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Current Favorite Song: A Change of Seasons [Dream Theater]

Posted January 14th, 2013 at 6:17 PM by Sir Codin
Updated January 14th, 2013 at 6:23 PM by Sir Codin

I've been listening to this song all day long for quite a while now and I'm convinced it is perhaps one of my favorite songs ever.

It's called A Change of Seasons by the progressive metal band Dream Theater. Don't let the length of the song or the "metal" tag dissuade you; it's a brilliantly crafted piece of musicianship and among the best songs the band has ever written.

The song is a 23-minute long epic split into seven parts, three of which are insturmentals: The Crimson Sunrise, Innocence, Carpe Diem, The Darkest of Winters, Another World, The Inevitable Summer, The Crimson Sunset. I've included an explanation behind each part in the following spoiler:
The Crimson Sunrise (00:00 - 03:50)

The opening of the suite with a funeral-like solo guitar playing a musical theme, which is slowly built upon by the other instruments, eventually climaxing in a stormy mixture led by the guitar and keyboard. It is related to fall, in which we can find those "crimson" colors; especially in sunrises and sunsets, recurring themes in the piece of music.

Innocence (03:50 - 06:54)
We are introduced to a character and his past life, his childhood and how it has changed since, how the days of discovery and happiness 'were gone now'. The change from a joyful character into a depressed, lonely man is echoed in his belief that 'the end is drawing near'.

Carpe Diem (06:54 - 10:08)
A solemn, melancholic movement, its lyrics deal with the idea of 'Seize the Day'. The character recalls how meaningful words he heard before had affected his way of living. He (supposing the character is a man) was taught to "seize the day", by someone, and that he should "cherish your life while you're [he's] still around". However, he expresses doubt for such hope and appreciation, as we never know what the future may hold.

Portnoy's high school teacher once held an entire lesson about the quite "Carpe Diem" - Seize the day, take nothing for granted, and said to the students that they should go home and let the ones they love, know they loved them. This is exactly what Portnoy did. Him and his mother had had a fight earlier, and as Portnoy came home, she was about to leave town. Portnoy's mother died in an airplane crash, that very night, and if it wasn't for Mike's high school teacher, he and his mother would not have made up before her death. The "Carpe Diem" themes in A Change Of Seasons are rooted from here.[2]

Quotes from the Robert Herrick poem "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time" can be found in here.
At the end, the character enters a process of awakening, but is met by the demise of a loved one.

The Darkest of Winters (10:08 - 13:01)

Another World (13:01 - 16:59)
The character is placed in spring, he feels very far from the past, so many things have happened; he feels the need to give up in life, alone, and says that he had an idea of how he would like life to be, but this dream only caused him suffering, when he found out that it is impossible to have it.

Near the end of this movement, an angrier and stronger character is found, in lyrics talking about hypocrisy, life changes, and rejection, and eventually deciding that he 'won't let them push (him) away'.

The Inevitable Summer (16:59 - 20:12)

The Crimson Sunset (20:12 - 23:06)
The character is placed watching the sunset with his son. The Character looks upon all the bad and good experiences in his life and how they equipped him for struggles later in life. The Character then says good-bye to his son, telling him to 'seize the day' and to move on, not to cry, and that he 'will live on', despite death. In the very end, the same funeral-like guitar solo from the beginning can be heard, meaning that his son's life is just beginning.

I'm not normally a person who pays much attention to lyrics; I'm more of an instrumental-oriented listener, I consider vocals of any kind (be they singing to screaming to death growling) to be just another 'instrument', with lyrics being part of the notes. But these lyrics are some of the most beautiful, relating, and moving I have ever read and James LaBrie really brings them to life. Here they are in this spoiler tag, in case you feel like reading along with the song (should you have the courage and patience to listen to the entire thing):

I. The Crimson Sunrise

II. Innocence
I remember a time
My frail, virgin mind
watched the crimson sunrise
Imagined what it might find
Life was filled with wonder
I felt the warm wind blow
I must explore the boundaries
Transcend the depth of winter's snow
Innocence caressing me
I never felt so young before
There was so much life in me
Still I longed to search for more
But those days are gone now
Changed like a leaf on a tree
Blown away forever
into the cool autumn breeze
The snow has now fallen
and my sun's not so bright
I struggle to hold on
with the last of my might
In my den of inequity
viciousness and subtlety
struggle to ease the pain
struggle to find the sane
Ignorance surrounding me
I've never been so filled with fear
All my life's been drained from me
The end is drawing near....

