Adrift on a Star

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composition date
E.Y. Harburg
Jacques Offenbach

I'm a little astronaut

Harburg was working on the “Barcarolle” lyric and having trouble with it. His wife stepped out of the house for a few hours and when he came home, there was no dinner on the table, but she’d left him a note. She knew he was working on a very tough lyric and she wrote, “Don’t worry I know you’re a man who’s always valiant enough to always swim against the tide and keep your eyes on the universal stars and your hand on the eternal plow. It’ll come to you and you will find one meatball in the icebox.” So he thought, “Why can’t the boat in the song, instead of being a gondola, be the earth—which is a universal boat that is roaming around in space?” From there, he wrote the lyric. He commented, “I know why I’m here. I’m here because I’m on a boat. I’m a little astronaut in a great big astronautic vehicle called the world. Here we are adrift on a star.”

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