Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft is one of Klaatu's most well-known songs and one of the tracks caught up in The Beatles rumour that plagued their first album shortly after it was released.
Based on an actual event, World Contact Day, that took place March 15, 1953, Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft attempts to carry on the quest by the International Flying Saucer Bureau to use the airwaves to reach anyone out in space who may be listening.
And we know someone was listening, because Karen and Richard Carpenter covered this song in 1977. In the midst of The Beatle Rumour, the most bizarre and crazy time of their career, Klaatu found themselves in the interesting position of having their new album 'Hope' on the charts at the same time as the Carpenters' version of Calling Occupants.
Here is the Newly Released video for Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft:
The Langley School Project
In 1976-77, a music teacher in Langley B.C., Canada took the unique approach of teaching his elementary school students how to perform popular songs of the day. From The Beach Boys to David Bowie... with a little Klaatu in the mix, they recorded their own LP.
Here is a video of their rendition of Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft.
Klaatu Intveriew with Mary MacDonald Rival
John and Terry talk about Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft
Mary: Ok… So, tell us… How did the song Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft come to be.
TERRY: Well, John and I found this very cool old book entitled 'The Flying Saucer Reader'. You may have already guessed that the three of us are into sci-fi, so it should come as no surprise. Anyway... In this book there is a chapter about contacting aliens via mental telepathy.
JOHN: Good idea, as we're both a bit mental already.
TERRY: So… this worldwide organization, the IFSB (International Flying Saucer Bureau) instructs all of its members and officers to memorize and then mentally recite 'The Message', simultaneously on March 15th, 1953. They called it……………. 'Contact Day'.
Mary: Interesting… So, what did 'The Message' say?
JOHN: Essentially, we took that message and created the lyric for Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft. 'The Message' says, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Calling occupants of interplanetary craft… Calling occupants of interplanetary craft that have been observing our Earth. Please come in peace and help us with our earthly problems. We are your friends." Etc., etc.
TERRY: (singing…) "We are your friends…"
JOHN: That's enough Drapes… Let 'em buy the record!
Mary: (laughing) I assure you, I already have it, but… did this work?
TERRY: Well, apparently, UFO sightings increased shortly there-after but JW and I thought… 'What if we turned The Message into a hit song with mucho airplay… maybe the radio waves would reach them. Mankinds' puny brains didn't do much.' As you can plainly see… we're still waitin'.
Mary: Not even an abduction?
TERRY: Well, the jury's still out, but there was that time with Ted…
JOHN: Let's not go there… Next question?
Mary: How did The Carpenters come to record your song.
JOHN: As we found out later, their guitar player 'discovered' our first album during that 'Beatle Rumour Thingy' and brought it to their attention.
TERRY: Wasn't there something Richard Carpenter said about… "the 3 Bs… The Beatles, Beach Boys and Burt Bacharach instead of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms…" or something to that effect.
JOHN: I seem to recall something like that. Anyway, they were much taken with our endeavor and decided to record "Calling Occupants" with a full orchestra and choir… much to our delight. Actually, Terry and I were both fans of The Carpenters long before this. Karen's beautiful voice and those lush arrangements and those chromatic chord progressions…
TERRY: (singing) "Rainy Days and Mondays always get me-e dowwwwn…"
JOHN: Hey!!!! Enough already, I'm talkin' here! (they dissolve into fits of laughter)
Mary: OK, OK… So, it's safe to say you like their approach, their cover of your song…
TERRY: Actually, we see it, or should I say, we hear it… as the ultimate compliment. This song is unlike anything that The Carpenters had attempted previously and they nailed it. I think their version is more accessible than ours… more mainstream…
Mary: Your thoughts, John?
JOHN: Yeah, Terry's right. It was… and is… extremely gratifying to hear one of our compositions rendered so beautifully by a group that is so respected and revered.
Mary: And that sums it up! Thanks John… Terry… It's been fun. Maybe next time we'll talk about Dr. Marvello and 'Fifty Cent'.