Ulet Ifansasti, Getty Images
A total solar eclipse is coming to North America on Aug. 21, 2017. Those in the path of totality, which stretches Lincoln Beach, Ore., to Charleston, S.C., will see the moon completely cover the sun – while the rest of the continent will see a partially obscured sun.
Since the event will last for about three hours, you best have a plan. May we suggest inviting some friends over, grabbing snacks, pouring some adult beverages and putting on some eye protection? All that’s left to do is find the perfect soundtrack.
If you need a little help with your eclipse party playlist, here are 13 sure-fire songs to get your guests dancing in the dark. They may not all be about actual solar eclipses, but there you’ll find plenty of mentions of solar activity and darkness.
“Total Eclipse” (1982)
“The Dark of the Sun” (1991)
“Promises in the Dark” (1981)
On Pat Benatar‘s third album Precious Time, she — along with collaborator, bandmate and then husband-to-be Neil Giraldo — wrote about the futility of girding oneself against future pain after relationships go south. Benatar sings, “Just when you think you got it down / Resistance nowhere to be found / They whisper, promises in the dark.”
“Beware of Darkness” (1970)
Ex-Beatles star George Harrison‘s “Beware of Darkness,” from All Things Must Pass, warns against being blindsided by illusion – a theme as relevant today as it was then: “Watch out now, take care / Beware of greedy leaders / They’ll take you where you should not go / While Weeping Atlas Cedars / They just want to grow / Beware of darkness.”
“Black Hole Sun” (1994)
One of Soundgarden‘s most recognizable songs, “Black Hole Sun” was frontman Chris Cornell‘s exercise in word play. While he said there is no real idea behind it, Cornell was surprised that “Black Hole Sun” was so often mistaken for a happy song. Sure, the melody is pretty, but check out the lyrics: “In my eyes, indisposed / In disguises no one knows / Hides the face, lies the snake / The sun is my disgrace.”
“Sounds of Silence” (1964)
Simon and Garfunkel
“The Sounds of Silence” has one of the most memorable opening lyrics in rock: “Hello darkness, my old friend / I’ve come to talk with you again / Because a vision softly creeping / Left its seeds while I was sleeping.” Paul Simon wrote it at the age of 21, while living with his parents. Appearing on Simon and Garfunkel‘s debut album, the song follows a single evening in which the narrator is literally and figuratively walking through the dark.
“Blinded by the Light” (1976)
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
Manfred Mann had already been covering a lot of Bob Dylan songs. So when a young Bruce Springsteen was tagged as the “new Dylan,” it stood to reason that Mann would give one of his songs a shot. Springsteen hadn’t gotten far with “Blinded by the Light,” a verbose track from his debut album Greetings from Asbury Park. But the version by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band hit No. 1, a feat the song’s writer never accomplished.
“Dancing in the Dark” (1984)
“Dancing in the Dark” remains one of Bruce Springsteen‘s most popular and successful songs. It’s not just because he’s performed it at nearly every concert for years. The video for this Born in the U.S.A. hit was a cultural phenomenon, introducing Friends star Courtney Cox to audiences. While it’s often mistaken as a uplifting track, the lyrics actually speak of paralyzing insecurity and self-loathing.
“Ain’t No Sunshine” (1971)
Inspired by the 1962 film Days of Wine and Roses, the Booker T. Jones-produced “Ain’t No Sunshine” became a breakthrough hit for future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Bill Withers after it appeared on his debut album Just As I Am.
“Darkness, Darkness” (1969)
From the 1969 Youngbloods album Elephant Mountain, “Darkness, Darkness” was the result of frontman Jesse Colin Young’s conjuring of soldiers’ experiences while fighting in Vietnam. “Darkness, darkness, be my pillow / Take my head and let me sleep / In the coolness of your shadow / In the silence of your dream,” he wrote, in a song covered by myriad artists including Robert Plant.
“You’re So Vain” (1972)
In this classic Carly Simon song,” she tells an ex-lover: “You’re so vain / You probably think this song is about you.” Warren Beatty certainly did; others guessed that Mick Jagger was a chief candidate – especially after Simon revealed the Rolling Stones frontman contributed “uncredited backing vocals on the song. Perhaps it was he who inspired the line: “Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun.”
“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (1974)
Elton John‘s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me,” co-written with lyricist Bernie Taupin, appeared on 1974’s Carribou, reaching No. 2 on the charts. But the sun didn’t quite go down on the song after that: It enjoyed a resurgence in popularity when a 1991 duet between John and George Michael eclipsed that success, landing in the No. 1 spot in both the U.S. and U.K.