Circumstantial flummery from a would-be spoonbean hustler.

Bob Dylan and Aliens of Beta Orionis Zeta

by N.C. Jones


In July of 1969 rock and roll musician Bob Dylan released a 7-inch single called “Lay, Lady, Lay” on Columbia records. It was a smooth jam and peaked at #7 on the American popular music charts.

Previously, Dylan had offered the song to the Everly Brothers backstage at a music venue named the Bottom Line in New York City. Phil Everly asked Dylan if he had any new songs that they might record, and answering yes, Dylan picked up a guitar and proceeded to sing the song so quietly that the Everlys thought they heard Dylan sing “Lay lady lay, lay across my big breasts, babe.” Thinking it was a song about lesbians, Don Everly declined the song, saying “Thank you, it’s a great song, but I don’t think we could get away with that.” At the time, Dylan did not question them about it and went on to record the track himself. Months later, they heard Dylan’s version on the radio and realized they’d misunderstood the words.

That same summer Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, formerly of the United States Air Force and subsequently of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was in orbit around the Moon. Nearly 119 miles below, his Apollo mission companions Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were traipsing around the lunar surface planting flags and adding to their rock collections. To keep himself entertained (and sane) during the 48 minutes of every orbit that he was out of contact with Earth, Collins patched his tape recorder through the speakers of the Command Module.

This was accomplished by wiring a small personal tape cassette recorder into the rather complex control panels of the Apollo Command Module — a task that turns out to be less straightforward than one might think. Even with carefully shielded components and proper soldering there’s bound to be measurable signal interference. So, while Collins managed to pump the dulcet tones of Bob Dylan into every nook and cranny of his cramped home of 23 days, he also managed to short the connection to the superstructure of his spacecraft and broadcast the sleepy tune through a small sliver of the Super high frequency radio band.

Ostensibly, this caught the attention of two beings from Beta Orionis Zeta who were passing by on their way to an intergalactic kegger in the vicinity of the Fornax Cluster. Carefully tuning their highly sensitive equipment, the Rigellians were able to isolate the warbling of Bob Dylan’s wispy tenor.

“What the fuck is a brass bed?” asked one to his companion.

The other replied, “What the fuck is a lady?”