300 Songs: Nostalgia from David Lowery


Nostalgia- A Cosmonaut Orbits the Earth While the USSR Breaks Apart.

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on July 16, 2010 by davidclowery

Track 6 from Cracker’s 1993 album Keronsene Hat. Here is the story in the song. A cosmonaut Ivan Ivanovich is orbiting the earth in the Mir space station. While in orbit the USSR
breaks apart into all of it’s constituent nations. Ivanovich is stranded while the ground crew struggles to send a replacement ship and cosmonaut up to relieve him. Ivanovich is not in mortal danger. Mostly he is bored. He finds a book left behind by another cosmonaut. It is an history of the American Civil War. He reads it over and over again while waiting for his rescue ship. Hence his musings about General Stonewall Jackson’s amputated arm being “buried on some farm”
The first thing you should know about this song is that it is complete fiction. This may surprise some of you because there is a persistent urban myth that the Soviets stranded a cosmonaut in space when the USSR dissolved. In fact there are at least two* films with this exact plot. (This Cracker song predates both of these films, it
was written in october of 1992). I’m not sure what came first the films or the urban legend of the stranded cosmonaut. But one thing is well known there have long been myths of “lost” or “phantom cosmonauts” going back to the early 1960′s. It is these persistent rumors that inspired this song. here are two webpages detailing such myths:
Finally Ivan Ivanovich is like John Doe in English. Hence Ivan Ivanovich is the name given to a test flight dummy cosmonaut pictured
PS. Stonewall Jackson’s arm was buried separately from his body. His arm was amputated due to his injuries. He died many days later in
Richmond VA. *There appears to be two movies. one called “kosmonaut” from norway. and one called “der letzte Kosmonaut” from germany. both have similar plot descriptions. perhaps they are the same source. or german release of the same film. One is from 1993 the other from 1994.
And here is Ivanovich
in his rocket ship
Spinning helplessly
up above the earth
While his heart is splintered
All the girls of winter
are buried in their coats anonymous
While winter girls are waiting
Ivanovich in high rotation
He is just another star
up in the sky
While the world was waiting
We’re overwhelmed by some sensation
of something long ago and far away
Like general Jackson’s arm
it’s buried on some farm
While the fever
pushes words from his lips
And by the drunken river
where the soldiers shiver
We rest beneath the shade of the trees.
While winter girls are saying
each of us a tiny nation
You’re just another star
but so am I.
While the world was waiting
We’re overwhelmed by some sensation
of something long ago and far away

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