The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday (1988)
I have a terrible habit of putting things off, and I don't even mean work or responsibilities - I mean everything. I have movies that I meant to watch, albums that I've meant to listen to, books that I've meant to read and video games I've meant to play that number in the thousands - things I have put off for not just weeks or months, but years and decades. Part of this is that I'm extremely forgetful and I just don't think of it when I have the time, and part of it is that I'm very easily distracted, so it's hard to pay attention when I do finally settle in to check something off of my list. Eh, I''m a mess.
With that in mind, people who were familiar with my taste in music have recommended Phish to me when I was in high school, which was over 20 years ago. At some point in the past decade, I made a playlist on my iPod to check out some of their stuff, which was promptly forgotten. Earlier today at work, I stumbled on it and decided to give it a listen. Included in this was The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday - an incredibly creative concept album that completely blew me away.
In the ten minutes of research I've done, I've learned that this was Trey Anastasio's senior project when he was working towards a bachelor degree at Goddard College. It's a story that includes songs broken by spoken narrative segments.
The story may seem a little silly on the surface, but there's a lot going on here. My take is that it's about acceptance of a dark reality and adaptation to that reality. Throughout human history, we have had kings, politicians, cult leaders and clergy who have adapted to the vulnerabilities of their fellow man and who use the gods and mythologies of their era to help themselves at the expense of others. It's the dark side of evolution: for every creature that adapts and thrives, it does so at the expense of those who do not. The frog who has evolved to have poisonous skin thrives and passes those traits onto their offspring with no regard for those who have no such protection, or for who their poison skin comes into contact with. The story presents this in the framework of "good" and "evil", and that "evil" is essentially just an acceptance that someone or something is going to seize power at the expense of others, and it might as well be you. The trick is to surrender to the flow.