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In the summer of my 12th year, 1969, to be exact, a song by the American pop-rock duo Zager and Evan reached the Billboard Hot 100. It was titled "In the Year 2525" and also hit number one in the U.K. Singles Chart later that summer. Zager and Evans are the only artists ever to have a No. 1 hit on both sides of the Atlantic and never have another single hit the charts ever again. They were the ultimate "one-hit wonder."

The song had a very rhythmic bass line with interesting, catchy chord changes. But it was the lyrics that intrigued me. The song speaks of life in the future starting in the year 2525, then each verse jumps ahead 1010 years or so with more statements on the human condition. The song concludes with the following verse:

Now it's been ten thousand years

Man has cried a billion tears

For what, he never knew, now man's reign is through

But through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight

So very far away, maybe it's only yesterday

The message is basically that Man wasted all the resources of Earth and killed the planet, but humans may have gone to another world and started over. Would they do the same to their new home or have they learned from their mistakes?

By today's song standards the lyrics may seem campy and even downright silly (but not as silly and saccharin as "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies, Song of the Year in 1969), but it actually reflected the despondency and nihilism prevalent in 1969. The movies "Planet of the Apes" and "2001: A Space Odyssey" had just been released. Apollo 11 would go to the moon just a few days after the song hit #1 in the charts. The U.S. was still involved in Vietnam, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy had been assassinated the year before, and racial tensions were high. The times were a little frightening to say the least. The future did look bleak.

I was well into science by then. I read science fiction voraciously. I tried to pick up that song on the radio every evening. I would lay in bed staring at the posters of the solar system pinned on the walls of my bedroom, running the lyrics through my head, trying to fathom some deeper understanding in the words. The song's outlook was rather dismal, but they made me visualize a future where humans had extended their senses with machines and took pills which helped their brains acquire more knowledge. I remember that the line "if woman can survive" worried me a bit. The song never would have made it on air in today's times!

The duo, Nebraskans Denny Zager and Rick Evans, recorded the song at a studio in an Odessa, Texas, cow pasture. It was recorded in one take with some members of the Odessa Symphony. Zager, now 74, still lives in Nebraska, where he makes custom guitars. Rick Evans, who actually wrote the song in 1964, is still alive but shuns the public spotlight. He does appear to spend a lot of time online diminishing Zager's contribution to the song. I guess the duo's breakup in 1971 still hits a nerve.

The younger generation would most likely laugh at such a song and its dystopian message. Go ahead, at least this music still makes me dream.

-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to devin.houston@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 08/08/2018

Print Headline: 2525: If man is still alive

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