A Song for Steve Jobs: “Vision in Black” by Nathan J. and The NeXTsteps

At the risk of making this seem like the Blog of Amusing Computing Promos of Yesteryear, what with my recent posts, I wanted to share something I ran across the other day.

That crazy HP Series 700 promo video I posted a few weeks back actually inspired me to get my HP 712/60 PA-RISC workstation back up and running. (I even upgraded it to a 712/100, but that’s for another post.) Since it is up and running, I’ve been downloading and installing “Green” / “Gecko” NEXTSTEP apps and having fun with a rather unique (and fast) NEXTSTEP platform.

One of the sources of these apps I’ve come upon is the Nebula Quad-FAT two-CD set (NEXTSTEP apps that run on all four platforms: NeXT, Intel, PA-RISC, Sun). There are lots of interesting apps of all sorts contained within, as well as a variety of documents and media. It’s one of the media items that I’m posting about, today.

Buried in a sounds directory on one of the CDs is a NeXT .snd file recording of the 20+ year old song “Vision in Black” by Nathan Janette & the NeXTsteps (from the album The NeXT Wave…). It’s a rather heartfelt number that laments the prospect of NeXT getting out of the hardware business (which they did, back in 1993) and makes a plea to Steve: “…please, don’t kill the cube!”

I’ve converted the .snd file to an MP3 and have posted the accompanying lyrics .rtf document so you can sing along with poor Nathan as he croons his tale of woe.

UPDATE 3/24/2015: Nathan just stopped in and left the song’s backstory in the comments. Have a look.

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5 Responses to A Song for Steve Jobs: “Vision in Black” by Nathan J. and The NeXTsteps

  1. Daniel says:

    For 20 years or more, I have had a copy of that myself. It’s a fun song, very well done.

  2. iPadCary says:

    If I could point to a single solitary reason why I’ve been reading this blog for years, it’d be this post.

    • Blake Patterson says:

      That’s great to hear. I love finding some obscure gem from way back when and sharing it with those who might otherwise never have come across it. These are the most enjoyable types of posts to put together, for me. Many thanks.

  3. Nathan says:

    Hi, it’s Nathan of that recording. Thanks for your kind words. I’m both amused and horrified that this recording is still “out there”. Since you were gentle in your description, I’ll share (for the first time, I believe) the story of that recording. The real performance of the song happened at someone’s house in SF after several long days leading up to and during one of the NeXTWORLD Expos. Many NeXT users/advocates had traveled from all over the world to attend the show. Having experienced the high of the show, yet feeling worried that NeXT would drop the incredible NeXTcube and/or its optical drive, I jotted down the silly lyrics (possibly with some help, I honestly don’t remember). I think someone had a cheap acoustic guitar that I played, standing in a circle of a dozen people sitting on the floor of the room, all clapping and singing the responses. It sounded great for a total hack. That should have been the end of it, a cute story remembered by a few people. But, my cousin, a noted software architect/engineer, insisted we should record it. So, if I recall correctly, the next morning, feeling trashed and with my throat raw, we repeated the performance; it’s a shadow of the original, but who knows how much of that is perception vs. reality? The real magic was the variety of people that truly believed in Job’s and NeXT’s vision coming together for those expos.

    • Blake Patterson says:

      Thanks for stopping in with the backstory, Nathan. Those must have been amazing days, being in the NeXT scene at the time. I merely lusted after the cube, contenting myself with reading The NeXT Book at the local Waldenbooks. I’ve caught up now, but it would have been magical to have been deep in it when black hardware was still rolling.

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