Sunday, December 27, 2009
The first song broadcast live from space (at least in an Earth-centric sense) was "Jingle Bells", sung by astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra on December 16, 1965 from the Gemini 6 space module. With harmonica accompaniment, no less.
It was written by James Lord Pierpont and originally published as "One Horse Open Sleigh" on September 16, 1857. Despite being universally identified with the Christmas holiday, it is not specifically about Christmas at all.
None of Pierpont's other songs (which include "Ring the Bell, Fanny", "The Know Nothing Polka", "Oh! Let Me Not Neglected Die!", "The Colored Coquette", "Wait, Lady, Wait", "Poor Elsie", "The Returned Californian", "Our Battle Flag") ever amounted to much. However, The Sons of the Pioneers recorded his song "Gentle Nettie Moore" in 1934, which in turn inspired Bob Dylan to cover their cover.