Shineanthology’s Weblog

An anthology of optimistic, near future SF

Music that makes you feel optimistic, part 4

When we were driving home last May 31 from a Jon Oliva’s Pain gig (my brother, his wife, a good friend and me), my brother put Journey’s “Frontiers” in the CD player.

Journey Frontiers

It struck me that the CD’s (well, it was an album back in the days) final two songs were about hope, moving forward and finding new frontiers.

To quote:

Out on the border

Of a changing skyline

We put hope in front of fear

And all the heroes

Have gone East of Eden

We all need new frontiers

(“Frontiers” from, well, Frontiers)

This was in the early eighties: financial crisis, cold war at its height, Reaganomics, Falkland War (I almost wrote Flakland War, which would define internet flame wars quite nicely…;-) and the Afghanistan conflict, and what did one of the top-selling bands(*) sing about? (Well, apart from love & relationships, obviously) Hope and a brighter future.


Make a move across the Rubicon

Futures knockin’ at your door

Take your time

And choose the road you want

Opportunity is yours

(“Rubicon”, also from Frontiers)

And the Journey covers were full-on SF, by the way, just check the Frontiers one above, and the Escape one below:

Journey Escape
By sheer coincidence, two of the top 5 top-grossing movies of this year — so far — are Up and the refurbished Star Trek. Who are both unashamedly positive and upbeat, and that in a time of — see above — financial crisis, the war on terror, Guantanamo Bay fallouts, the Iraq occupancy and the ongoing Afghanistan conflict.
In the meantime, written SF releases dystopia upon doomsday book upon Ragnarök upon gotterdämmerung, and keeps on wondering why it’s getting more and more marginalised. Or one could approach SF from the optimistic side, and join the majority of the world.
(*) Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is still the best selling album of all time, but in 1983 Journey’s “Frontiers” stadium tour sold more tickets than Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” tour.


  Luke Jackson wrote @

I hear Journey, I think the Sopranos finale. Which doesn’t leave me feeling that optimistic anymore.

  gillian wrote @

What a wonderful – and clever! – initiative to join articles about music in this blog,which is about optimism! There is nothing as positive and upbeat as music. Music – whatever kind of music – has a particular way to “talk”into the heart of people.
A few days back, I had a strange and very interesting experience. Some people post in the twitter new or old music. I listened to these and was surprised to discover that new horizons were opened into my mind, an experience quite similar to what is described here. Those people posted music that I do not listen to, normally. And I discovered that this music was beautiful, uplifting and it made me feel good.
Thanks to one of the posts, I discovered Velvet Underground, an old group producing extraordinary songs. I may seem ignorant, but I knew nothing of this group. I loved their songs and I spent quite a long time listening to them, especially to the awesome “Sunday Morning” and I had the feeling that I was transported into a dream world.
The second discovery was Mister Willem Maker . This is a wonderful song; it had something uplifting and it had a way to fill you with much positive energy. I think sincerely that it is worth to follow the suggestion of the person who posted the song, ” go and give the guy a listen”. You will not regret it. Well, in any case, I didn’t.
Now, a last word about a music of a completely different kind. In the article, there is question about “written SF releases dystopia upon doomsday book upon Ragnarök upon gotterdämmerung. ” Honestly, those subjects, coming of Scandinavian mythology and concerning the end of the world could not easily be used in a positive or upbeat work.
There is, nevertheless, a man, who was able to use them in some positive – and relatively optimistic – context. This man was a musician : Richard Wagner. In his huge opera “The Ring of the Niebelungen”, Richard Wagner uses the Gotterdammerung (=the fall of ancient Scandinavian Gods) to criticize hypocrisy and excessive concessions for social purposes. In Wagner’s philosophy, the Fall of the Gods is the way for men to take their own responsibilities, have the courage to take their own decisions without any moral oppressions from any kind of religion. The Fall of the ancient Gods and the destruction of the world would result in the rebirth of a better, more self-conscious world, a world were the humankind would be free and people would be able to follow their own path.
Wagner has often been contested for different reasons, most of them quite unfair. He was a genius, an idealist hoping a better future for humankind and had a very difficult life defending his free, quite rebellious philosophy. He was not responsible of the use of his work the Nazis ; Wagner was dead at that period. And I doubt that a free minded artist like him, would have supported Hitler’s atrocities. Wagner was banned from his own country because he defended people who fought against oppressive kings. How could he have defended a dictatorial regime?
Anyway, the man was a genius and his music is wonderful and grandiose. AND optimistic, so as everything defending freedom of the mind.
And some people pretend that Wagner’s music was the predecessor of hard rock…

  gillian wrote @

To Luke Jackson/by Gillian:
Which opera are you listening to?
The last one I saw was the “Meditation de Thais”. It did not make me feel very optimistic either.
The friends with whom I went there LOVED the opera. I was bored…
Sorry for the bad time you had. Everybody has his tastes in music; if you happen to listen to whatever you don’t like, even if it is a masterpiece, it makes you feel VERY negative.

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