Learning to Live (11:30)

Cover of Images and Words

From Images and Words and 42 other releases

Learning to Live” is the eighth and final track from Dream Theater’s 1992 album Images and Words.

The opening lines from the song are a direct lift from the book Atlas Shrugged by noted author Ayn Rand. The first phrase, “There was no time for pain, no energy for anger. Sightlessness of hatred slips away.” is paraphrase from the exact quote “He had no time for pain, no energy for anger. Within a few weeks, it was over; the blinding stabs of hatred ceased and did not return.” (p. 211 of the Centennial Edition) The next phrase in the song, “Walking through winter streets alone, he stops and takes a breath, with confidence and self-control,” is similar to the next few sentences in the book. Dream Theater is known for using movie sound clips in their songs to make a point. However, this inclusion was actually in the lyrics with no reference given to Rand or the book itself. The song itself does not seem to hold any other parallels to Atlas Shrugged and it is unknown what significance this inclusion has.

Like many epic progressive rock songs, Learning to Live has a somewhat unusual structure. Starting at 4:45, James LaBrie stops singing, allowing the instrumentation to continue. At approximately 6:58, he begins singing wordlessly, building up to a very high note that coincides with the song’s main climax. This note is one of the highest notes sung in any Dream Theater song ever written, being the F# under soprano C, or F#5. The only higher note to date on a Dream Theater studio version of a song to date is the G5 towards the end of “Octavarium”.


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There was no time for pain, no energy for anger
The sightlessness of hatred slips away
Walking through winter streets alone
He stops and takes a breath, with confidence and self control

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics


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