Moody Blues As Soul-Manifesting Music

(Originally posted on October 29, 2011)

Days of Future Past is a milestone album in 20th century rock music. The collective seven albums of the Moody Blues that were released in years spanning 1967 to 1972 are now regarded as the Seven Masterpieces. These are the albums the band produced starting with when Justin Hayward and John Lodge joined circa 1966. This span of album producing and concert touring is referred to as the band’s psychedelia years (the term psychedelic is derived from Greek words meaning “soul-manifesting”).

Justin Hayward has said in interview that during this time frame there were around 12 episodes of experiences with LSD. (The late Steve Jobs, an LSD experiencer himself, has said that he wishes that Bill Gates had done LSD in his youth – that this would have opened up a more creative side of Gate’s native genius.) The Moody Blues band was also good friends with Timothy Leary (especially Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas) – famously heralded in their song Legend Of A Mind from their album In Search Of The Lost Chord. Another less known tribute of the band to Timothy Leary, and one that is rather sad and poignant, appears on their album Seventh Sojourn titled When You’re A Free Man.

The consciousness expanding themes of the Moody Blues music of that period is perhaps most explicit in the songs written by Mike Pinder – beginning with the opening song of Days of Future Past, Dawn Is A Feeling (sung by Justin Hayward). The Pinder songs appearing on the 1969 album To Our Children’s Children’s Children are very vivid in this respect also, songs such as Out And In or Sun Is Still Shining or in Have You Heard/The Voyage/Have You Heard from the album On The Threshhold Of A Dream:

The Moody Blues – Have You Heard HD

Pinder would continue on this theme of consciousness expansion up until what turns out to be his farewell in the 1978 album Octave in the song One Step Into The Light. Perhaps his best song, though, is My Song from the album Every Good Boy Deserves Favour. Mike could well be considered the metaphysical guru of the band.

Mike Pinder, as keyboardest, is also responsible for the Moody Blues distinctive sound via introducing the Mellotron instrument (listen to Tuesday Afternoon from Days of Future Past to appreciate the Mellotron contribution to their sound as a band). Mike had become an expert in technical knowledge of the instrument by having worked at the Mellotron factory. He went on to make his own custom enhancements to the Mellotron, some which were incorporated into latter models. In an era before digital synthesizers the Mellotron was a remarkable instrument and under Mike’s fingers it was truly other worldly – this youtube video is a delightful introduction to that instrument’s musical capabilities:

MaxB – Mini-Magitron – is it a Mellotron?

As the Moody Blues band tours today, the band says they are able to authentically replicate their rich and distinctive studio sound from that era of their music. Justin Hayward says a few years ago he was contacted by a German company that has taken over the Mellotron sound library and instilled it into a professional quality digital instrument they dub the Memotron. (The original analog tape-based Mellotron was mechanically intricate and thus a very finicky instrument to take on tour.)

Justin Hayward, song writer, lead guitarist and lead singer for the band, might be regarded as the romanticist of the group. Certainly his Nights In White Satin hit from Days of Future Past album is perhaps the most elegant love song in rock history. Many of his songs spanning from that 1967 album to the 2003 album December, featuring his song December Snow, are of the so-called love song category. Yet unsurprisingly for a band responsible for spawning the sub genre of psychedelia, Justin’s love songs tend toward a metaphysical bent. The reoccurring theme of his songs is one of separation from a soul mate, longing for reunification with his soul mate, and acceptance that that reunification will not be realized in this physical life time. In a song writing career evidenced from 1967 to 2003 this core theme is hit upon again and again dressed in different lyrical and musical tapestry.

In the 1980s the Moody Blues enjoyed two major hits exemplifying Justin’s great theme: Your Wildest Dreams followed by I Know You’re Out There Somewhere. Here are some lines from the latter song:

The secret of your beauty
And the mystery of your soul
I’ve been searching for in everyone I meet
And the times I’ve been mistaken
It’s impossible to say
And the grass is growing
Underneath our feet

I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I’ll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I’ll find you somehow
And somehow I’ll return again to you

Here we’re talking the 1980s, Reagan right wing conservatism, materialism, and these songs were MTV hit videos (presumably the very antithesis of higher, instrospective thought modality). Yes, lyric-wise these songs are not as out in the open as Mike Pinder’s songs but none-the-less convey a wee touch of a mystic’s perspective.

