Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed, and a Reflection on the New Age Idea

This is the last in the series of music videos from music alluded to in the novel The Ten Weeks. But it’s not a video: it’s a more prosaic “photo and sound clip” combo from a scene in the book combined with a brief excerpt from the Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed.

This album is, IMHO, the best fusion of rock and symphonic music to come out of the 1960’s and 1970’s.  There were others that tried the same thing, and then there were those who performed classical music in a rock way (like Emerson, Lake and Palmer.)  But none of them quite pulled it off the way the Moodies did in on this album.

Below: the starry scene from the novel (with the planets conveniently annotated.)  You can click on the image for the audio clip, which comes from the first part of the album.

“Look over there,” Alicia blankly replied, pointing in the direction she was facing. “There’s Mercury just above the horizon.” She moved her pointing hand upward. “There’s Venus. Up from that is Jupiter. Star charts say that Neptune is just next to Venus, and Uranus is further up in the sky from that.”

“‘Pinprick holes in a colourless sky/Let insipid figures of light pass by…’” Vannie recalled. She turned to Alicia. “You came up here just to see that?” (p. 197)

Thoughts on the Album, and the New Age Idea

Although released in 1967, I didn’t get this in my collection until 1974.  It’s always been an album that appealed the most in times when things weren’t going well (for a Christian album that serves a similar purpose, click here.)  That’s not an accident; Days of Future Passed is a very strong expression of what has come to be called “New Age philosophy,” more so than even the more explicit In Search of the Lost Chord.  That deserves an explanation.

One leitmotif in G.K. Chesterton’s work is his idea that Eastern religions are basically pessimistic at heart, a giant sigh of despair.  It’s too bad that this album wasn’t out at the time, because it’s as powerful of an illustration of that as one could want.  The choice of using a day as the framework for the album, although seemingly benign, only adds to the gloom.  It implies that life is a giant cycle, that we are trapped in an inescapable round that, instead of centuries or aeons, only lasts 24 hours per course.  Transferred to the daily life of the urban and suburban 1960’s UK, and one longs for a Chestertonian characterisation.  The lyrics only add to the impression, including those in the audio clip.

“New Age” philosophy, which was most in vogue in the 1960’s but still very much influences our culture, is derived from Eastern religions, and specifically those of India.  For all of the happy face that many of its practitioners put on, it’s still a message of despair, that we’re trapped in a cyclical round and round we can’t get out of, not any time soon at least (I’m thinking about the reincarnation cycle.)  Happiness needs to have a stronger basis in fact than just raw “belief” or “positive thinking.”  It needs an objective that is real and attainable.

I think that one reason why people in places where religion such as this have been predominant are turning to Jesus Christ is that he offers them a way out of the cycle of despair, and he can do the same for you.

As I said at the start, this ends the series of music alluded to (or perhaps shouted out) in The Ten Weeks. I trust that you have enjoyed it and hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

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