03 August 2012

Canyons of Mars - the Kitchen Table Version

Just recorded this on the phone in the kitchen tonight, for those of you who like your music raw, uncut, slightly out of time and key - EXACTLY as it would be if you were on Earth and I was hammering it out on whatever old guitar they let me take to Mars. Except the kitchen may be smaller.

"Canyons of Mars" (C) Shane McKee, 2012. (minor lyric updates 2013)

We work the red ground here - I can't call it earth;
This isn't the soil of the land of my birth.
"We can't bring you back," they said, leaving no doubt we were true pioneers.
In this desolate landscape we're staking our plot,
But dreams still return me to one pale blue dot
Lost in the heavens, whispering echoes of triumph and tears.

But all we can do is step forwards each day,
Because entropy's journey is only one way
From the footprints they left in the Turkana clay,
Walking under the stars I can see from the canyons of Mars.

The next ship from Earth will bring four new recruits -
We'll fit them with visors and helmets and boots,
And we'll set them to work on reactors and rovers and solar arrays.
They'll join the endeavour and never return
To the places and people they loved, and they'll learn
To adjust to their destiny,
Factor it over the course of their days

But all the psychologists can't tell me yet
If it's best to remember or try to forget
How we stood there in Belfast when the sun had long set,
Gazing out at the stars I now see from the canyons of Mars.

Now Sarah and Ravi have just had their kid;
You followed the pregnancy - the whole of Earth did,
Through broadcast and podcast and media storm -
She's the first of her breed.
We're extending the habitat under the ground,
We'll fill it with air and with colour and sound;
And we'll love them and feed them and keep them all warm -
Is that all that they'll need?

Because her generation's the next link in a chain
Stretching out from a planet of forests and rain,
And the one point of reference that can help us explain
Is: we saw those same stars they can see from the canyons of Mars.

But the frail force of gravity won't hold them here
As they look to the heavens with no trace of fear.
And we'll watch them lift off, and then disappear,
As they carry our dreams to the stars from the canyons of Mars.


  1. I've left footprints in the Turkana clay and viewed the stars from Belfast but I haven't been to Mars yet

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