Today’s Special Song for Now: Thomas Dolby, “The Flat Earth”

Thomas Dolby, “The Flat Earth”

The Earth can be any shape you want it
Any shape at all
Dark and cold or bright and warm
Long or thin or small
…”

The name Thomas Dolby was something his friends called him for fun, and he kept it. It sounded better to him than the given name, Tom Robertson. In 1980, he emerged on the pop scene with the hit single “She Blinded Me With Science.” In that song and the MTV video for it, he took on the role of the rocking mad scientist, connected to all the cool synths then in vogue that he played.

He extended which identity he extended into his next single, from the 1984 album The Flat Earth.

Now all these years later, it’s still the title song that still outshines all the other songs. But in a subtle, gentle way. It somehow sounds as compelling as it did 36 years ago. ambitious in it’s percussive groove and poignantly nonsensical lyrics. Reflecting the rising tide of increasing uncertainty with the most foundational truths of our lives – such as if the moon is real, and if the earth is flat – it speaks directly to our present moment.

And in time you’ll come to understand
This flat old Earth is in your gentle hands.

It also speaks to all our weary souls, battered by how unmoored our common knowledge has become, yearning for something normal. Like Dorothy’s dream deliverance back to Kansas, it’s about that longing in our hearts just to go home.

The earth can be any shape you want it….
But it’s home, and all I ever had
And maybe why for me the Earth is flat


“I sang in a choir when I was 10 or 11,” Dolby said, “and learned to sightread single lines. But other than that I don’t have a formal education. I picked up the guitar initially, playing folk tunes —Dylan— then I graduated to piano when I got interested in jazz, listening to people like Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, and so on.

“The first electronic instruments started to become accessible in the mid-70s and I got my hands on a kit built synthesizer and never looked back.”

“The Flat Earth”
By Thomas Dolby

The Earth can be any shape you want it
Any shape at all
Dark and cold or bright and warm
Long or thin or small
But it’s home and all I ever had
And maybe why for me the Earth is flat

Friends have often asked me why
I’m sensitive about my height
I would look around and say
Hmm, I thought I was immune
All my life I have waited
to be given any word
It was screaming to be heard

(Please please please remember)
The Earth can be any shape you want it
(All night… Hold me, baby)
Any shape at all
(Love me, darling)
Dark and cold or bright and warm
(Believe me, honey)
Long or thin or small
(please remember)
But it’s home (home, baby) and all I ever had
(All night… Hold me, baby)
And maybe why for me the Earth is flat

Turn the island to the storm tonight
Ooooo, turn it

Then when they spill the demon seed
Turn and face into the wind
All along you still believed
Believed you were immune
And if love is all you’re missing
Look into your heart
Is anybody home?


The Earth can be any shape you want it
Any in the world
But don’t you point that raygun at me
I might just explode
There are stones buried in your soul
And only a fool would blame the death of rock and roll, yeah

And in time (time, baby) you’ll come to understand
This flat old Earth is in your gentle hands

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