“Catch a Falling Star”, a 1957 hit penned by Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance and sung by Perry Como, an American who, it is generally agreed, led a blameless life.
With one exception.
Pack your oversized catcher’s mitt and a healthy dose of scepticism and let’s get bustin’.
“Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away.”
In an effort to clarify terms, let’s assume he means a meteorite, since an actual star falling to earth would mean curtains for Como, his pocket, everyone else and their pockets, and this song would be busted before it’s begun. So, a meteorite it is.
Hand Me My Moonbeam Jar.
The odds of being where a meteorite is falling is anywhere between 1 in 3000 – 250,000. Theoretically, Perry could spend 690 years standing in a field waiting to get lucky.
When one considers a meteorite must be bigger than 10m across for any of it to survive burning up in the atmosphere, lucky is an ambiguous adjective. In 2013, a 20m meteorite struck Russia’s atmosphere, exploded, injured 1200 and caused a billion roubles’ worth of damage.
And that might be the better outcome for our hero – if it doesn’t break up, Como’s courting more than broken nail if he sticks his paw out. The kinetic release of energy from a meteorite that size will be like catching the Hiroshima bomb…or 20 of them.
His only chance of gloving it is if it undergoes a process called ablation, whereupon it breaks up into smaller pieces as it travels through the atmosphere. Even so, a standard catcher’s mitt might not cut it, especially when a meteorite travels at 40,000 mph, which is one hell of a fastball.
To misquote Chief Brody, he’s going to need a bigger mitt.
So there he is for years on end, running about in fields with an oversized catcher’s mitt in the hope of being Perry-on-the-spot. But with ¾ of the planet covered in water, his odds of success are much higher if he’s at sea (which he arguably is anyway) – on land his odds are reduced by 71%. Not wanting to look silly, Como abandons the field, commandeers a clipper and sets sail, one hand on the tiller, the other outstretched and waiting.
Adrift in so many ways, he ponders his predicament. His maritime chances are still ludicrously low, and his crew on The Perry Como Show are starting to wonder where he is. There must be a way to increase his odds.
Fly me to the Moon.
Astronomer’s observatories seem the natural choice…but it’s hard to imagine scientists being okay with having Como loose in their workplace, grabbing any old telescope and ruining months of careful sky mapping as he endeavours to spot that plummeting justification for all his years of fruitless standing about with his pocket at the ready.
Foiled, he casts about for another idea. NASA? If the star won’t come to Como…yes, yes, he needs to go to the source!
But what with hosting the show, singing songs, advertising Chesterfields and fathering three children, it seems unlikely Perry would’ve had the time necessary to undergo the rigorous training required to become a bona fide astronaut. It seems his only alternative is steal a spacesuit, don it and covertly cling to a rocket bound for a low orbit space station.
But he can’t just go whenever he feels the urge. He must time his flight for the only astrological event that guarantees him his chance to pocket some star – Halley’s Comet. Of course, if he mucks it up, he’s got to wait 75 years for another chance. Still it’s better than 690 years standing in a field.
There’s a Rocket in my Pocket.
Ignoring for a moment the extraordinary odds stacked against being in the right place at the right time with the right equipment necessary to catch a molten projectile hurtling at terminal velocity, let’s say he manages it. What then?
Why, the answer is simple. Put it in his pocket.
If he’s in the habit of putting scalding interstellar rocks next to his genitalia, then surely an investment in lead lined pockets is a sensible precaution. But what happens when he goes through Customs?
“What’s that thing glowing in your pocket, Como?”
“My metaphor for pitching woo and maintaining a positive outlook…”
Cavity search ahoy.
There’s another pocket problem – the size of the falling star. It’d have to be tiny to fit in the pocket, unless he’s donned a pair of voluminous clown pants…with lead lined pockets…that won’t alarm border security…Como the Clown with his sizzling junk and a catcher’s mitt the size of an Alsatian.
Anyone for Hot Pockets?
How about the never-letting-it-fade-away clause? Does this mean keeping the rock at a constant temperature? How does he keep it heated without removing it from the pocket? The only answer is either dwelling permanently within a giant microwave, or standing an imprudent distance from a nuclear reactor core – neither of which are going to be doing anything for his health…not to mention the Como cojones, still nestling next to a superheated agglomeration of iron and nickel.
As he goes on to say in the final verse, troubles are multiplyin’.
The Earth says Helloooo.
We’ve made a lot of allowances in this Lyricbuster – being in the right place at the right time, catching a pocket-sized rock travelling at Mach 50, not getting burnt or vaporised, putting it down his trousers and not suffering an instant eunuchism…but the image of a harlequin Como riding a space rocket like something out of a Kubrick film and ripping off a hunk of a septuaquinennial comet to stuff down his oversized pants for eternity is enough to bust this lyric like an ablating meteor: Lyricbusted!