Why the Moody Blues’ “Greatest Hits” is a Dystopian Album

That would be this album. On cassette, even.

It was certainly high school, probably my junior year? When I was still desperately searching for music that would define me (you know, like you do … I was a weird kid).

I got this album and a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale at the same time. And my stereo had a cassette player that would flip the tape and play the whole thing pretty much on repeat. So that was my spring break, playing the Moody Blues over and over while reading about Offred and the Commander and Nick in my stuffy bedroom with the oscillating fan going.

“Nights In White Satin” always makes me think of Offred rubbing stolen butter into her skin. It also makes me feel nostalgic; it makes me remember Offred’s life before, even as it makes that life seem like the 70s, but it makes me remember it as mine, and makes me miss it.

I don’t think the Moody Blues are a particularly dark band, but anything that could make a 17 year old girl feel like the 33 year old protagonist of a dystopian novel–particularly this dystopian novel, which is all about the politics and attitudes towards women and their bodies–well, it’s not all candy floss pop, either.

And of course, if you look at “Your Wildest Dreams” with The Handmaid’s Tale in mind, it makes the song dark. I remember surfacing from the book–the brothel scene particularly–to the sound of “Tuesday Afternoon.” And “Isn’t Life Strange?” always made me angry–like I wanted to toss something at the guy just singing this dorky, twee song while the world was in ruins around me.

I lost the cassette sometime between that year and whatever year I took my undergrad dystopian fiction class, but it didn’t matter. I re-read Handmaid’s Tale” twice in undergrad, and both times the Moody Blues ran through my head as I read it.

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