have simply referred to the recording, which is (like almost everything) to be found on Youtube.  What I did discover, however, is that the band still performs live periodically and includes this song in their set.  Evidence of this fact

p.s.  If you don’t know the band at all, you might be forgiven for thinking that these examples (Jackie Blue, Spaceship Orion) don’t sound very country rock.  Their other significant hit, If You Wanna Get to Heaven, may go some distance in correcting that impression.  It is to be found with Spaceship Orion on their first album and it reached #25 in 1974.  (You might take issue with the theology here… but that’s another discussion!)