Many baby boomers will remember air-raid sirens, bomb shelters, and the fear of a nuclear holocaust.
However by the 1980s, the theme of a nuclear apocalypse had become passé.
The style of music in this track is also a throwback to classic rock of the mid 1970s and 1980s. So what relevance is it today?
The thing is: Just because a problem is passé, doesn't mean the problem has gone away. In fact, since recording No Time To Run, the threat of nuclear warfare has grown more sinister than ever.
At the time I was assembling this video, President Trump was pulling out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty with Russia, Los Alamos was gearing-up for renewed nuclear weapons production, a Russian missile testing facility blew-up causing several radioactivity monitoring stations to go offline, and the Doomsday Clock was closer to midnight that it had been since the peak of the Cold War. Yes folks, this was all happening in August 2019.
No Time To Run was first written in 1985, and performed during 1989 while I was heading 9-DAZE, a Calgary underground alternative rock trio ( not to be confused with any current band by the same name ).
It was inspired in part by the political climate of the Reagan Administration, in particular what had become known as the Star Wars program.
Officially known as the Strategic Defense Initiative ( SDI ), the project was an ICBM defense system under development by the United States military involving a wide array of advanced weapon concepts, including particle beam weapons, ground and space-based missile systems, sensors, high-performance computer systems, and hundreds of combat centers and satellites covering the globe. A number of these concepts were tested through the late 1980s. Some related research continues to this day.
The idea that there would be no time to run from a nuclear attack first made an impression on me during grade school when we learned about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two cities in Japan during World War Two. We were told that the intense flash etched shadows onto surfaces, and that many people died instantly.
As a result of the ensuing nuclear arms race, so many nuclear weapons were built, that in the event of a nuclear war between superpowers, both sides would be obliterated. This became known as Mutually Assured Destruction ( MAD ), hence the lyric, "Nothing fight for. Only to Die for."
Later I had a dream of being in a park overlooking Calgary's city center watching children playing with their parents on a beautiful summer day, when an ICBM detonates over the downtown core. It is what inspired the dreamy artwork and musical styling.
Coincidentally, and paradoxical to one's expectations, the phenomena produced by a nuclear explosion has been called beautiful. One witness described the Trinity Test as a searing light with an intensity many times that of the midday Sun, that lit every peak, crevasse, and ridge of the nearby mountain range with a clarity and beauty that cannot be described, but must be seen to be imagined.
Somewhat synchronistically, the first performances of the song coincided with the release of the movie Terminator 2 Judgement Day, which contains a disturbing portrayal of a nuclear detonation over the city of Los Angeles USA. Like my own dream, the scene is also set in a children's playground.
Twenty-six years later while I was preparing to record the studio version, The Washington Times reported that director James Cameron believed Terminator 2 to be as timely as it ever, not only for the danger of nuclear destruction, but for artificial intelligence. This opens-up other possibilities for what "they" might be in the song's lyrics. Then, in October 2019, Terminator - Dark Fate was released in theatres.
The original video uses a combination of royalty free clips to create a shocking contrast between the peaceful present and the danger lurking just beneath the surface. Using actual archival footage it takes the viewer back in time, so that by the end of the video, when it wraps around to the present, it is like saying that there's still hope.
Because the song can evoke interpretations other than nuclear annihilation, I decided to remove the video from YouTube, and leave the imagination of the listener to create its own imagery. Nevertheless, creative ideas and resources for a reimagining the video would be most welcome.
💡 Most people are aware that the sound of an air-raid siren signals danger from aerial attack. Fewer these days realize that the long steady tone is the All Clear signal. In the song, the listener is moving away from it until it fades into the distance. This opens up avenues of interpretation other than a bomb going off.
The closing and opening scene of the original video ( still capture above ), was meant to give the impression that the fate of civilization now lies in the hands of today's younger generation, particularly anti-nuclear weapons activists. But now that the atomic genie is out of the bottle, will any future generation be free from the fear of nuclear Armageddon?
On January 22 2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) went into effect. But to what effect?
Back in 2017, an overwhelming majority of the world’s nations agreed to ban nuclear weapons.
That took a decade for ICAN and its partners to achieve. The only problem now is that nations with nukes aren't interested.
The new agreement supposedly fills a significant gap in international law by prohibiting nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of these activities. - More here.