Music Friday: Title and Musical Hook From The B-52s’ 1989 Song, ‘Topaz,’ Was Inspired by a Maine Psychic

For the first Music Friday of November, we’ve unearthed a cool song by The B-52s that happens to have this month’s birthstone — topaz — as its title and musical hook. Few people know that a Maine psychic gets the credit for inspiring the song’s “topaz” connection.

b52s

“Topaz,” which was written by the group and appeared on its 1989 blockbuster album, Cosmic Thing, is a song about a fanciful city by the sea, where blue dolphins are singing, skyscrapers are winking and minds swim in ecstasy.

Group member Kate Pierson revealed to Onion AV Club that the song’s “topaz” theme is credited to a Maine-based psychic she consulted while the group was finishing up its Cosmic Thing album.

“You have two more songs that you should write before you record… and one of them is ‘Topaz,’” Pierson remembered the psychic saying. “I just see the word ‘topaz.’”

Pierson explained that the group had started writing the song that would eventually become “Topaz,” but they didn’t have a chorus.

“But after she said that, we were, like, ‘Oh, my God: Topaz is the perfect name for this new city by the sea!’”

After the song took on the “Topaz” title, band member Keith Strickland received a comic affirmation when he drove by a giant billboard promoting a Mercury automobile that read: “Topaz: The Right Choice.”

“In retrospect, it seemed so auspicious that that should happen,” she told Onion AV Club. “So we started jamming with those lyrics, and it just came together beautifully. The lyrics just make me tingle. It’s very meaningful. No matter how many times we sing it, it just feels very heartfelt. And it’s one of those songs that everyone knows, so when we play it, everybody gets up and starts shaking it a little bit.”

The B-52s were formed in Athens, Ga., in 1976 and scored their first big hit, “Rock Lobster” in 1978. Rooted in new wave, the group continues to perform with original band members Pierson, Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson and Keith Strickland. A fifth original member, Ricky Wilson, succumbed to AIDS/HIV-related health complications in 1985 at the age of 32.

The band’s name relates to the beehive hairdo Pierson and Cindy Wilson sported during the band’s early years. The shape of their beehives resembled the nose cone of a B-52 bomber.

We hope you enjoy today’s musical treat. Scroll down for the video, and the lyrics are here if you’d like to sing along…

“Topaz”
Written and performed by The B-52s.

New cities by the sea
Skyscrapers are winking
Some hills are never seen
The universe expanding
We’re gazing out to sea
Blue dolphins are singing
Minds swim in ecstasy
Clear planet, ever free

Topaz
Our hearts are traveling faster,
Faster than the speed of love
Straight through a tear in the clouds
Up to the heavens above

Bright ships will sail the seas
Starfishes are spinning
Some hills are never seen
Our universe is expanding
Moonrise upon the sea
Starships are blinking
We’ll walk in ecstasy
Clear planet blue and green

Topaz
Our thoughts are traveling faster
Moving beyond the heavens above

Planets pulsating, constellations creating
Voices are guiding me to the cities by the sea
Yes, I see cities by the sea

Deep forests by the sea
Skyscrapers are winking
Some hills are never seen
The universe is expanding
Topaz

Photo Courtesy of The B52s

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