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STANDOUT TRACK: No. 11, “Come Back Now Baby (Your Data’s Good),” a catchy ditty with many indie-pop earmarks: slightly out-of-tune vocals, three-note guitar parts, and a protagonist in a doomed relationship—with a satellite. In a high tenor, James Fort, 34, sings a valentine to the Voyager 1 space probe. “Send me back some photographs/Of all the intricate rings, a myriad of moons/I’ve been waiting for nine hours/Since your last message—will it get through?”
MUSICAL MOTIVATION: Three years ago, Fort read a CNN article about Voyager 1 while killing time during his day job as a government librarian. Radio transmissions from the spacecraft, which was about 8 billion miles from Earth at the time, took more than nine hours to reach NASA scientists. The story reminded the Adams Morgan–based songwriter of long nights waiting for girlfriends to call. “In pop music, it’s easy to put things in terms of boy/girl,” he says.
Fort found himself particularly drawn to the tragic elements of the story. Voyager 1 is now drifting past the edge of the solar system, and soon researchers will lose track of it completely, which troubles the song’s protagonist. “It’s a sad tale. He’d like the satellite to come back,” he says. “My being single at the time would have something to do with that [theme].”
SPACE CASE: Fort will release the album and play the song live for the first time next month, so he isn’t sure how audiences will react. The few friends who have heard the track were baffled that he refers to a spacecraft as “baby.” “People are certainly going to think [I] am talking about a female,” he says. —Sadie Dingfelder