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The Songs of Distant Earth
(released 21st November 1994)

The original cover

The 1995 cover

Further information:

Sound On Sound interview
(February 1995)

Music VR website

Next album

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Previous compilations:
Elements: The Best Of Mike Oldfield
Elements: 1973-1991


Track Listing

1: In The Beginning (1:24)
2: Let There Be Light (4:52)
3: Supernova (2:16)
4: Magellan (4:41)
5: First Landing (1:16)
6: Oceania (3:27)
7: Only Time Will Tell (4:19)
8: Prayer For The Earth (2:10)
9: Lament For Atlantis (2:44)
10: The Chamber (1:49)
11: Hibernaculum (3:32)
12: Tubular World (3:23)
13: The Shining Ones (2:59)
14: Crystal Clear (5:42)
15: The Sunken Forest (2:39)
16: Ascension (5:48)
17: A New Beginning (1:33)

Other Artists

Tablas: Pandit Dinesh
: Molly Oldfield
: Cori Josias, Ella Harper, David Nickless, Roame,
Members of "Verulam Consort", The Tallis Scholars


The Songs Of Distant Earth was recorded between June 1993 and June 1994.

This album is based on the novel of the same name by Arthur C Clarke. Mike gained permission from Clarke himself after visiting his home in Ceylon to discuss his intentions. Mike also gave him a copy of Tubular Bells II (which includes several tracks named after Clarke's stories) as an example of his work. Clarke was sufficiently impressed that, as well as giving Mike his blessing for the project, he also wrote sleeve notes for the album.


In The Beginning:
- The astronaut speech sample is Bill Anders reading from the Book of Genesis on Apollo 8 as it orbited the Moon on Christmas Day 1968 (and was triggered from the keyboard by Mike's daughter Molly).

- The explosion sound is from an episode of Star Trek.

Only Time Will Tell:
- The voice that says "Only Time Will Tell" is taken from a voice over on the US Television series Lost In Space (the ship's engines are audible in the background of the sample).

The original speech said: "Even as we watch, the spaceship Jupiter 2 is drawn deeper and deeper into the gravitational pull of the unknown planet. Whether its alien environment will be friendly or hostile, whether this will be the beginning of a new adventure for the Robinson family, or the end of everything, only time will tell".

Prayer For The Earth:
- The Saami chant was performed by Nils-Aslak Valkeapää for the 1987 Norwegian film Ofelias (English title: The Pathfinder).

Tubular World:
- The female voice saying "Enter" (edited from the word "Enterprise") is from the Zero G sample collection. Mike also used samples from Zero G on Heaven's Open and The Millennium Bell.

Crystal Clear:
- The hypnotist countdown is from Mike Joseph's self-hypnosis tape.
- The drums heard after the countdown are from Led Zeppelin's When The Levee Breaks, from the album Led Zeppelin IV (the sample is also used in Out Of Sight on Guitars).

Versions of The Songs Of Distant Earth

The audio-only version (1994)
The CD-ROM version (1994)
As the CD-ROM content disallowed The Songs Of Distant Earth from the charts, an audio-only version was released first, followed shortly after by the CD-ROM version. The multimedia section was presented as Track 1 on the disc.

This version includes a clip of Mike miming to Let There Be Light using a Chapman Stick.

(To unlock the video clips on the CD-ROM, click the fingertips on the hand to play the Tubular Bells piano intro.)

The re-released version (1995)
This version has a completely different cover. The multimedia section was included as standard, and this time the CD was a multi-session disc, so that the audio portion could be played in normal CD players without any problems.

The clip of Mike playing the Chapman Stick was replaced by the complete Let There Be Light video.

Credit: David Porter of The Mike Oldfield Information Service, Robert Szucs, Richard Carter, Brandon Blume and Gareth Randall.

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