Perhaps the most touching of all these Higher Consciouness love songs, though, is the last track of the To Our Children’s Children’s Children album, Watching And Waiting. If you go to the youtube upload of this song and peruse the comments, you may see comments from people that have lost loved ones saying that they find solace in the imagery of eternity portrayed in this song – an imagery of eventual reunification. It’s a song that has a somberness, longing, an ethereal sound (Pinder on the Mellotron), but also sublime beauty in the mind scape it evokes:

Moody Blues – Watching & Waiting

[Addendum: Ray Thomas was a co-writer of Watching and Waiting.]

Another standout song of Justin Hayward is his song-within-a-song, and near anthem for the Moody Blues, the song Question from the 1970 album A Question of Balance. The outer song could pass as a King Crimson piece:

Why do we never get an answer
When we’re knocking at the door?
With a thousand million questions
About hate and death and war.

Cause when we stop and look around us
There is nothing that we need.
In a world of persecution
That is burning in it’s greed.

That is the part of the lyrics that made the song so popular in those long ago anti-war protest days. Yet the inner song is the straight on Justin Hayward theme:

I’m looking for someone to change my life.
I’m looking for a miracle in my life.
And if you could see what it’s done to me
To lose the the love I knew
You’d safely lead me through.

Between the silence of the mountains
And the crashing of the sea
There lies a land I once lived in
And she’s waiting there for me.

It’s a strangely remarkable song, one that has been a favorite of the fans, and its rather remarkable to watch Justin perform it. Justin does a splendid rendition in the 2005 live concert video:

Moody Blues: Lovely to See You: Live from the Greek

[NOTE: the DVD/Blueray has 20 songs whereas the download version has been edited down to 53 minutes and omits several songs.]

This is the Moody Blues – a very special band in the annals of rock and roll history. I have not touched upon so much of their considerable catalog of work nor mentioned the particular contributions of flautist Ray Thomas, bass guitarist John Lodge, and drummer Graeme Edge (Graeme is responsible for the spoken poetry that appears on several of their albums – but most famously on Days Of Future Past). Noteworthy as well, this was a band where all members contributed to song writing and had songs that were hits or were prominent stand out tracks on respective albums.

Today’s generation of music listeners have probably never heard of the psychedelia genre of rock music. Mention the Moody Blues to a twenty something person and you’ll typically get a blank stare. Thomas Edison is the better known to mainstream history than Nicholas Tesla, yet Tesla gave us the modern AC electrical grid that is the underpinning of sustaining our civilization. In like fashion even those twenty somethings of today know who the Beatles are, but the Moody Blues have not likely come onto their music history horizon. Well, if you’re a twenty something person and are into consciousness expansion – perhaps you’re intrigued at what LSD inspired music is all about – then consider adding the Moody Blues as a listening excursion. And when later on you begin experiencing synchronicity as you routinely now glance at a clock just as it happens to be eleven minutes past the hour – then you’ll know that you are knowing…

You look around you
Things they astound you
So breathe in deep
You’re not asleep
Open your mind

You’re here today
No future fears
This day will last
A thousand years
If you want it to

Do you understand
That all over this land
There’s a feeling
In minds far and near
Things are becoming clear
With a meaning

Now that you’re knowing
Pleasure starts flowing
It’s true life flies
Faster than eyes
Could ever see

For more introduction to Moody Blues, check out my channel on youtube where I’ve aggregated some of the many video tributes to Moody Blues music:

Moody Blues selections

Moody Blues 1970

MyCoreArticles (and some related links)
[awakening, synchronicity, Gnosticism, AAT, nature of reality/consciousness, etc.]


~ by RogerV on October 29, 2011.

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