Voices of the Sky: Historic Sound Recordings

Cube life got you down? Download Voices of the Sky from Smithsonian Folkways

Voices of the Sky

Cube life got you down? Download Voices of the Sky from Smithsonian Folkways and “tighten your safety belt, locate the nearest emergency exit, study the instructions for inflating your life jacket the courage—and the wattage—to turn up the sound to runway volume.”

Besides offering terrific liner notes, this 1957 Emory Cook CD lets you eavesdrop on a seven-minute crew briefing, listen to control tower chatter, and submerge yourself in the “worldly howls of military jets.”

“The thing about Emory Cook,” says Jeff Place, an archivist with Folkways, “is that he had a giant cult following in the 1950s. Cook records were aurally interesting; he’d put out recordings of earthquakes and firecrackers and railroad trains. There’s a strong following even now.”

Once you’ve exhausted the “piston-driven airliners with their reassuring throaty roars,” head into space with Voices of the Satellites, a 1958 recording produced by Moses Ashe of Folkways. “Ashe had this whole science series he would sell to schools and universities,” says Place. “Sounds of Medicine, Sounds of Animals, that sort of stuff. These recordings exist as a sort of snapshot in time.” Travel back to the beginning of the space race with Voices of the Satellites, and you’ll hear Sputnik’s distinctive beep, the heartbeat of Laika, the dog the Soviets sent into orbit, and the roaring of Explorer and Vanguard rockets.

On Man in Space: The Story of the Journey, a Folkways recording from 1964, you can listen to Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard talking to mission control, a bit of history from the first American manned mission into space.

Smithsonian Folkways is offering 20 percent off these recordings until March 31, 2009 as a special offer to readers of The Daily Planet. Use the code “DailyPlanetSFW” when ordering.