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Chris HAdfield

September 15, 2015 by Speakers' Spotlight

Colonel Chris Hadfield’s New Album, Space Sessions: Songs From A Tin Can

Canadian astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield is a man of many talents. He’ll be releasing his new music album, Space Sessions: Songs From a Tin Can, on October 9. The guitar and vocal tracks were recorded in space while he was on board the International Space Station. Col. Hadfield is known for his ability to reach out to the masses, whether it is through tweeting photographs from space or through his rendition of “Space Oddity” by David Bowie, which has more than 26 million views on YouTube. CBC Vancouver host Andrew Chang had the chance to sit down to speak with him about music and politics:

Q: The songs that you wrote and recorded, who are they for?

Ah, who does a songwriter write a song for? In my case, they are primarily to explain it to myself.

When I’m having a complex experience, or a really busy day, or I’ve a whole mix of thoughts and emotions about something, one of my most proven or best way to deal with it personally is to sit down and play a little guitar.

It was more like I took the photographs of, hey, this is a pretty unusual thing for me and a set of feelings and thoughts and let me just do my best to make a musical snapshot of it right now, so then later on I can look back and think about it.

Q: Do you miss being in the spotlight? Because you really did go from Chris Hadfield, the astronaut to Chris Hadfield, the star.
Well, it didn’t really change what I was doing day to day. It was extremely busy on a spaceship and then once in awhile we would link up with earth and we would talk with a bunch of people and that’s great. I would send pictures of what I am doing and I could see the number of people building on earth that were sharing the experience, which I just thought was great. But no one would have thought anything of that if we hadn’t done our job right, if we messed up or crashed something or broken something.

Q: So, what is next for you, how do you top what you’ve already done?
I’ve never tried to top things. It is more like what have I done so far and what can I do next that is useful and fun and that challenges me and that makes me feel good about myself.

Q: Is there something specific?
Well there is a bunch of things. I’ve written two books and we have a children’s book in the works, because I think that will be something useful that comes from that experience that will make a nice children’s book. And I teach at university, at the University of Waterloo. I am doing a thing thing called Generator where we are and bringing some really entertaining science people and comedians and some music to Massey Hall in Toronto in October. I am on the Space Advisory Board for Canada. I am doing a history of science series on YouTube called It’s Not Rocket Science, because I think people really need to see it in an entertaining way but that internalize the ideas of it that are important. And then playing music and speaking. And I do a thing with schools all the time called On the Lunch Pad where just for half an hour I tie in and answer Q&A with students for 30 minutes, I do that several times a week.

Q: You’re a busy guy!
Well to me that is all part of the same thing, it’s the same as the album. I’ve had these rare experiences to this point in life that I have been trusted with and what do I do with it now?

Q: In the long list of things that you are doing, politics is not on that list?
Being a politician is extremely difficult. We all criticise them, because we would like them to be perfect and we would like them to solve all the problems, naturally.

It is a huge level of responsibility, it is relentless work. But it’s not the only way to be positive influence in Canadian society. There are other things, I think, that you can do within the fabric of who we are that help people make better decisions, that help people make informed, more informed decisions. That generically contribute to the shared quality of life. I don’t think you have to be a politician to do that as a citizen of Canada.

Q: Have you been approached?
Oh sure, people have talked to me. But I am not interested in being a politician.

CBC.ca/September, 2015