The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

"The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" is a song by Timbuk3. It is the opening track from their debut album, "Greetings from Timbuk 3". It was released by I.R.S. Records in 1986. The song made the Top 20 in the United States (#19) and The United Kingdom (#18).

Creative Inspiration

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 80’s, 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" 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 1980's, along with the nuclear tension at the height of the cold war to compile the song.

Particular scenes in the video tend to support the grim outlook that Pat was referring to. At the 1:02 time frame on the 3:20 video, Pat and Barbara are seen sitting in chairs out in the desert, fixated on a position off camera. There then begins a glow which brightens the screen. It appears as if this scene was intentionally designed to portray the two observing a nuclear explosion.

The group's EP "Looks Like Dark to Me" contains a slower version of the song with an additional verse, making clear the dark nature of the song's intent:

"Blowin' up the lab," "Blowin' the professor," "Torn between two evils," "I always pick the lesser."
That same EP's title track also refers back to this song:
"The future's been bright for so long now, it looks like dark to me"

List of compilation albums containing the song

* "L.A. Freeway"
* "The '80s Hit(s) Back!"
* "Chart Toppers: Modern Rock Hits of the 80's, Vol. 2"
* "Only Dance: 1985-1989"
* "Rock of the 80's: Volume 5"
* "Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1986"
* "Living In Oblivion : The 80's Greatest Hits, Vol. 3"
* "On the Charts: I.R.S. Records 1979-1994"
* "Only in the 80s, Vol. 3"
* "Rock on"
* "Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1985-1989"
* "I.R.S. Records on the Charts"
* "Disney's An Extremely Goofy Movie Dance Party!" soundtrack (2000)

Other Notable Appearances

* theme song for the 1987 movie "My Best Friend Is a Vampire"
* appears as in the 1990 TV movie "Hometown Boy Makes Good", starring Anthony Edwards and Grace Zabriskie
* featured in the 1992 movie "Kuffs", starring Christian Slater and Milla Jovovich
* featured in the 1995 movie "Tommy Boy", starring David Spade and Chris Farley.
* appears on VH1's 100 Greatest One-hit Wonders list
* Season 1, Episode 5 of the television show "21 Jump Street" was named “The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades” in references to the song
* [ episode 19] of "Head of the Class"
* used by "Living TV" in the UK for an advertisement for "CSI Miami" in 2007
* British Rock group Status Quo covered the song for their 1996 covers album Don't stop
* Featured prominently in the first episode of canceled tv show "Werewolf"
* Covered by Pat Benatar in Disney's "An Extremely Goofy Movie"
* Featured in the 1987 movie The Allnighter.


* Margaret Moser, “The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades: Barbara Kooyman Leverages Timbuk3 for,” "Austin Chronicle", Feb. 23, 2007, "available at" []
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External links

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