Domino, Notes and videotape

Stephen Hawking’s Greatest Hits

March 15th, 2018 | Posted by elfworld in Music - (0 Comments)

Stephen HawkingStephen Hawking died yesterday. A huge loss to the world, and no matter his very human shortcomings, the world truly should pay tribute to this man. I am among those millions who bought his book “A Brief History of Time” in the early 90s. It opened my mind up on so many levels, and taught me complex concepts that I had only scratched the surface of before.

I met several of my heroes within science and last year I almost made a hat trick by meeting and interviewing both Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking at the Starmus science festival in Trondheim, Norway. However, Hawking couldn’t make it because of his declining health. And now I never will be able to meet him. But last weekend I bought a new copy of “A Brief History of Time”, because I lost my old copy, and will read it this weekend in tribute.

As the years went by, Hawking became quite the celebrity. He appeared in numerous TV shows, probably most memorably “The Simpsons” and “The Big Bang Theory”. And loads of artists made songs with or about him. I have created a playlist of 12 of my favourites of these songs:

1) “Into the Party Zone” – Turbonegro

The Norwegian hard rock band Turbonegro’s opening track to the album “Party Animals” called “Intro: The Party Zone,” features Hawking’s familiar electronic voice saying, “Greetings, my name is Stephen Hawking. Anyway, please follow our denim leaders as they enter the final black hole – a new dimension in rock music. Welcome to the party zone.” I don’t think it is Hawking’s voice, though, even if the band have always refused to confirm or deny it.

2) “Stephen Hawking Sings Monty Python… Galaxy Song” – Monty Python & Stephen Hawking

For Record Store Day in 2015, Hawking recorded a version of Monty Python’s “Galaxy Song,” originally sung by Eric Idle for 1983’s film “The Meaning of Life” (he also appeared in a short video clip featuring fellow physicist and professor Brian Cox filmed for a documentary about the British comedy stalwarts’ reunion shows the year before).

3) “E=MC Hawking” – MC Hawking

MC HawkingWhen I attended the aforementioned Starmus festival last year, they showed us a documentary about Stephen Hawking’s career as a rap artist… It was hilarious, and taken from the works of Ken Lawrence, who created the MC Hawking rap persona in the late 90s. The lyrics are side splitting, and also spoofs N.W.A (“Fuck the Creationists”). Stephen Hawking was a big fan too.

4) “A Glorious Dawn” – Carl Sagan

Ok, so it’s not really Carl Sagan who performs this track. In 2009, John D. Boswell, a.k.a. Melodysheep, a.k.a. the man behind online video series Symphony of Science, concocted a genius mind-meld between two cosmologists, Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking. The result is a “cheesy, synthesizer-strewn odyssey that sounds like Auto-Tuning the Cosmos, that could also gently lull you to sleep on dreams of Milky Ways and nebulae nurseries” as Spin Magazine described it.

5) “Keep Talking” – Pink Floyd

David Gilmour insisted that the Pink Floyd albums released under his leadership were concept albums, just like the earlier Pink Floyd albums. 1994’s “The Division Bell” was about communication. So when British Telecom did an advert featuring one of Stephen Hawking’s most powerful monologues, Gilmour thought it fit the bill for his song “Keep Talking.”

“This was the most powerful piece of television advertising that I’ve ever seen in my life,” Gilmour said soon after The Division Bell’s release. “I just found it so moving that I felt that I had to try and do something with it, or with him or something, in some way.”

6) “Hawking Radiation” – Philip Glass

The mastermind of minimalistic music created an album of the same title as the book “A Brief History of Time.” This is a short, but very nice ditty. Unfortunately this is not on Tidal, so the Tidal playlist below only has 11 tracks.

7) “Me and Stephen Hawking” – Manic Street Preachers

The once huge stadium filling band, who used to be an underground band, name checks Hawking in this nice pop track.

8) “Hawking” – Todd Rundgren

Todd is a strange one. Part jazz, part prog, part rock, part pop and part psychedlia. Not only on one and the same album, but preferrably in one and the same song! This one however is dangerously close to lounge jazz.

9) “Da Vinci” – Weezer

Don’t remember what happened to this band, but mentioning Da Vinci and and Hawking in one and the same song just feels right.

10) “White & Nerdy” – Weird Al Yankowic

Come to think of it, I saw Yankowic in Trondheim as well. Oh well, this is a parody of a hiphop song I’ve never heard. But the lyrics are hilarious and the video is awesome too.

11) “Chronologie Part 4” – Jean-Michel Jarre

Jean-Michel Jarre and Neil deGrasse TysonWhen the French electronica hero created an album about time, called Chronologie, in 1993, he name checked Stephen Hawking and thanked him for his book “A Brief History of Time,” in the liner notes. The book was a huge source of inspiration for Jarre when he worked on this album.

Last year when I was in Trondheim Jean-Michel Jarre received “The Stephen Hawking Award,” together with Neil deGrasse Tyson and the producers of the TV Show “The Big Bang Theory.”

12) “Talkin’ Hawkin'” – Pink Floyd

Hawking pops up again on the very last Pink Floyd album, “The Endless River.” I think this is a beautiful track, and a nice closer to this playlist.

What did you think of this list? Should I create other lists? Leave your comments below.



Universal Music is probably the biggest music company in the world. They have a among the world’s most famous artists in their roster, and they have for the past two decades swallowed up most of the competition. You would think a record company like this would be good at their raison d’etre: Namely selling records. Sadly, they are not.

