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A child’s toy, a token of their youth, encapsulates the spirit of what it means to be a kid. Before the duties of becoming an honorable or dysfunctional adult sink into a child’s frame of mind, they can live free and carelessly, since there is little to no liability to the mistakes we make and the time we waste in play. At the outset, our lives can be lived between a wide margin of error with time to recover from our mistakes. But as we have less time to use as we age, that margin of error shrinks and demands that we perform with far less error than we had when we were young.
Our imaginations can run wild and pursue every whim and fancy with wild abandon when we’re kids. No toy is just an object for play but rather a prop in a massive parade or great adventure. As children we are only limited by our imagination, but as adults the imagination is restricted by social norms, the law, and the responsibilities of adulthood. Liabilities become real and all of our actions become measured and cautious.
The essence of what this piece of music, Engine no. 28, has captured is the spirit of fun and fantasy. The speed of the tempo, like a child’s heartbeat, is moving at a quick pace to mimic the pulse of a kid in constant motion. The bass line, low and bouncey, dances like a giant, but friendly teddy bear. The melody has a nursery rhyme quality to it, being simple and repetitive, and easy to remember after just a few iterations. You can even grasp the sensation of turning the big steering wheel of the large tires with twirling bass line arpeggios. Plus, synthesized fire engine noises provide a perfect environment for a fire engine fantasy.
Engine no. 28 is also about that time in all of our lives when we stole pleasure moments for ourselves and invested them in play and imagination. We believed we possessed the power to endow objects with life and did by animating them for our amusement and to impress others. During that time we populated whole cities and fantasized about doing things until the day came when we really could.