The Future Soon
|The Future Soon|
|Release||Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow|
"The Future Soon" is the opening track on Jonathan Coulton's first EP, Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow. It is one of Jonathan's most regularly played songs in his live shows, often appearing at the opening of a set.
"The Future Soon" was, in its early days, performed as part of John Hodgman's Little Gray Books Lecture #18, "What Will Happen In The Future". During the course of Little Gray Books, Jonathan was discovered by Andrew Zolli, curator of the Pop!Tech technology conference. While Jonathan had been playing music for some time (including having released his first album, Smoking Monkey), it was after a performance of "The Future Soon" that Andrew approached Jonathan.
Jonathan was invited to play "The Future Soon" at Pop!Tech 2003. On October 17, 2003, he performed as one of the events scheduled between official sessions. This performance was so well-received by the audience that Jonathan was asked to play several more songs over the course of the weekend-long conference, including "Gambler's Prayer" and "Mandelbrot Set". Jonathan later cites Pop!Tech 2003 as the cause of several career-shaping decisions (contributing to Popular Science Magazine, releasing music under Creative Commons), making "The Future Soon" a unique keystone of Jonathan's early career.
A demo performance of "The Future Soon" was recorded by Jonathan Coulton before the version that was eventually released on Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow. The recording comprised of Jonathan's solo vocals accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Some of the lyrics in the demo version differ slightly from those in the published version. These changes are listed in the notes included on the lyrics page.
"The Future Soon" is a staple of the Jonathan Coulton live show experience. While Jonathan doesn't always introduce the song with the full background story, he gives a consistent introduction to the song when he does. In brief, Jonathan describes "The Future Soon" as how someone might feel if they were about 12 years old, alone in their room, reading Omni Magazine, and thinking about the future.
When playing alone, Jonathan usually performs "The Future Soon" as the very first song on the setlist. When the show opens with Paul and Storm, "The Future Soon" marks the beginning of the "Jonathan Coulton" part of the show--a subtle but important detail, considering that Jonathan usually performs backup vocals for Paul and Storm for at least one song.
When playing the song live, Jonathan uses only an acoustic guitar, and is otherwise unaccompanied. If Paul and Storm were performing prior to this song, they leave the stage until the next song for which they perform backup vocals and percussion. Thus, the recorded version and the live version of this song differ mainly in the instrumentation and the presence of backup vocals.
A few, much more minor, differences exist between the recorded version and the live version of the song:
- The line, "And I know that I'll forget the look of pity in her face," becomes, "And I know that I'll forget the pity on her face." Take a look at the lyrics to find the line.
- The final guitar chord of the bridge section is modified to be more reliably played (from Aaug to A); this results in a slight but noticeable change. Take a look at the tabs to find the chord.
- "The Future Soon" is classified as a funny/sad song on the Listening Suggestions page.
- "The Future Soon" was regularly performed by the character Emil Bleehall at the Adventurers Club, a themed nightclub in the Pleasure Island portion of Walt Disney World. The Adventurers Club has since closed down, and Emil's last performance was, appropriately, of When You Go.
- "The Future Soon" was featured during the Harmonix Rock Band Network panel at PAX 2009, and was released for the Xbox 360 on March 4th 2010 and June 1st 2010 for the Playstation 3.
- Cory Doctorow used lyrics from this song's chorus as the title and epigraph of a science fiction short story.
"The Future Soon" is available for purchase in the Jonathan Coulton MP3 Store as an individual track or as part of Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow. Of course, this song is also included as part of the "Everything" playlist.
Downloadable FLAC versions of the above are available in the Jonathan Coulton FLAC Store
As of February 2008, the CD version of Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow is out of print and is no longer available.
A karaoke version of "The Future Soon" (studio recording version) is available on the Jonathan Coulton Karaoke Store.
This song is also now available through the music streaming application Spotify here
The Yale Spizzwinks did an acapella version at Jamnesia 2009
The song is also a track on Harmonix's Rock Band Network of which Jonathan Coulton is an avid supporter. It lists for 160 Microsoft Points or $1.99 on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, respectively.
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