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Joe Meek wrote “Telstar” in tribute to, and fascination with, the space age excitement of the early 1960’s. It’s simultaneously whimsical and melancholy. A lawsuit (resolved in his favor after his tragic death) prevented him from collecting royalties on the record during his life. I never knew that last part until a few years ago.
Meek had a lot of problems. He was tone-deaf and paranoid. He was gay ( a jailable offense in England at the time) and most likely manic-depressive. He was brilliant but died in a murder/suicide of his own causing. I knew none of this when I first heard “Telstar” as a child. And I hate to make necessary a connection between a persons art and a person’s life. But life informs art and knowing these things about Meek make me wonder how different “Telstar” would sound if it had been written by someone who didn’t need the hope of another world; someone who was content here on earth.
Men gazed at the stars for thousands of years before Meek but the stars became graspable during Meek’s life. It was with this hope that Meek wrote “Telstar” which makes it as much a love song as anything else.