Summer of 1969: “In the Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)”

During the summer of 1969, Zager and Evans dominated the radio with their hit song “In the Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus).”  The song stayed in the number one spot for six weeks, including during the Woodstock Music Festival and when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.  It hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on July 12, 1969, ending its run at number on on August 22, 1969.

The song catalogs a horrible future for humans, documenting the world in various rhyming years up to 9595.  For example,

In the year 5555,
Your arms hangin’ limp at your sides;
Your legs got nothin’ to do;
Some machine’s doin’ that for you.

Something about the song resonated with Americans (the song also did well in the U.K.).  “In the Year 2525” seemed even more pessimistic than Barry McGuire’s 1965 hit “Eve of Destruction.”

Perhaps people related to the dystopian vision of “In the Year 2525” after the unrest of the previous year of 1968. That year saw the murders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, Viet Nam protests, and other events.  Or maybe having survived 1968, people found some joy in whistling past the graveyard.

The geniuses behind the song, however, would never match the success of “In the Year 2525.” Zager and Evans were Denny Zager and Rick Evans, who first had a regional hit with the song as local performers in Nebraska.  Evans wrote “In the Year 2525” in 1964.

One of their followup songs, “Mr. Turnkey,” which was about a rapist, did not do well on the charts.

According to Wikipedia, Evans later recorded some of his own music but now stays out of the public eye, while Zager went on to build custom guitars for Zager Guitars.

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