Days of Future Passed Review
By Rachel Brown
In the late 60’s and early 70’s, progressive rock first found its niche. The experimental sounds of the genre escalated in popularity through the commercial success of bands like The Beatles, who broke into the rock arena with pop favorites like “Twist and Shout” but gradually expanded to edgier writing as confidence in their success grew. Soon songs like “Tomorrow Never Knows”, “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”, and “I Am the Walrus” were heralded as masterful works of musical art, opening the door for bands like Pink Floyd, Yes, and King Crimson. However, in this reviewer’s opinion, one of the greatest influences on progressive rock was none other than The Moody Blues, and more specifically their 1967 release, Days of Future Passed.
This album is unlike any you’ve ever heard before, merging the classical sounds of the London Festival Orchestra with intermittent rock tunes. Together, both the Blues and their accompaniment trace the happenings of an average day with songs like “Another Morning” and “Peak Hour”. The lush harmonies of the orchestra tie the record together in a pretty little bow, but the beauty of the music is contrasted by the sense of irony one gets upon delving deeper into the lyrics, which express frustration at the rather robotic behavior of society.
Interestingly enough, Days of Future Passed doesn’t follow one storyline. It displays the ordinary events of people in every walk of life: children, businessmen, even lovers. So while “Another Morning” highlights children playing at recess, “Nights in White Satin” exhibits the passionate embrace of lovers in the dark. The music itself also reflects the activities in the lyrics, from the hurried tune of “Peak Hour” that reflects the hustle and bustle of the work force to the lazy melody of “Tuesday Afternoon” that personifies the languid pace of a quiet evening.
Perhaps the most beautiful part of the album, however, is the poem that opens and closes the record. The words offer hope as the day begins but seem slightly ominous as the night comes to a close. In fact, the titles of the selections themselves offer the contrast between the two – “Morning Glory” and “Late Lament”. It’s almost as if, though the mood has shifted, the day itself is much the same at its end as it was at the start, reinforcing the Blues’ aggravation with the repetition of routine. Still, there is beauty to be found in the cyclicality of humanity, and the astounding thing about Days of Future Passed is that it simultaneously celebrates and rebukes normalcy.
Though best known for the song “Nights in White Satin”, which to this day is arguably The Moody Blues’ greatest hit, Days of Future Passed has so much more to offer. If you have never listened to the record in its entirety, there is no time like the present.