The social media-savvy space superstar commanded the International Space Station (ISS) in 2013, using any precious free moments during his five months’ stay to play the Canadian-made guitar that NASA psychologists had sent up there.
The result is Space Sessions: Songs From a Tin Can. Lauched Friday, it’s billed as the first “off planet” album.
In space, Hadfield says he had to re-learn how to hold the guitar due to the effects of being weightless. His voice also changed.
“Without gravity, your sinuses never drain,” Hadfield told CBC News. “So it’s like having a perpetual head cold, trying to sing.”
He also collaborated from the ISS with Barenaked Ladies on the Music Monday song I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing).
Once back on earth, Hadfield decided to share the music he wrote and recorded while in space, though he stresses that he isn’t trying to become a professional musician. Juno Award-winning producer Robbie Lackritz finished Space Sessions, adding instrumentation from notable local musicians.
The album’s 11 original songs (Space Oddity is included as a bonus track) are Hadfield’s attempt to capture his unique experience. He wants people to understand space travel, since he sees that as our future.
In the song Feet Up, Hadfield croons, “Can’t put my feet up/Can’t hold my lunch down/Turning the sound up/I start to spin round/Can’t stand on my own two feet/I just float away/I took a ride in a hot, hot seat/Now I’m ready to play far away”.
Hadfield cites some of his favourite singers – Gordon Lightfoot, Stan Rogers, Ian Tyson, Burton Cummings – as an influence on his vocals, melodies and lyrics.
“I’m not the world’s best musician, I’m not the world’s worst musician, I’m just a musician,” said Hadfield.
But what’s important for us to remember is this is “our first effort and our artistic expression of what it’s like to live on board a spaceship.”
The proceeds from sales of Space Sessions will go to music education.