Songwriters and the planets Neptune and Pluto

Irving Berlin

It's generally known as the Great American Songbook - and they were the innovators. From the beginning decades of the 20th century and well into the fifties, an outstanding foundation of American popular music was laid by the songwriters of "Tin Pan Alley" and related societies. This article examines the influence of Neptune and Pluto in the horoscopes of important composers, around the birth of what came to be perhaps the most distinct and recognizable expression of American music.

Neptune and Pluto are the two outermost planets in the solar system. In astrology they signify esoteric themes relating to inspiration, imagination and delusion (Neptune) and transformation, death/rebirth and power issues (Pluto). Pluto is believed to influence public appeal and suggestion, and in connection with personal planets the ability to convey universal states of emotion through different forms of communication. Neptune can produce inspiration and art of a higher order, reaching into subconscious levels of otherworldly dreams and wishes, the music of the spheres. It is reasonable astrological thinking to suppose these two planets to be strong in the horoscopes of composers and songwriters. Music is perhaps the most abstract art form known to us, and the vibes of Neptune and Pluto in connection with personal points and planets in the horoscope show the propensity and ability to reach "beyond" and create, in timeless and abstract forms. The works of these composers have transcended boundaries and genres to become part of the cultural heritage of a nation or a world. A lot of these songwriters were born when Neptune and Pluto was close to each other, thus strengthening their impact - aspects of one planet are sometimes the aspects of the other one too.

Most noticeable is perhaps the chart of brilliant composer Hoagy Carmichael, writer of the standard "Georgia on my mind", and others. Carmichael's planetary configurations embody the idea of Neptune and Pluto's importance for the art of songwriting. His incredible stellium of planets Mars, Uranus, Saturn, Venus, Mercury and Sun practically all oppose either Neptune or Pluto, hovering about ten degrees apart in Gemini. Here the dominance of Neptune, Pluto, Sagittarius and Gemini is total and makes for a very strong creative awareness. It focuses the communication of his musical vision as the purpose of life.

Famed composer George Gershwin shows Neptune and Pluto involved in a "Grand Trine" formation with Jupiter and the Moon in air signs. Pluto also squares Mercury and Neptune squares the Midheaven (professional, public identity) in Virgo, close to Mercury (planet of communication).

Gemini-dominated, witty craftsman of song, Cole Porter, has a close conjunction of Neptune and Pluto angular, rising six degrees above the Gemini ascendant (the very area that according to Michel Gauqelin's statistical observations was most important in determining purpose of life and professional inclinations). A very significant placement in itself, and even more with both planets also squaring Saturn.

Irvin Berlin, highly influential composer and lyricist, doesn't have Pluto or Neptune very dominant, though the conjunction of Pluto and Neptune opposes Jupiter and sextiles Saturn, perhaps indicating a more fated and generational than merely personal association with songwriting. Berlin has a very close three-part conjunction of the Sun, Mercury and Moon in Taurus however, creating a strong Venus dominance (and so aesthetic) with Venus itself also placed in Taurus.

The horoscope of Jerome Kern, writer of "Ol' man river", "Smoke gets in your eyes" and many other songs reveals another air sign "Grand trine", involving Pluto, a Sun-Mars conjunction and Uranus/Ascendant. Again urging him to try and communicate an original and timeless idea of art, which by extension is quite likely to have transformed also his own self, ultimately.

Richard Rodgers, the great musical theatre composer is another example of very strong Neptune and Pluto vibrations, with Neptune conjunct both the Sun (at the beginning of Cancer) and Mercury (last degrees of Gemini). Pluto in turn is conjunct Mars in the first house. Pluto is also EXACTLY opposite Uranus, and Neptune squares the Moon.

Harold Arlen, writer of "Over the rainbow" and other standards shows Neptune conjunct the moon, opposing Uranus in Capricorn. Pluto trines Saturn (and Sun, widely).

Johnny Mercer, who wrote the lyrics to "Come rain or come shine", "Moon River" and other standards has Neptune opposite a Venus-Uranus conjunction, quincunx Mercury and square Saturn. Pluto squares Mars and Quincunxes the Sun.

Saul Chaplin, another Hollywood composer and musical director inducted into the Songwriter's hall of fame displays a Sun at the Aquarius/Pisces border and Moon in Pisces. Neptune in Cancer is opposite Venus, quincunx Mercury and (widely) trine Moon. Pluto trines the Sun and Mercury and quincunxes Venus.

This somewhat brief article is by no means satisfying, of course. In later texts I will look to the horoscopes of more, (including female!) songwriters. In any case, while not constituting any irrefutable proof of the power of Neptune and Pluto for creativity, the cases shown here still point to the role these planets play in going beyond the everyday through art. So, to be continued.

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