The Eve of the War

I am not a fan of Hallowe’en music. There, I said it.

The day itself, I could take or leave, though I’ve had some fun over the years at a handful of costume parties, and enjoy seeing little ones in their cute costumes coming to the door for candy. 

Maybe some of my ambivalence is because of how Hallowe’en motifs recall childhood fear of the dark. But the feeling also could be something I gained from dear friends whose child died violently, and how themes mocking death and ghosts can be seen as making light of the very event that changed their lives forever.

On Hallowe’en in 1938, an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ 1898 novel The War of the Worlds was broadcast on radio, narrated by Orson Welles. Unconfirmed legend says that the radio broadcast incited panic among listeners who didn’t realize it was fictional.

In 1978, American-British composer Jeff Wayne released Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, a two-record set with a notebook of paintings on songs and themes from the musical. It included the hits “The Eve of the War” and the more famous “Forever Autumn,” which features former member of the Moody Blues Justin Hayward on the lead vocal. Richard Burton (1925-1984) narrated the album, which features some other huge names in rock, including David Essex (“Rock On”), Phil Lynott (1949-1986; lead singer of Thin Lizzy), Jo Partridge (who played guitar on Kiki Dee’s hit, “I’ve Got the Music in Me“), Chris Thompson (formerly of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, and singer of “Blinded by the Light”), and actor/singer Julie Covington (who made a hit version of “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina”). 

I bought the album and played it a fair bit, though my friends at the time were not very interested in it. I recently thought of it when sitting in the summer porch, talking with one of my brothers on the phone this summer. He spoke about Lynott and Thin Lizzy after seeing my post on “The Boys Are Back in Town.” Brother and I agreed it is a fabulous album, and today he recommended setting aside time to listen to the whole work at once.

Fast forward to today: it’s still a scary world, not just for what we see, but what we don’t see… like the infinitesimal virus that threatens the world, especially those of us aged 60 and over. In The War of the Worlds, the alien invaders are eventually killed off, not by humankind, but by earthly germs. Let’s not fall victim to the same fate.

Whatever you do today, be safe, not scary.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from The War of the Worlds VEVO/YouTube channel

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