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Dream Theater - A Change of Seasons
January 15, 2010
"A Change of Seasons" is the first track from the EP "A Change of Seasons" by United States progressive metal band Dream Theater. It is a metal suite with lyrics written by drummer Mike Portnoy and is the band's fourth longest song, behind "Octavarium" (24 minutes), "In the Presence of Enemies" (25 minutes, 38 seconds), and "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" (42 minutes, 4 seconds).
According to Portnoy's answer to a question in his website FAQ:
"Basically, I took a lot of personal incidents, like losing my mother and a couple of things that happened in my life, and I wrote them into the lyrics. Like, on a smaller scale, I wouldn't try to compare it with this, but when I listen to Pink Floyd's The Wall, there are a lot of emotions there - just a lot of frustrations and anger. He goes full circle, the character. He has a child and just as he's about to pass on and die, now his son is going to have to live the life he did and go through those same experiences."
This song is often considered Dream Theater's magnum opus, along with Metropolis Pt.1: The Miracle and the Sleeper, showing their ability not only to compose and play their instruments, but also their lyrical maturity.
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.
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.
James LaBrie, vocals
John Myung, bass
John Petrucci, Guitars
Mike Portnoy, drums, percussion