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Song lyrics for a better world

Transition Culture

29th June, 2009

In their new song 'Inaugural Trams', the Super Furry Animals capture a moment from a post carbon future

Regular readers will know that I am fascinated by the potential role of story as a way of enabling people to imagine themselves in a successfully transitioned world.  There has been less discussion about this in the context of songs.  It was my birthday the other day, so I treated myself to the new Super Furry Animals album, and on it is a song called ‘Inaugural Trams’, which, by my interpretation anyway, does just that.  Here it is….

Apart from being a great song, it also contains the following lyrics;

    It’s the first day of the integrated transport plans,
    Let us celebrate this monumental progress.
    We have reduced emisions by 75%
    It’s a magical day and it will be even better tomorrow,
    Let us make the best of a difficult situation.

(One person’s attempt at writing out the lyrics here).

So to me it reads like a song of celebration from a point in the future, say in 20 or 30 years, that has successfully managed to cut its emissions by 75%.  The mental picture it conjures up for me is of a town or city that has collectively embraced the challenge of climate change, has planned creatively and with the support and engagement of the population, and here they are, all out on the street celebrating the achievement of a three-quarters cut in emissions.  While their new trams are the focal point, there is also a sense of huge pride at the overall achievement, as well as a sense of optimism that “it will be even better tomorrow”.

What intrigues me, both in song and in story, is those examples that don’t say “what we should do is” or “why isn’t anyone”… but rather those that insert the reader/listener in a world that has already done it…. which this song does beautifully. That’s how I hear it anyway.  Might, of course, be about something completely different.  But it has put a spring in my step, and if you spend the way singing “we have reduced emissions by 75%” all day as a catchy refrain, then there’s a positive aspiration ticking away in the subconscious!  The rest of the album is pretty fine too…

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