How Far Is A Light-Year?

Play these songs, it’s therapy.

John Gorman
9 min readNov 4, 2021


Photo by Shot by Cerqueira on Unsplash

“This is what we’ve been looking for since the day we met. Time. That’s what the Good Place really is — it’s not even a place, really. It’s just having enough time with the people you love.” — Chidi Anagonye, The Good Place, Ep. 4x12

My favorite album of the 21st Century is Frank Ocean’s Blond(e). This should hardly come as a surprise, I’ve been singing Mr. Ocean’s praises on this page for over five years.

Even half a decade later, I’ve listened to it more often in 2021 than any other full record. I work to it, write to it, and over the course of this summer when I slept on a mattress in an otherwise empty yet brand new house, I moved to it.

The album’s 19 tracks are a sweeping and disarmingly gorgeous whole and deserve to be listened to alone, in one sitting, without interruption, without distraction, with the lights off and the candles ablaze. I believe the experience seeps into the infinite recesses of our souls and spirits — a devastating, wondrous journey that plants flags in our psyche and reshapes our neuropathways. It’s done in an hour; it lingers long after.

I believe Frank Ocean painstakingly assembled Blond(e) to eulogize his youthful and mistake-filled past, chronicle his enlightenment and innocence lost, release old ghosts, honor what (and, importantly, who) shaped him, and proclaim a future free from duty and other people’s expectations.

Near the close of the final song “Futura Free”, Ocean compatriot [and a budding star in his own right] Mikey Alfred asks over the murmuring outro music, “How far is a light-year?”

A light-year — the distance light travels in a year, in case you’re new to astronomy — is roughly equivalent to 9.4×1012 km. It can’t possibly be a coincidence that “Futura Free” is 9.4 minutes (9:24) long. It isn’t; Frank Ocean himself all but telegraphed it.

This kind of intricate construction and self-referential detail are found all over the album and help separate Blond(e) from merely excellent or even cohesive collections of sound and song. This kind of intricate…



John Gorman

Yarn Spinner + Brand Builder + Renegade. Award-winning storyteller with several million served. For inquiries: