It’s an unwritten rule of nature: we humans are never satisfied with what we have. We have the unfortunate tendency to think that the grass is greener on the other side. We start wars to expand our territory. After having realised our dream to soar through the air like a bird, we had to go further asking ourselves difficult, almost impossible questions. For example: is there life on Mars? David Bowie wondered about this at the beginning of his career. His song “Space Oddity” became a cult hit when it accompanied the first human steps onto the Moon. Our satellite was certainly a more accessible prospect than Mars, and marked the first step in humankind’s proud struggle to conquer space.
Fifty years after “Life on Mars?” a robot was sent to the Red Planet to provide us with answers. Would it be necessary to send armies to fight those fantasy creatures that have often been found between the pages of science fiction – the Martians? It is easy to see how this pop epic was inspired by these mysterious, dangerous journeys, and how they in turn inspire questions about our own lives. Are we really adventurers? Or are we just trying to escape from our own existential problems?
While we wait for answers about this mysterious planet, humanity would be well advised to learn more about the beauty and fragility we have closer to home. And what better month than March to awaken our senses to nature? It’s that time of year when winter fades away in favour of spring, when birds chirp, when light gushes forth, when the flowers burst into new life. It’s time to start planting! March marked the beginning of the year in the Roman calendar, a period which also coincided with the resumption of their warlike activity. The month was named in honour of Mars, the god of war, the all-powerful son of the masters of the universe Jupiter and Juno. Mars was the god of youth – and therefore those sent off to battle.
Lively imaginings of the Red Planet have fed many lyrical rock and pop songs. Electronic music – from techno to ambient – has made more ethereal voyages to Mars, where enchantment is born from the discovery of the unknown. While songwriting and the world of rap have their feet more firmly on the ground, they too have found inspiration in March and in Mars. It is also a month that is particularly close to my heart as it’s my birth month!