The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

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"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)[citation needed] and the Top 40 in the United Kingdom (#21)[1].



The inspiration for the song, and the title specifically, came when Barbara MacDonald said to her partner and husband singer/songwriter 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."[2]

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 young nuclear scientist and his rich future[2], listening audiences heard a graduation theme song.

Shala 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 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

Use on film and TV soundtracks

The track has been used in the 1986 movie Something Wild, 1987 movies Campus Man and My Best Friend Is a Vampire, 1992's Kuffs starring Christian Slater, Dream a little dream (1989), Tommy Boy (1995) and TV show soundtracks.

A cast video for the song was also created in 1987 and aired for the TV show Head of the Class.


  1. ^ "ChartArchive". Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Margaret Moser (23 Feb 2007). "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades - Barbara Kooyman leverages Timbuk 3 for". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 9 Mar 2011. ""'Oh, the future's so bright, we'll have to wear sunglasses!'" Kooyman teased. "Pat heard me say it, but he heard it with irony so he wrote down, 'The future's so bright I gotta wear shades.'"" 
  3. ^

External links