Music Throwback Saturday: Lonely People

“It was the channel five sign-off, featuring NASA Apollo Eleven astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin bouncing about on the moon.”

lonelypeopleWhile I was in Charlotte, NC in early 1977, I was unemployed. I worked at the parents’ flea market several hours a week, but nothing else.

Charlotte was a TERRIBLE city to get around then if you didn’t have a car. It was what my father called a “big old country town”, growing by leaps and bounds. North Carolina law allowed a core city to annex any adjacent unincorporated territory, as long as the city provided fire, police, and water service. So parts of the city proper were virtually rural.

The bus system, such as it was, sucked, to use a word my wife hates. Everything went through the main intersection of Trade and Tryon. It was like going from Paris, France to Brussels, Belgium via London, England.

I watched television, a lot. The TV miniseries Roots was on, and I watched it all except for a half-hour we missed getting home from the flea market.

Back in those days, TV stations actually signed off the air at midnight or one a.m. They usually played the national anthem, often and overplayed one in which tape sounded distorted.

But on the cable in Charlotte, I could pick up WTTG, Metro Media channel 5, out of Washington, DC. The outro was a music video produced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and “made available in 1972 to any television station who wanted it.”

Someone on Reddit wrote: “As a boy growing up in Washington D.C. I would purposefully stay awake for the sign-off on which occurred at midnight every night. If I stayed up late I could escape hopelessness late at night by watching what was for me a lullaby of hope and peace possible.

“It was the channel five sign-off, featuring NASA Apollo Eleven astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin bouncing about on the moon. And the song Lonely People by the band America playing during the film clips. This showed me a reality on the other side of hopelessness and so reminded me there is hope for me, and perhaps for everyone.”

Actually, it made me a bit melancholy: I was one of the Lonely People, who thought that life had passed me by. But I enjoyed the alternative to the Star-Spangled Banner.

WATCH/LISTEN to Lonely People – America

But it’s actually the version with the voice-over tag (also on the Reddit version) that I recall.

Incidentally, the piano “solo” is played together by America’s Gerry Beckley, and the song’s producer, the legendary, late George Martin.

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