The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades ~ Timbuk 3

Timbuk3 was an American alternative pop band formed in 1984 by the husband and wife team of Pat MacDonald (acoustic, electric, bass and MIDI guitars, harmonica, vocals, drum programming) and Barbara K. MacDonald (electric guitar, mandolin, violin, rhythm programming, vocals).

The duo began playing together in Madison, Wisconsin. Initially they performed live as a duo backed up by a large boombox. This boombox technique, unique at the time, represented a transition in music, and its public popularity set the stage for backtracking and samplers becoming common place techniques still used today.

Timbuk3 was signed by I.R.S. Records after appearing on an episode of MTV’s The Cutting Edge in 1986. Soon after, they released their first album, Greetings from Timbuk3.  They were joined in 1991 by Wally Ingram and Courtney Audain.  The group broke up in 1995, with the ex-members going on to record other music independently.

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

The inspiration for the song, and the title specifically, came when Barbara K. MacDonald said to her partner and husband Pat MacDonald “The future is looking so bright, we’ll have to wear sunglasses!” But, while Barbara had made the comment in earnest — it was the early ’80s, the two had met and married and were starting a family, their first EP was coming, their book was filling up with gigs — Pat heard the comment as an ironic quip and wrote down instead, “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.”

From there, the lyrics to the song were born, but not the song as it ended up in the minds of popular culture. While Pat wrote a song of a youthful nuclear scientist and his monied future, listening audiences heard a graduation theme song.

Pat revealed on VH1′s “100 Greatest One-hit Wonders of the ’80s” list that the meaning of the song was widely misinterpreted as a positive perspective in regard to the near future. Pat somewhat clarified the meaning by stating that it was, contrary to popular belief, a “grim” outlook. While not saying so directly, he hinted at the idea that the bright future was in fact due to impending nuclear holocaust. The “job waiting” after graduation signified the demand for nuclear scientists to facilitate such events. Pat drew upon the multitude of past predictions which transcend several cultures that foreshadow the world ending in the 1980s, along with the nuclear tension at the height of the cold war to compile the song.

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades – Pat McDonald

I study nuclear science
I love my classes
I got a crazy teacher
He wears dark glasses

Things are goin’ great
And they’re only gettin’ better
I’m doin’ all right
Gettin’ good grades
The future’s so bright
I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades

I got a job waitin’
For my graduation
50 thou a year
will buy a lotta beer

Things are goin’ great
And they’re only gettin’ better
I’m doin’ all right
Gettin’ good grades
The future’s so bright
I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades

Well I’m heavenly blessed
And worldly wise
I’m a peeping Tom techie
With x-ray eyes

Things are goin’ great
And they’re only gettin’ better
I’m doin’ all right
Gettin’ good grades
The future’s so bright
I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades

I study nuclear science
I love my classes
I got a crazy teacher
He wears dark glasses

Things are goin’ great
And they’re only gettin’ better
I’m doin’ all right
Gettin’ good grades
The future’s so bright
I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades

Play 
  • Audio from the 1956 album, Timbuck 3:

album-greetings-timbuk3
Purchase-Music The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades – $1.29

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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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