Learning to live

Images and words, remains as the spectrum of the musical genius of Dream Theater. Released in 1992, it transcends the then musical scene, bringing in unusual structure in rhythm and riffs. Rightly so, a chaos in motion, and like many other modern day worshipers of metal, I consider it as a seminal release in the progressive metal scene. Learning to live, the very last track in the album, is a true rainbow of the caliber of Labrie, Petrucci, Moore, Myung and Portnoy. Not something like the smash radio hit Pull me under, but its more of a diverse trend, a true transition into the mastery of 90's metal.

Myung's lyrics apparently touches upon the theme of catastrophe of HIV AIDS and similar epidemics, from an emotional standpoint. The opening lines of the song, is a direct paraphrase of lines from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. "There was no time for pain, no energy for anger. Sightlessness of hatred slips away." is directly lifted from "He had no time for pain, no energy for anger. Within a few weeks, it was over; the blinding stabs of hatred ceased and did not return." (p.211 of the Centennial Edition). Next few lines , "Walking through winter streets along, he stops and takes a breath, with confidence and self-control," are also similar to the next few sentences in the book.

It took me a while, to enter into the realms of this song. The length of this song, wasn't the major reason, but its unusual structure demands time from the listener to get accustomed to. And once it hits you inside, it seldom leaves. At times, its heavy, the next moment it turns spacey, makes one difficult to grip. Its subtle, bears the generic cynicism of the band. Starting at 4:45, Labrie stops singing, and the instrumentation takes over. At approximately 6:58, he begins singing wordlessly, building up to a very high note that coincides with the song's main climax. This note is the highest note of any Dream Theater song ever written, being the F# under soprano C. There are many solos in the album, the most striking being that of Petrucci's which starts kicking at 8:10, leading up to the monumental climax of the song. There are very few solos in the following years of Petrucci, that can level up to such splendour. Kevin Moore's notes were as impeccable as ever, and brings out his dimensions, as one treads from the jazzy classic notes of Wait for sleep to this number. Once you have heard the end solo, I'm sure you'll feel like skipping ahead through the song, into the magic of Petrucci.