The Moody Blues, Still Singing in a Rock ‘n Roll Band

Isn’t life strange,
A turn of the page
A book without light,
Unless with love we write.
To throw it away,
To lose just a day.
The quicksand of time,
You know it makes me want to cry, cry, cry…

I was in Nashville, TN last night, at the Ryman Auditorium, hearing one of my all-time favorite bands, the Moody Blues. Though the group’s members are all over 65 now, they can jam. My ears are still ringing.

It’s hard for me to express what the music of this British rock band, that got it’s start in the ’60s, has meant to me over the years. I first heard them – that I can remember – on a greatest hits 8-Track that came out in the mid-70′s called, This is the Moody Blues. It had many of their greatest songs on it, including, of course, Knights In White Satin, Tuesday Afternoon, and Timothy Leary. It was actually a double album so there were two, large, clunky, blue boxes. Though the set was already some six years old when I got my hands on it, I listened to them all through high school and, when they detonated, I re-bought the album on vinyl and recorded them onto cassettes. I still have that vinyl double-album today.

Moody Blues, Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN, March 21, 2012

In college, a fellow physics major turned me on to some of their other albums: Days of Future passed, A Question of Balance, In Search of the Lost Chord, To Our Children’s, Children’s, Children, and On the Threshold of a Dream - masterpieces that came out from 1967 to 1970. Last night was the third time I’ve seen them in concert, first in 1986, again in 2008, and now in 2012. I don’t know if it is their technical mastery of their instruments, the perfection of their compositions, or the depth of their lyrics, no matter how tough life seems to get, and it gets pretty hard at times, the music of The Moody Blues has the power to calm my fears and reset my mind.

In many ways I can’t begin to describe the positive effect Justin, John, Graeme, Ray, and Mike have had on my life. Ray Thomas’ flute solos in Timothy Leary and Veteran Cosmic Rocker in 1986 remain untouched in my mind as the greatest musical performances I’ve ever seen or heard. Mike Pinder’s early adoption of technological innovations created the band’s unforgettable sound. Greame Edge’s lyrics and drumming, and his entertaining displays in their later concerts have kept me riveted for nearly a half century. And John Lodge and Justin Hayward, the band’s guitarists, singers, songwriters and frontmen… what can you say? John Lodge – not only is he a fantastic songwriter and a magnificent bassist, but the guy just loves what he does. To see him on stage, even at 66, is to see a child at play. The twinkle in his eyes is as fresh and clear as it was in 1967. And, of course, Justin Hayward. Justin can still play lead like he could at 25 and you’ve not lived life until you’ve seen him destroy Question. But what truly shines through Justin is his brilliance as a songwriter. Words fail, and all I can do is marvel at the genius.

Me and my hard-rocking preacher friend at the Ryman.

The Moody Blues have been a central part of my life for going on 30 years now. I wish I could let them know how much their music has meant to me. At the end of their concerts, when they thank us for traveling with them on this journey, do they have any idea what they are really saying? Do they have any idea of the depth to which they have affected people? Some of these songs they’ve been playing for 45 years now. Forty-five years! Have they become stale? I hope not, because they will never become stale to me. And as my tribute to them, I am writing a screenplay featuring the music of the Moody Blues. My dream is to have it produced as a major motion picture musical in the next few years; a Moody Blues space opera. But even if it never sees the light of day, it gives me a new way to look at their music, what it means to me, and what it could mean to the world.

Thank you. All of you. I could not have made it without you.

About John

American, husband, father, writer, rocket scientist, soccer player, motorcycle rider, Christian, and proud of it.
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4 Responses to The Moody Blues, Still Singing in a Rock ‘n Roll Band

  1. Liz Hand says:

    John, I LOVED the Moody Blues in high school & college — still do. I’ve never had the chance to see them but am so glad you have, and were able to share this! A wonderful jaunt in the Wayback Machine — I love it. Thanks —

    xo

    Liz

  2. Amy says:

    John,
    I was also at the Ryman last night. I discovered the band when I was in college in 1995. I have followed them whenever I could and you summed up my own feelings about the band perfectly. I can be having one of the worst days ever and all I have to do is pop in one of their CDs and it’s like a sigh of relief. I just feel so much better and can face the world again.
    They performed the perfect set list last night and I can’t believe I finally got to hear John Lodge sing Nervous live! Justin’s guitar playing was perfect and I often found myself saying Wow! After a killer guitar solo.
    Thank you for the review!
    Amy

  3. John says:

    Liz, you really should see them before they’re done. They’ve got maybe another year. Well worth an evening.

    Amy, it was my second time at the Ryman. It is such a wonderful venue with so much history. So personal. Where were you sitting/standing? I was directly in front of and about fifteen feet from the right speaker bank, about twenty feet from John Lodge. I’ll never forget those 20 year old eyes. And yes, his lyrics on Nervous were… transcendent.

  4. John says:

    Thanks, potty train boy. I’ll tell you who I am: I’m the author of Multiplayer (Amazon, B&N, etc), Viridis, The Silla Project, Green Hajj, and many other books you’ve not yet heard of. But you will. Oh, you will.

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