Touch The Night – Neil Young – Landing On Water

Posted: March 1st, 2018 under CD.

It is one of the most famous phrases in history – and now experts have proven that Touch The Night – Neil Young – Landing On Water Armstrong got it wrong. As he became the first man to set foot on the Moon in 1969, the astronaut believed he had said: ‘One small step for a man. But linguistic analysis has proven that Armstrong dropped the ‘a’, instead uttering the immortal: ‘One small step for man. On returning home after the Moon landing, Armstrong claimed he thought he had uttered the ‘a’ in the sentence.

Researchers claimed perhaps the ‘a’ was lost in transmission, or that it simply could not be heard because of his Ohio accent. The long-running debate has finally been settled, however: and it has proved Armstrong wrong. Dr Chris Riley, author of the new Haynes book Apollo 11, An Owner’s Manual, and forensic linguist John Olsson concluded that Armstrong does pronounce his ‘a’s in a unique way – but that he definitely did not utter the sound during the Moon landing. Instead, their analysis of a voice print spectograph showed the ‘r’ of ‘for’ and the ‘m’ of ‘man’ running together – proving, they told the BBC, that there was simply no room for an ‘a’. The pair claimed that the tone of Armstrong’s voice indicated that he did intend to say the ‘a’, however.

They said they heard a rising pitch in the word ‘man’ and a falling pitch in the word ‘mankind’. Mr Olsson said that indicated he was contrasting using speech: ‘Indicating that he knows the difference between man and mankind and that he meant man as in ‘a man’ not ‘humanity’. Taking into account the circumstances and context of the speech, the pair concluded that for someone who had a large workload at the time, it is ‘not surprising’ that the ‘a’ might not have been enunciated. Mr Olsson said: ‘If nothing else, this so-called omission shows us that the tasks Armstrong was then engaged in were occupying his attention much more closely than his precise words: surely exactly what we would expect of an astronaut at a new frontier of human space exploration? The finding disputes a 2006 Australian finding that claimed Armstrong did utter the ‘a’.

Riled and Olsson theorised that the Australian researchers may also have been fooled by his accent as he drawled the word ‘for’ into ‘ferrrr’. They pair made their findings using archive material of Armstrong speaking, recorded throughout and after the mission, as well as the best recordings of the Apollo 11 mission audio ever released by Nasa. They have been taken from the original magnetic tape recordings made at Johnson Space Center, Houston, which have recently been re-digitised to make uncompressed, higher-fidelity audio recordings. They admitted Armstrong may have made the mistake because he was under a bit of pressure at the time. And they say that the gaffe may even have improved the rhythm of the sentence, making it a poetic snapshot of an epic moment in history. Had he included the ‘a’, they said, it would have altered the sound of the phrase entirely.