III. Carpe Diem
'Carpe diem, seize the day'
I'll always remember
The chill of November
The news of the fall
The sounds in the hall
The clock on the wall ticking away
'Seize the Day'
I heard him say
Life will not always be this way
Look around
Hear the sounds
Cherish your life while you're still around

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying."

We can learn from the past
But those days are gone
We can hope for the future
But there may not be one
The words stuck in my mind
alive from what I've learned
I have to seize the day
To home I returned
Preparing for her flight
I held with all my might
Fearing my deepest fright
She walked into the night
She turned for one last look
She looked me in the eye
I said, 'I Love You...Good-bye'

"It's the most awful thing you'll
ever hear."
"If you're lying to me..."
"Oh, you dearly love her."
"...just have to leave... all our lives."
"Seize the day!"
"Something happened.
"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may."
"She was killed."

IV. The Darkest of Winters

V. Another World
So far or so it seems
All is lost with nothing fulfilled
Off the pages and a T.V. screen
Another world where nothing's true
Tripping through the life fantastic
Lose a step and never get up
Left alone with a cold blank stare
I feel like giving up
I was blinded by a paradise
Utopia high in the sky
A dream that only drowned me
Deep in sorrow, wondering why
Oh come let us adore him
Abuse and then ignore him
No matter what, don't let him be
Let's feed upon his misery
Then string him up for all the world to see
I'm sick of all you hypocrites
holding me at bay
And I don't need your sympathy
to get me through the day
Seasons change and so can I
Hold on boy, No time to cry
Untie these strings, I'm climbing down
I won't let them push me away
Oh come let us adore him
Abuse and then ignore him
No matter what, don't let him be
Let's feed upon his misery
Now it's time for them to deal with me

VI. The Inevitable Summer

VII. The Crimson Sunset
I'm much wiser now
A lifetime of memories
run through my head
They taught me how
for better or worse, alive or dead
I realize there's no turning back
Life goes on the offbeaten track
I sit down with my son
Set to see the Crimson Sunset
(Gather ye rosebuds while ye may)
Many years have come and gone
I've lived my life, but now must move on
(Gather ye rosebuds while ye may)
He is my only one
Now that my time has come
Now that my life is done
We look into the sun
'Seize the day and don't you cry,
Now it's time to say good-bye
Even though I'll be gone,
I will live on, live on.'

Lyrics by Mike Portnoy (the band's former drummer)

Dream Theater is a truly amazing band and I recommend them greatly to anyone looking for some cool sounding prog-rock/metal. Even if you aren't into rock/metal, I still recommend giving these guys a listen or two. Here are some recommendations.

Album I highly recommend: Images & Words, Awake, and Metropolis Pt 2: Scenes from a Memory

If you want song recommendations other than this one, try Pull Me Under, Metropolis Pt 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper, Caught in a Web, Innocence Faded, The Mirror, Overture 1924, Strange Deja Vu, Through Her Eyes, Home, Dance of Eternity, The Glass Prison, Blind Faith, The Great Debate, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, As I Am, Panic Attack, Sacrificed Sons, Forsaken, Constant Motion.
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  1. Old Comment
    Kura's Avatar
    Yeah Change of Seasons has been one of my favourite by far from Dream Theater. I also really like Octivarium. A lot of people think that one's boring, but I really like it :3
    Posted January 15th, 2013 at 4:50 AM by Kura Kura is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Sir Codin's Avatar
    Originally Posted by Kura View Comment
    Yeah Change of Seasons has been one of my favourite by far from Dream Theater. I also really like Octivarium. A lot of people think that one's boring, but I really like it :3
    Eh, the first several minutes or so are boring, then it gets to the good stuff.

    I especially love at the end where James LaBrie is just shouting "TRAPPED INSIDE THIS OCTAVARIUM" as loud as he possibly can.
    Posted January 15th, 2013 at 11:23 AM by Sir Codin Sir Codin is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Kura's Avatar
    Yeah he sings it pretty high, too. I just find it's really good music just to put in the background like on the train or while you're studying or just.. relaxing, you know?
    Posted January 15th, 2013 at 12:04 PM by Kura Kura is offline

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