While Pat wrote a song of a young nuclear scientist and his rich future, listening audiences heard a graduation theme song

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Rejection of commercial licensing


The former members of Timbuk 3 have refused to license the song for commercials, including a $900,000 offer from AT&T and offers from Ford, the U.S. Army, and Bausch & Lomb for their Ray-Ban sunglasses.

The Future’s So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades) Timbuk 3 (1986)

Lyrics


I study nuclear science
I love my classes
I got a crazy teacher, he wears dark glasses
Things are going great, and they’re only getting better
I’m doing all right, getting good grades
The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades


I’ve got a job waiting for my graduation
Fifty thou a year — buys a lot of beer
Things are going great, and they’re only getting better
I’m doing all right, getting good grades
The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades

Well I’m heavenly blessed and worldly wise
I’m a peeping-tom techie with x-ray eyes
Things are going great, and they’re only getting better
I’m doing all right, getting good grades
The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades
I study nuclear science
I love my classes

I got a crazy teacher, he wears dark glasses
Things are going great, and they’re only getting better
I’m doing all right, getting good grades
The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades, I gotta wear shades

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Patrick McDonald

Background

The inspiration for the song, and the title specifically, came when Barbara MacDonald said to her husband singer/songwriter Pat MacDonald, “The future is looking so bright, we’ll have to wear sunglasses!” But, while Barbara had made the comment in earnest – it was the early ’80s, the two had met and married and were starting a family, their first EP was coming, their book was filling up with gigs – Pat heard the comment as an ironic quip and wrote down instead, “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.”[2]


From there, the lyrics to the song were born, but not the song as it ended up in the minds of popular culture. While Pat wrote a song of a young nuclear scientist and his rich future,[2] listening audiences heard a graduation theme song.


Pat revealed on VH1’s 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s that the meaning of the song was widely misinterpreted as a positive perspective in regard to the near future. Pat somewhat clarified the meaning by stating that it was, contrary to popular belief, a “grim” outlook. While not saying so directly, he hinted at the idea that the bright future was in fact due to impending nuclear holocaust. The “job waiting” after graduation signified the demand for nuclear scientists to facilitate such events. Pat drew upon the multitude of past predictions which transcend several cultures that foreshadow the world ending in the 1980s, along with the nuclear tension at the height of the Cold War to compile the song.


Two verses were written more explicitly portraying the ironic intent of the song. One went:

Well I’m well aware of the world out there,
getting blown all to bits, but what do I care?
The other referred to a supporter of Ronald Reagan as “a flaming fascist”. However, they were omitted from the final recording because MacDonald felt they were too heavy-handed and obvious.[3] When they performed the song on The Joan Rivers Show in 1989, the third verse they sang was similar to the former omitted verse.


Similarly, the group’s EP Looks Like Dark to Me contains a slower version of the song with an additional verse, making clear the dark nature of the song’s intent:


Blowin’ up the lab,
Blowin’ the professor,
Torn between two evils,
I always pick the lesser.

That same EP’s title track also refers back to this song: The future’s been bright for so long now, it looks like dark to me.


The song was the group’s only major hit, reaching number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 14 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart.[4] Additionally, the song reached number 21 on the UK Singles Chart. Wiki.

WE&P by: EZorrilla.

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