Days of Future Passed

Stick with me folks; this one is a doozy!


File Attribute by Source, Fair use:

The Moody Blues’ 1967 concept album, cryptically named Days of Future Passed, has been my favorite album for almost 50 years. It includes “orchestral interludes by the London Festival Orchestra. The band and the orchestra only actually play together during the last part of Nights In White Satin.” [source: Wikipedia]. Nominally, it traces the course of one day; metaphorically, it traces the course of one’s life.

I spent way too much time in my life thinking and feeling about the past or worrying about the future. About 10 years ago I decided to stop listening to the music of the 60’s and 70’s, because the lyrics kept dragging me back to past memories. In recent years, I’ve learned to live mostly in the present moment, mostly due to my Qi Gong mentor, John.

One effect of the anti-depressant I’m on is that it’s vividly bringing back deeply-buried memories. This time, I’m trying to pay more attention to them in order to understand myself better. My older brother Bill is arriving tomorrow for a visit; I’m hoping to get his help reconstructing lost childhood memories.

One curious example of this: Two years ago I decided that what backpacking and overnight paddling trips need is some sort of philosophical reading around the campfire at night, and perhaps upon arising in the morning as well. Last night, at our local Outings Committee meeting, I proposed that outing leaders consider doing something like that on every backpacking trip. They adopted that as a recommendation. (my example is below).

But here’s the curious part: Just an hour go, a memory came back to me: My father used to do that on Boy Scout trips! During WWII, he had been stationed on Sheyma in the Aleutian Islands, very close to Russia:

Shemya Island

He was a big fan of the poet Robert W. Service, who wrote about Alaska. Around the campfire, he would recite a very long poem by heart (and with heart): The Shooting of [Dangerous] Dan McGrew. I still can’t recite the last stanza without choking-up:

These are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I ought to know.
They say that the stranger was crazed with “hooch,” and I’m not denying it’s so.
I’m not so wise as the lawyer guys, but strictly between us two —
The woman that kissed him and — pinched his poke — was the lady that’s known as Lou.

Bill just called (synchronicity!). He says he has a copy of that poem that was cut out of the Hobo News – likely in the ’30’s!

So, I owe my interest in campfire philosophy to my father, but I had forgotten that!

Both album passages are spoken-word poems written by drummer Graeme Edgespoken by keyboardist Mike Pinder. I’m listing the evening passage first, since it’s the first on read on a trip.

My evening campfire passage is heard near the six-minute mark of the album version of the song Nights in White Satin (written by lead singer Justin Hayward at age 19); it is called “Late Lament.”  On Days of Future Passed, the poem’s last stanza brackets the album, appearing also at the end of track 1 (“The Day Begins”). Here is Late Lament:

Breathe deep the gathering gloom;
Watch lights fade from every room.

Bedridden people look back and lament;
Another day’s useless energy spent.

Impassioned lovers wrestle as one;
Lonely man cries for love and has none.

New mother picks up and suckles her son;
Senior citizens wish they were young.

Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colours from our sight;
Red is grey and yellow white;
But we decide which is right,
And which is an illusion!

My morning campfire passage: About four minutes into the song “The Day Begins” features a poem which is known as “Morning Glory.” Morning Glory initiates the “everyman’s day” concept of the album:

Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colours from our sight;
Red is grey and yellow – white;
But we decide which is right,
And which is an illusion!

Pinprick holes in a colourless sky,
Let inspired figures of light pass by.

The mighty light of ten thousand suns
Challenges infinity and is soon gone.

Night time, to some a brief interlude,
To others the fear of solitude.

Brave Helios: Wake up your steeds!
Bring the warmth the countryside needs!

Here’s a printable copy of my Campfire passages: Late Lament.

Health Update: I received by 12th radiation treatment today, and my third chemo treatment. Here I am getting chemo:


Still tolerating the chemo


5 thoughts on “Days of Future Passed

  1. Your blog is wonderfully written. Came across it thru a post from your brother Bob who I went to RHS with. Have enjoyed reading many Robert Service poems over the past few days. Have read & re-read Jack London for 40 years how could I have never read Service. Thanks so much. Thoughts and prayers from Y&. STAY STRONG.

    • Thanks! Here’s a little something to think about: did you ever wonder what that last line in Dangerous Dan McGrew was about? I looked it up the word “poke” the other day. It turns out the poke was his little sack of gold. And she while was tenderly kissing her former lover, she was gently relieving him of the sack of gold that he had no further need for. That’s how things went down in Alaska!

  2. Hey Doug. We’ve been thinking about you a lot and have been praying for you. We send positive vibes to you from across the street. Moody Blues huh? My (Sharon’s ) all time favorite group. Hugs to you and Jen. Sharon & Mike

    • Thanks for the sentiments, Mike! I’m glad to hear that Sharon is a fellow Moody Blues fan. We will have to get together and have a Moody Blues night together. So many wonderful songs and a time when I needed inspiration! How are you fixed for White Satin sheets?

  3. Pingback: my dad’s favorite album – muck called gold

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