Sun Ra – The Damneded Air (rec. December 1962) (poem)

“There is no place for the past in the realm of the future,” Ray Stubbs darkly intones over a quivering and querulous trumpet and piano in his 1962 performance of Sun Ra’s apocalyptic poem “The Damneded Air.”

The Damneded Air

around the earth
circles the infinity of the damneded air
the damneded inheritance of the earth
are the same vibrations it ever was
we need new air
we need the air that vibrates with the
sound of another kind of mind
we need the beam of the future to strike
the earth
like the lightning and the power of a
in order that the dying embers of the past
should suddenly be extinct
there is no place for the past in the realm
of the future
except temporarily as an exhibit of that which is taboo
because the past is the past
and the future is the future
the eternity of the limited past
was for those who were taught the limited
the unlimited reach of the future is
another kind of forever
there is an inner darkness and there is an
outer darkness
those who become subjects of the inner
darkness dwell therein
those who become subjects of the outer
darkness shall dwell there out
out is the way of the outer
and in, the way of the inner
and in of the inner in
is different from the end of the outer in
because the outer in is the outer on
out is the outer and in is the inner
the way out is the way to living, breathing
let’s blast the damneded air and claim the
right to be a part of the outer heavens and
outer space
that we might live and breathe and be
eternally alive
let’s blast the damnded air
the imprisoning circle that bans the earth
with the echoes of the dead truth of the
damneded word
lets the light shine upon the darkness
that enchains the meaning of the
knowledge that has been used as the law
to destroy


Here Listen


Here download

this planet is doomed
the science fiction poetry of Sun Ra
Kicks Books (2011)
The damneded air   pp 64, 65

Many thanks to FromNowhere and  OtherPlanesofThere for their insightful contribution to this post.


Sun Ra – A Joyful Noise (1980)

This video represents a good range of Sun Ra’s many musical moods. Ra was among the first person of any musical genre to use electronic keyboards. Here, the venerable titan of the jazz avantgarde performs tunes including “Astro Black,” “Calling Planet Earth,” “Organ Solo,” “We Travel the Spaceways,” “Ankh,” and other seriocomic chants and jingles.
1980 – director: Robert Mugge


Some call me Mr. Ra… others call me Mr. Ry… you can call me MYSTERY

Sun Ra is in love

Sun Ra said and wrote many strange things while he was upon this planet. The easy, mindless reaction is to just label him ‘weird’ and hide behind that facile label. Another possibility is that he was passionately engaged in and by his creative mythology, and that what he really meant could only be articulated in his music.

And as someone comments on youtube: “We must all learn to travel the spacewaves if we want peace in this world.”

Sun Ra – Cry of Jazz (1959)


Filmed on the cusp of the tumultuous decade of the Sixties,  when Black Power and Pride would become rallying points and violent riots and marches would help spur the Civil Rights movement,  filmmaker Ed O. Bland prophesized the upcoming unrest brewing as well as the “death of jazz.”

As the musical form metamorphosed (spurred by increasing black angst), the anguished cry for freedom within Black identity expressed itself increasingly in the freedom of both soloists,  and even bands as a whole to improvise.

The developments of “free jazz,” the further fractured and more violent forms of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman,  and the fusion of Miles Davis,  among others,  which watered down the essence by combining it with White musical styles (like Rock and Roll),  eventually led to the end of jazz as a vital art form.

As important as the insightful social commentary is, the highlight to music fans may be the many shots of Sun Ra and his band playing powerful and expressive jazz in several different styles.

Artfully shot, with the band in the shadows (an apt metaphor), this is the only known footage of the legendary bandleader and his crack band from their Chicago period.

Pianist and composer Sun Ra may be primarily known for his outrageous dress and statements – he claimed to have been born on Mars, and he and his band often dressed in flamboyant space suits – but as is shown and heard in this feature, his music demands and deserves more attention and respect.

All members of the Arkestra burn through the tunes, with saxophonist John Gilmore especially a standout – showing the chops that made him an influence on the much more well-known John Coltrane.

After three decades that have resulted in some positive changes, and unfortunately much that is still the same, “The Cry of Jazz” still sings in pain and majesty; and for both the music and the message, this DVD is an important and essential addition to any jazz/music lover’s collection.

Directed by Edward Bland
30 min.