Universal Music logo

Universal Music can’t sell music

I’m a huge fan of Mike Oldfield, and a few years back Universal announced that they would over the next years be releasing remastered versions of Oldfield’s back catalogue. In addition to great releases with 5.1 surround mixes, new stereo mixes, alternative versions and rare tracks, they would also release the albums on vinyl. And that’s not all: They would also release numbered limited edition packages that would include LPs, CDs, DVDs, books and other goodies. They would also be numbered and autographed by Mike Oldfield.

So when the Tubular Bells package was announced I ordered it from Universal Music’s own web store. I got confirmation that I would be among the 500 who would receive the limited edition package. Great? Not so much. After several cock ups, Universal ended up having to send out a whole bunch of “limited edition” packages that were not numbered. They also managed to inflict damage to a lot of the vinyl records shipped, and had to do returns.

The following year it was time for Hergest Ridge and my favourite album of all time, Ommadawn to have a release like this. And Universal did it again. First of all several of us got the albums several months after the promised delivery date. People also got the wrong vinyls and the several of the CDs had bad sound quality. Many Oldfield fans reported that they didn’t even receive their orders. But at least this time they didn’t screw up the numbering of the limited editions.

When it came time for Incantations to be released I thought “to hell with Universal” and I ordered the vinyls from and CD/DVD editions from, despite the fact that Universal claimed these were sold exclusively from their online store. And lo and behold, the records arrived, unharmed and in a very short time. So when Platinum and QE2 was released on coloured vinyl and CD/DVD I ordered those from as well.

After Mike Oldfield’s triumphant performance at the opening of the Olympics in London, a very limited edition 12″ with blue and pink vinyl was released. I gave Universal another chance and ordered it from their store, and everything arrived just fine. Hurrah! So when it was announced that Crises would be released in a five disc box and on green transparent vinyl and Five Miles Out would be released on yellow transparent vinyl and in a CD/DVD-box I once again ordered them from Universal’s shop. Huge mistake.

First I received the LPs without any hitch. I then started to wonder where the DVD-box and FMO CD was. So I emailed them and asked. Here’s the answer:

Crises Box Set

The Crises CD & DVD box set

“After speaking to our delivery company, DPD, I have been advised that your shipment which included the ‘Mike Oldfield / Crises CD & DVD Box Set 2013’ and the ‘Mike Oldfield / Five Miles Out Deluxe Edition CD 2013’ has been sent minus its invoice and as a result, was returned to us.

Hogne, please allow me to take this opportunity to apologise profusely for the inconvenience this will cause.

Moving forward, I am happy to confirm that at the time of writing, the ‘Mike Oldfield / Five Miles Out Deluxe Edition CD 2013’ is available and you now have the option to proceed with a free replacement or a complete refund of this item. In addition, I have been assured by our warehouse that this issue will not be repeated.

The ‘Mike Oldfield / Crises CD & DVD Box Set 2013’ is now out of stock and the parcel that was sent to you has since been damaged in transit and is now unsellable and so a refund of £60.98 will be credited back to you as a matter of urgency within the next 1-2 working days.”

I sent them an all over not too polite reply telling them to refund FMO as well, and that they shouldn’t bother with any replacement as I from now on would take my business elsewhere. And to add insult to injury I managed to find the CD & DVD box sets, once again, on Despite the fact that the very same record company who released them said that this was not possible…

But the story doesn’t end there. Oh, no. You see, you have to pay taxes when ordering from abroad.

Long story shot: Three weeks later and was still fighting with Universal, and DHL. Universal did reimburse the money for Five Miles Out and Crises boxes, but then a letter from DHL arrived asking me to pay toll and sales taxes for both the LPs AND the items I never received. Here’s a copy of an email I sent Universal after being the middle man between DHL and them for over two weeks:

“I’ve now been emailing between Universal Music’s support and DHL for over 2 weeks. I’ve calculated that I’ve spent in total an entire work day on communications with both parties. And I’ve had it.

Not only does Universal Music mess up my order and then tell me that they can’t deliver my whole order because it’s out of stock (a bit strange since I’ve since ordered this item elsewhere). Then I’m billed by DHL for taxes and VAT for items I’ve never received from you.

This is what has happened:
– The second package I received from you only included only the Five Miles Out LP
– The package was also supposed to contain the Five Miles Out CD box and the Crises DVD box
– For some reason these two items were not in the package
– It seems that these two items had been sent in a separate package by DPD (which Universal have confirmed in my previous correspondence with them)
– However, the freight letter with the original shipment claimed that the missing items were inside that box, and their value was stated in the freight letter
– Because of this, DHL paid the Norwegian toll authorities the VAT for that value
– DHL cannot be reimbursed from the authorities for this and therefore demand that I pay them by October 7th

DHL is not at fault here. They have to trust the freight papers that you send and have just simply done their job. They are not at liberty to open all packages to check that the sender has indeed packed what’s stated in the freight documents  As I said above, I’m now sick and tired of this case, and Universal Music (check out my history with you and you will find it’s a history of mistakes in the years I’ve been shopping with you)

I therefore demand that YOU pay me the amount I have to pay DHL. The time you’ve spent communicating with me must surely has cost you more than this amount already.

This is your mistake, not mine and certainly not DHL’s. But I’m the one sitting without the items I originally ordered, and being stuck with the bill. All the while being told by Universal that I should just refuse to pay DHL. This is appallingly bad customer service.

Please step up and fix this by Monday afternoon! DHL sent the a copy of the freight document, where you can clearly see that it’s stated that the original package included the items I never received. I’ve included them here in this email.”

The next day a customer representative from Universal Music called me and said they would fix it, and that they would get back to me. That was six months ago.

I think the phrase I will use when talking to Universal Music the next time rhymes with “clucking bass poles.”