• mattbonnan

"Theater of the Mind" - Second single from Once Upon Deep Time

Updated: Aug 11


"Theater of the Mind" is now available for download and streaming!


You can stream or download the song on all major streaming platforms: https://matthewbonnan.hearnow.com/theater-of-the-mind-single


Or you can download the song on my Bandcamp page: https://matthewbonnan.bandcamp.com/


See the music video on my YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/ttQRGuOuYGw


Meaning of the Song


"Dinosaur Songs" was about the living dinosaurs among us known as birds. "Theater of the Mind" is about the tiny mammal ancestors we carry within us. Humans are mammals. The first mammals appeared during the Age of Reptiles approximately 200 million years ago (depending on how certain fossils are interpreted). We are descended from tiny, furry, egg-laying ancestors - some of these earliest mammals and close relatives were the size of a paperclip! These tiny ancestors of ours appeared just as the dinosaurs were becoming large plant-eaters and predators. To the predatory dinosaurs, we were tiny snacks!


One way our ancestors appear to have avoided dinosaurs was by being active at night. In the dark, eyesight is less important, but a good sense of smell, hearing, and anticipating (imagining) where your prey was (insects) and where the predators were (dinosaurs) became important. At the same time, a chain of little bones that were once part of our jaws were repurposed to transmit a range of sounds into our ears. This lifestyle of chasing prey and avoiding predators at night seems to have transformed our brains into danger-imagining machines.


I've always liked the term "theater of the mind" - having worked in radio (where the term appears to have originated) it's the concept of using sound in a way that conjures visuals in the audience's mind. In this song, I'm using "theater of the mind" to point out that we still have this danger-imagining machine in our heads. Although humans are naturally active during the day, when we are afraid and cannot see, the parts of our minds necessary for survival in the distant past create a theater of the mind where we imagine the worst. In a world where we sometimes hide our humanity behind screens, if we can't see or hear reality, we often imagine the worst in each other. The song serves in part to remind ourselves of our shared humanity - don't let the past push us away in the theater of the mind.


Lyrics


© 2022 Matthew Bonnan, Aardonyx Music Publishing. All rights reserved.


Our hearing evolved from tiny ancestors surviving a dark, dangerous world – in the theater of the mind, sometimes we believe we’re still there


Not so long ago

In a different time and space

We hid in the shadows

A nocturnal hiding place


While avoiding the daylight hours

When great reptiles ruled the light

A chain of little bones freed from our jaws

Helped us navigate the night


Then imagination took over

From our eyes so nearly blind

With sound we found our way

In the theater of the mind


In the theater of the mind (Still hunted)

In the theater of the mind (Still blind)

Our imagination runs astray

In the theater of the mind


In the darkness you awake

But you’re not sure you know why

You listen while your heart pounds

And your eyes strain for a sign


In those moments your mind races

Flung back in deep time’s haze

You’re just a tiny creature

Hiding from a reptile’s gaze


When imagination took over

From our eyes so nearly blind

With sound we found our way

In the theater of the mind


In the theater of the mind (Still hunted)

In the theater of the mind (Still blind)

Our imagination runs astray

In the theater of the mind


In a past riddled with danger

Just trying to stay alive

Sound and imagination

Were keys that helped us survive


But if you don’t see or hear reality

You imagine the worst in me

If we place our trust in what isn’t there

We all become the enemy


In the theater of the mind (Still hunted)

In the theater of the mind (Still blind)

Our imagination runs astray

In the theater of the mind


In the theater of the mind (Reach out)

In the theater of the mind (Open your eyes)

Don’t let the past push us away

In the theater of the mind


Learn More / External Links


Mammal evolution: How ancient fossils are revealing the secrets of our earliest ancestors by Stephen Brusatte ancestors: https://www.sciencefocus.com/nature/the-secret-world-of-mammal-evolution/


The Tiniest Mammal Ancestor by Stokstad: https://www.science.org/content/article/tiniest-mammal-ancestor


Lend an ear to a classic tale of mammalian evolution by Simone Hoffman: https://media.nature.com/original/magazine-assets/d41586-021-00064-5/d41586-021-00064-5.pdf


Visit the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Resources for Educators and Students for more information and helpful links: https://vertpaleo.org/resources-for-educators-and-students/

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