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Days of Future Passed

February 11, 2015

Did you think I was ripping off – with a typo – the X-Men? Think again… and read on.

It doesn’t usually bother me if the origin of a good idea is wrongly attributed – after all I have spent most of my working life in an office – but when it comes to art of any sort, then credit should be given where credit is due.

Days of Future Past is indeed the title of a recent X-Men movie. But nearly 50 years ago Days of Future Passed was released by The Moody Blues. It included the valentine standard Nights in White Satin: so familiar to us all – who would have thought it so old? Always worth a listen, so here you are. Forgive the slightly grainy video:

It’s worth dwelling on this for just a moment or so. There is so much going on in that track: a haunting melody, lead vocals rising in power as the music progresses through each verse to the chorus, simple yet strong lyrics, a grandly surreal echo to the backing vocals and a positively symphonic fusion of orchestra and band. It all adds up to what may be the ultimate “power ballad”. Go on, play it again: you know you want to.

The Future is very much on my mind this morning. Not my future – except perhaps incidentally – but The Future. According to Kaiser Chiefs (to whom Mrs simonsometimessays worryingly refers as “my boys”), the Future is Medieval. Now I have to admit that I would have preferred “Mediaeval”, but I will no doubt forgive them when Mrs sss and I see them performing the day after tomorrow. I’m intrigued as to what will be in the setlist – I was expecting them to run through it with me but perhaps I missed their call. Well, let’s hope they get it right, or they’ll either be Dead or in Serious Trouble.

But I see from this morning’s television that the Future has finally arrived: driverless cars.  Yes, cars without drivers are about to be trialled – what a shame no one said “piloted” – in London, Milton Keynes and Coventry.

The Independent’s caption to one picture of the Lutz Pathfinder Pod quotes a government report to the effect that “Drivers will be passengers in their own cars by 2030.” This is virtually dystopian. Or at least it would be if the pod weren’t so, well, disappointing.

Minority Report, it ain't

Minority Report, it ain’t

Clearly this needs an antidote, so in search of something appropriate I came across an opera by Tod Machover entitled Death and the Powers, subtitled A Robot Pageant. I think we would need an entire evening to discuss the point of this opera, but the blurb neatly captures the principal theme – an inventor, late in life, who is in a state of transition from Man to System. Clear? Well while you think about it, here is a truly beautiful excerpt: Miranda’s Aria. Then I urge you to read more.

Tod Machover is known for modern music with a futuristic theme. To be totally candid, I didn’t really know much about him before today, but what I did know, and have confirmed by paying a bit more attention, is that he has created music which is not merely fascinating and innovative, but absolutely delightful to hear. For example, his setting of Philip K Dick’s Valis – from which this Finale is taken. It seems to trace a direct path from 800 year old chant to, well, some time yet to come. Stunning.

Go on, Wolverine: beat that

[featured image: photo by TheRivo, taken from freeimages.com]

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One Comment
  1. Oh how the second paragraph made me chuckle. Once I’d got over the flurry of post-traumatic stress that the chuckles turned into, I enjoyed the rest of the post too. 🙂

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