A Campbellian Perspective on Solstice

The overarching Solstice narrative fits into Campbell’s monomyth surprisingly well.  At least the NYC 2017 one does.  This isn’t something I did deliberately, which is why it isn’t in the Thinking Behind The Setlist post, but it’s another tool that might be useful for understanding setlists, again presented in the hopes it will be useful.

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The heroine begins in the mundane world, aware of its faults but making the best of them (Always Look on the Bright Side of Life). The herald invites her on a journey (Walk With Me) but she prefers to ask someone else to save her and her people (Bring the Light). The herald raises the spectres of both everyone dying (X Days of X Risk) and the heroine’s own death (When I Die) but she treats both subjects lightly. She counters that her traditions are good enough (That Problem Solved) but realizes for herself (Results won’t Replicate) that they aren’t. So she sets off.

She begins by confronting death more honestly (Bitter Wind Blown) and struggling to make sense of the world (Chasing Patterns). She learns the weaknesses of the tools she brought with her (Just People; Time Wrote the Rocks). At the same time she finds that those tools are the strongest things around (Origin of Stories). Stuck at this paradox, she again appeals to an outside force to save her (Bring the Light Reprise).

As we return from intermission, our heroine is still lost in the dark (Do You Realize?). She realizes that neither she nor her traditions have the strength to prevail (No Royal Road) and stumbles on the idea of self-improvement. She then faces the full extent of the darkness (Voicing of Fear) and descends into the underworld (A Little Echo). There, a dead child offers her the gift of diligence (Bitter Wind March). She combines this with the self-improvement from earlier (Eternal Winter; Endless Light) and prepares for the final confrontation.

With her new strength, she defeats cold and dark directly (Brighter than Today) and death and loneliness less directly (Endless Lights).

Victorious, she returns to the mundane world (Here Comes the Sun) and recognizes its richness and glory for the first time (Here and Now). She offers her people the gifts she obtained on her journey (Forever Young).

Integrating her newfound strength with the mundane world is a challenge but one quickly overcome (What does it Mean to Be Forever Young?). That handled, she leads her people to the stars (Uplift / 5000 Years).

That last bit isn’t really part of the monomyth, but the rest fits pretty well. Which might just be a tribute to how things can be shoehorned into archetypes if the archetypes are vague enough. But I think it’s a potentially useful angle to view things from.

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