Rush – “Distant Early Warning”

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RushDistant Early Warning
Grace Under Pressure, 1984

In a 1984 interview Neil Peart describes writing “Distant Early Warning”:

“The main theme of the song is a series of things, but that’s certainly one of the idea[s] (our very tense world situation), and living in the modern world basically in all of its manifestations in terms of the distance from us of the threat of superpowers and the nuclear annihilation and all of that stuff, and these giant missiles pointed at each other across the ocean. There’s all of that, but that tends to have a little bit of distance from people’s lives, but at the same time I think it is omnipresent, you know, I think that threat does loom somewhere in everyone’s subconscious, perhaps.what-goes-down-must-come-up And then it deals with the closer things in terms of relationships and how to keep a relationship in such a swift-moving world, and it has something to do with our particular lives, dealing with revolving doors, going in and out, but also I think that’s generally true with people in the modern world where things for a lot of people are very difficult, and consequently, work and the mundane concerns of life tend to take precedence over the important values of relationships and of the larger world and the world of the abstract as opposed to the concrete, and dealing with all of those things with grace. [more of the song is played] And when I see a little bit of grace in someone’s life. Like when you drive past a horrible tenement building and you see these wonderful pink flamingos on the balcony up there, or something like, some little aspect of humanity that strikes you as a beautiful resistance if you like.”

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Kansas – “Song for America”

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Kansas“Song For America”
Song for America, February 1975

Virgin land of forest green, dark and stormy plains, here all life abounds
Sunlit valley, mountain fields, unseen in the rain, here all life abounds
No man rules this land, no human hand has soiled this paradise
Waiting patiently, so much to see, so rich in Earth’s delights

ku-xlargePainted desert, sequined sky, stars that fill the night, here all life abounds
Rivers flowing to the sea, sunshine pure and bright, here all life abounds
No man rules this land, no human hand has soiled this paradise
Waiting patiently, so much to see, so rich in Earth’s delights

So the maiden lies in waiting, for the sails to reach the shore
Land of beauty and abundance, innocent, you opened wide your door
Wanderers found the waiting treasure, full of gifts beyond their measure
Milk and honey for our pleasure…..
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Across the sea there came a multitude, sailing ships upon the wave
Filled with visions of Utopia, and the freedom that they crave
Ravage, plunder, see no wonder, rape and kill and tear asunder
Chop the forest, plow it under…..

Highways scar the mountainsides, buildings to the sky, people all around
Houses stand in endless rows, sea to shining sea, people all around
So we rule this land, and here we stand upon our paradise,
Dreaming of a place, our weary race is ready to arise.

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Soft Machine – “Soft Space”

Soft Machine – “Soft Space”
Alive and Well – Recorded in Paris
1978

soft-machine-soft-space-part-1-edited-version-harvest“But wait, didn’t I give it an eight? Ah yes. That has a lot to do with ‘Soft Space’, the last composition on the album. That one really made me jump out of my chair when I heard it. Seriously, now, I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears when I learned it was tackled onto the same record, because it sounds nothing like the stuff they’ve been doing before and, moreover, it predicts the future: it’s a skilled proto-technofest. Jenkins (or maybe it’s a tape loop) plays this repetitive synth riff a la ‘Baba O’Riley’, and Marshall backs him up with robotic electronic drumming, while other synth overdubs add up atmospherics and various soloing passages complement the track so it never stops being hypnotic but rarely becomes boring. My main surprise, of course, is due to the fact that this was recorded in 1978. It’s purest techno, and as such, better than ninety-nine percent of the techno you hear today – Marshall is playing techno. Although, actually, I suppose it might have been a drum machine… again, wait: as early as 1978? Maybe I’m just plain going crazy. In any case, this chronological anomaly is at least sufficient to make the album really interesting from a ‘curiosity’ point of view, so I’m adding one more point.”
~ excerpt from George Starostin’s Review on Soft Machine

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Klaatu – “So Said the Lighthouse Keeper”

Klaatu – “So Said The Lighthouse Keeper
Hope, September 1977

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Hope, released in September 1977, is the second album by the Canadian progressive rock group Klaatu. It is a concept album, recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra, about the sole survivor of an arrogant race of beings, who warns space travellers of hazards in the last days of his life. Many fans and critics consider Hope to be the most creative of the Klaatu albums. It won a Juno Award for “Best Engineered Album” and a Canadian Music Critics award for “Best Album” in 1977.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hope_(Klaatu_album)

What Color is Your Cleansuit“For though my race was thought immune
Themselves they did consume
So be warned or be mourned tomorrow
And from your deafness do desist
And pray take heed of this
For your present course can only end in sorrow…”

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ELP – “Jerusalem”

Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP)
Jerusalem
Brain Salad Surgery
November 19, 1973
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“The track features the debut of the prototype Moog Apollo, the first-ever polyphonic synthesizer. Jerusalem was ELP’s take on a famous British hymn sung in schools and played in The Royal Albert Hall in England. The lyrics are taken from William Blake’s ‘And did those feet…’. This famous poem based in parts on the once widely believed English legend of Jesus Christ’s visit to Glastonbury, escorted by Joseph Of Arimathato, after his ministry in ancient Palestine. The subject matter of this song indicates a nod to ELP’s unabashed englishness and simultaneously lends an air of timeless tradition and ceremony to the music. But Jerusalem was banned in England on the radio when it was issued as a single. The BBC would not accept it as a serious piece of music. The single fails to chart and was not released in the US.” (http://www.brain-salad-surgery.de/jerusalem.html)

Milton by William Blake (excerpt from preface)
And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
on England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of Fire!

I will not cease from mental fight;
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand!
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

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Rush – “Red Barchetta”

Rush – “Red Barchetta”
Moving Pictures
February 12, 1981

“The song describes a future in which many classes of vehicles have been prohibited by “the Motor Law”. The narrator’s uncle has kept one of these illegal vehicles (the titular red barchetta sportscar) in pristine condition for some “fifty-odd years” and keeps it hidden at his secret country home (previously a farm before the enactment of the aforementioned Motor Law). During one of his weekly drives, the narrator encounters an “alloy air car” that begins to chase him along the roads. A second such vehicle soon joins the pursuit, which continues until the narrator drives his Barchetta across a one-lane bridge that is too narrow for the air cars. The song ends with the narrator returning safely to his uncle’s farm.

The song was inspired by the futuristic short story “A Nice Morning Drive”, by Richard Foster and published in the November 1973 issue of Road and Track magazine. The story describes a similar future in which increasingly stringent safety regulations have forced cars to evolve into massive Modern Safety Vehicles (MSVs), capable of withstanding a 50-mile-per-hour impact without injury to the driver. Consequently, drivers of MSVs have become less safety-conscious and more aggressive, and “bouncing” (intentionally ramming) the older, smaller cars is a common sport among some.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Barchetta)

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