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The Great Debate

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The Great Debate
Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
Length 13:43
Working title Conflict at Ground Zero
Release date January 29th, 2002
Lyrics John Petrucci
Music Dream Theater
First live performance
Total live plays
Recorded Beartracks Studios
Other appearances Score (dvd) (bonus DVD), Graspop Festival 2002,
Previous song Misunderstood
Next song Disappear


The Great Debate is the fourth song on Dream Theater's sixth studio and only double album, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. At 13:43, it is the second longest song on the first disc, behind The Glass Prison.

Its original title, "Conflict at Ground Zero", was changed due to the 9/11 attacks, as the news reporters were referring to the site as "ground zero", and the band didn't want to associate the song with the attacks. However, they did later write Sacrificed Sons in 2005 about the victims of the attacks.

PersonnnelEdit

LyricsEdit

What if someone said
Promise lies ahead
Hopes are high in certain scientific circles
Life won't have to end
You could walk again

What if someone said
Problems lie ahead
They've uncovered something highly controversial
The right to life is strong
Can't you see it's wrong

Human kind has reached a turning point
Poised for conflict at ground zero
Ready for a war
Do we look to our unearthly guide
Or the white coat heroes
Searching for a cure

Turn to the light
Don't be frightened of the shadows it creates
Turn to the light
Turning away would be a terrible mistake

Anarchistic moral vision
Industries of death
Facing violent opposition
Unmolested breath

Ethic inquisitions breed
Antagonistic views
Right wing soundbyte premonitions
In a labyrinth of rules

Are you justified
Are you justified
Are you justified
Justified in taking
Life to save life
Life to save life
Life to save life

This embryonic clay
Wrapped in fierce debate
Would be thrown away
Or otherwise discarded

Some of us believe
It may hold the key
To treatment of disease
And secrets highly guarded

Are you justified
Are you justified
Are you justified
Justified in taking
Life to save life
Life to save life
Life to save life

Humankind has reached a turning point
Poised for conflict at ground zero
Ready for a war
Do we look to our unearthly guide
Or to white coat heroes
Searching for a cure

Turn to the light
Don't be frightened of the shadows it creates
Turn to the light
Turning away would be a terrible mistake

We're reaching
But have we gone too far

Harvesting existence
Only to destroy
Carelessly together
We are sliding

Someone else's future
Four days frozen still
Someone else's fate
We are deciding

Miracle potential
Sanctity of life
Faced against each other
We're divided

Should we push the boundaries
Or should we condemn
Moral guilt and science
Have collided

Turn to the light
We defy our own mortality these days
Turn to the light
Pay attention to the questions we have raised

ToneEdit

The Great Debate is a very progressive song, for example the extended intro in the time signature of 7/8. The song is also quite heavy, particularly the crunching main riff and the shouted chorus. It is strongly influenced by Tool, particularly their song "Forty Six & 2".

AnalysisEdit

It was written to give an overview of the issues surrounding stem cell research, but takes a non-partisan viewpoint. Rather it discusses both sides of the debate equally without coming to a conclusion. A good example of this is the first two stanzas, which are structurally very similar, but the first gives points for stem cell research, "Promise lies ahead" while the second gives points against it, "Problems lie ahead". During the intro, it also includes soundbites of people giving points on the topic, again from both sides of the argument. Interestingly, the left wing arguments come in through the left speaker and the right wing arguments from the right speaker.

Ambiguity is the most important part of this song, with the intro flooding the listener with fluttering keyboard riffs and voice clips, sort of clearing your mind of any existing bias towards the topic.

The last line, "Pay attention to the question we have raised" suggests that the listener should look into the debate themselves and find their own opinion instead of finding a conclusion within the song.

Other appearancesEdit

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