Maybe It’s Only Yesterday…

July 16, 2019

Zager & Evans.jpgThis song, which charted as number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 the third week of July in 1969, stayed in the top spot for six weeks that summer.  It portrayed a Dystopian future which, one might argue, was just too downer a message for the ‘make love, not war’ crowd of the decade.

In The Year 2525 was destined to become a “one hit wonder.”

When one looks at the events of 1969, is it any surprise this song captured the imagination of a country that a week later witnessed two men walk on the moon? Technology, it seemed, had no limits and it was just a matter of time before robots usurped humans and the reign of homo-sapiens would end.

From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“‘In the Year 2525’ opens with an introductory verse explaining that if humanity has survived to that point, it would witness the subsequent events in the song. Subsequent verses pick up the story at 1,010-year intervals from 3535 to 6565. In each succeeding millennium, life becomes increasingly sedentary and automated: thoughts are pre-programmed into pills for people to consume, machines take over all work, resulting in eyes, teeth, and limbs losing their purposes, and marriage becomes obsolete since children are conceived in test tubes. Then the pattern as well as the music changes, going up a half step in the key of the song (chromatic modulation), after two stanzas, first from A-flat minor, to A minor.

For the final three millennia, now in B flat minor, the tone of the song turns apocalyptic: the year 7510 marks the date by which the Second Coming will have happened, and the Last Judgment occurs one millennium later. By 9595, with the song now in B minor, the Earth becomes completely depleted of resources, potentially resulting in the death of all life.

The song ends in the year 10,000. By that time, humanity has become extinct. But the song notes that in another solar system (or universe), the scenarios told in the song may still be playing out, as the beginning of the song repeats and the recording fades out.

The overriding theme, of a world doomed by its passive acquiescence to and over-dependence on its own overdone technologies, struck a resonant chord in millions of people around the world in the late 1960’s.  The song was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart during the Apollo 11 moon landing.”

decca record 2525.jpgThe song was written by Rick Evans, one half of the duo of (Denny) Zager and Evans. One remarkable fact about the song is that it is the only song (still true 50 years later) which reached number one on both the US and UK music charts.

Over the past weekend I had the opportunity to see my two older brothers and asked each separately if they knew what one hit wonder was the number one song for mid July 1969. I expected my brother the disc jockey would get it and he did.

It was my older brother, who turned 21 that summer, who took but a moment to consider the question and responded not with the song title but with the name of the artist. Which is quite rare. So often we know the song but not who recorded it. He waxed poetic for a few minutes about how great the music of the late 1960’s was and what an impression it made on an entire generation.

As for me – not yet really listening to the popular music of the day – the song was inescapable. I know I heard it when it came on the radio as well as when my brother played it on his reel to reel tape deck.  As someone on the verge of her teen years, I spent considerable time contemplating the lyrics and it marked my questioning ‘who am I and what am I doing here?’ The world they imagined for the year 2525 and beyond was not a place I wanted to live and I found it all very depressing.

Fast forward to today and although computers, robots, and drones are now part of our world it would seem as though people spend more time now working on personal care and fitness, unwilling to become the lifeless blobs imagined. And that is a good thing.

As a work of fiction, In the Year 2525, serves as a cautionary tale. But don’t take my word for it… copy the link to your browser, watch the video, and enjoy the trip back to the Year 1969 when earthlings went to the moon and the world paused to imagine the future.



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