Toto, “A Thousand Years” from The Seventh One (1988): Toto Tuesdays

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Toto’s The Seventh One was a masterpiece, and the run home with the last three tracks on this album find the band at the peak of their game.

The first of those trio of songs is “A Thousand Years.” This tune has its origin as a demo tape from Joseph Williams’ brother Mark, an accomplished drummer and session musician himself. The cassette was simply marked “something good.”

Joe brought the demo to the band, and Jeff Porcaro was adamant Toto should record it. Writing credits for this song also include David Paich, further continuing the fruitful collaborative efforts between he and Joseph. They eventually worked together on seven of the 12 tracks from The Seventh One.

Lyrically, “A Thousand Years” conveys a deeper, somewhat existential tone than most of Toto’s material to date.

Day after day, I feel myself slowing down, what does it mean?
The air has changed, it’s getting harder to breathe, or so it would seem
Sail me away to a distant shore, where everything’s fine

A thousand years, lost in the blink of an eye
If the sky keeps fallin’, the world will come tumblin’ down
In a thousand years

Tell me my friend, can you imagine a place free of boundaries and lies
There’s blood on the wind and it’s come all of the way from faraway skies
Take me away to a different world where everything’s fine

A thousand years, one day for every life
Just keep on going, we’ll find you a home underground, in a thousand years

Sail me away to a distant shore, where everything’s fine

It’s a welcome change that provides a glimpse into Toto’s growth and aspirations as songwriters.

From a musical perspective, Joseph Williams handles this vocal with conviction and assurance. It’s a superb performance. As to be expected, Toto provides excellent backing: A gentle pulse from Jeff drives this track, supported by Mike Porcaro’s solid bass and Paich’s evocative synth pad. In the chorus, Steve Lukather’s muted sixteenth notes with delay effect push the groove another notch.

However, the real stand out is the guitar solo. It starts with a fairly clean sound – you can almost hear the fingers on the strings – then moves to a section with reverse effects, before culminating in a searing lead line. It is a beautifully crafted contribution from Luke who, by this stage, is knocking everything out of the park. There’s no ostentation or saturated effects; this solo belies a maturity born of countless hours in the studio.

“A Thousand Years” is an evocative and hauntingly beautiful song. In the hands of Toto, it transcended being merely “something good.”

Toto Tuesdays is a song-by-song feature that explores the rich musical history of Toto. The group returned with ‘Toto XIV’ in 2015, their first album in nearly a decade.

Anthony Sonego

Anthony Sonego

Anthony Sonego is a long-time Toto fan (and synth-nerd) from Down Under. It’s tragic, but if you ask him about achieving blip or the accumulation of subtleties, he can help you program it. Contact Something Else! at
Anthony Sonego
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