2017: The Year of Big Big Train

Hello Progarchists!  I’m back. . . though a little later than I had meant to be.

For those two of you (ha) who you have been waiting eagerly to know my favorite album of 2017, I give you not one album.  Oh no, not one. . . but two albums and two EPs: Grimspound; Second Brightest Star; London Song; and the Merry Christmas EP.

All by one band, of course.  And not just any band, but an extraordinary band.  The best prog band in the world (tied with Glass Hammer, at least to my ears and soul), the band that reveals every.single.thing.that.is.good.in.prog, Big Big Train.

Grimspound 2017
Best album of 2017, 1.1, Grimspound.  Art by Sarah Ewing.

Greg, David, Dave, Nick, Rachel, Rikard, Andy, Danny, and, that 9th BBTer, Rob—congratulations.  Whatever other hells happened in the world in 2017, 2017 will always be, to me, the “Year of Big Big Train.”  You overwhelmed us not with quantity, but with quality.  And, dare I say it: with love.

Best album of 2017, 1.2, Second Brightest Star.  Art by Sarah Ewing.

In a year of screaming, violence, tweets gone mad, and sabre rattling, you reminded every one of us what is most important in this world—not the things that are fleeting, but the things that are eternal, the things so great that they can never be marred by our idiocy, our choices, and our sins.

Big Big Train’s music in 2017, especially given the darkness that surrounds us, reminds me so powerfully of my favorite passage in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Sam’s vision in Mordor.

There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.

What Sam understood is what Big Big Train has given us in 2017AD.

The band’s music has reached into things eternal and immanetized them, giving us tangible hope, faith, and love.  For Tolkien as well as for Big Big Train, the white star is Venus, goddess of love and bearer of gifts from the gods.

London Town
Best EP of 2017, 1.1, London Song
BBT Xmas By Sarah Ewing
Best EP of 2017, 1.2, Merry Christmas.  Art by Sarah Ewing.



4 thoughts on “2017: The Year of Big Big Train

  1. Frank Urbaniak

    Good to see that perseverance and a willingness to expand their horizons has paid off for them at least in terms of recognition and enough funding to continue to produce quality work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kruekutt

    Finally getting the chance to hear the CD of Merry Christmas/Snowfalls, I’m struck again by how fastidious BBT’s craftmanship is — but also how it’s always in service to the song, with music & lyrics working together to form something greater than the sum of the parts. “Merry Christmas'” lyrics felt a bit anodyne & cliche to me, until I really listened to the backing; it supports and unpacks the lyrical message in the way it flows, ebbs and builds. The emotion is captured brilliantly in the music And “Snowfalls” — whew. A stunning portrait of determination in the face of loss and change, with the sensitive, gradual musical build to that explosive playout. It’s like Dickens’ “The Battle of Life” (one of his Christmas books) in a 6 minute song.



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