Maybe I’m old and my ol’ emotion bone is broken: I don’t really “feel” much anymore when I listen to music. Maybe I’m old, maybe I’m filled up with nostalgia from the music I listened to when I was younger, maybe I’m just cold. Whatever has given me that cold-hearted orb, only a handful of bands can set it beating again.. Chief among them, The Moody Blues.
Sure, I could gush about how groundbreaking they were, how they elevated rock and roll with the grand, symphonic album Days of Future Passed filled with all-time classics like Nights in White Satin and… well, and nothing else, really. The whole album is great, but that’s the only one that really stuck.
I could go on about the follow up, the mellotron-heavy In Search of the Lost Chord that was driven largely by dreamy, hippie, ethereal pseudo-psychedelic nonsense. Great melodies, though. Remember, thinking is the best way to travel.
I could go backwards and discuss the fact that despite these aspirations of philosophical discourse and pushing the genre ever closer to prog, they started like so many other British bands as a Blues cover group, with one member, Denny Laine, that would eventually move onto to other, bigger things, ie. be Paul McCartney’s whipping boy in Wings. Yes, the Moody Blues had a hit soul song, a cover of Go Now.
If I really wanted to be thorough, I’d talk about their ‘80s resurgence with their pure synth hits The Voice, Gemini Dream, and I Know That You’re Out There Somewhere. They were, oddly, there the more adaptable dinosaurs to the ‘60s to find success in the ‘80s.
But none of those, while all special to me to one degree another, are the ones that melt my cold heart. That privilege belongs to To Our Children’s Children’s Children. This album, their second major release of 1969, was thematically appropriate for the year. The concept was space, time and aging, and the expansion of intellectual horizons (but not New Horizons; that’s on a different album). It wasn’t their biggest hit, though it was a Top 20 album in the US. It didn’t spawn a hit single, though they tried. But what it is is lush and poignant. The themes speak to me as someone at the ancient age of 38, nearly 20 years removed from my formative music-listening years
There is one specific song I’m talking about. At a mere 1:05, it’s short and to the point, though it’s not quite as short as the reprise that’s only 34 seconds long. These two song fragments, I Never Thought I’d Live to Be a Hundred and I Never Though I’d Live to Be a Million, move me nearly to tears. A gentle melody, Justin Hayward’s soft vocals, and lyrics that, while not especially poetic, still carry a vague spirituality and an uplifting tone that make me… feel.
The Moody Blues aren’t the greatest band ever. They put out a lot of work much of which is, to be fair, super corny. Like, outrageously so. But when they hit, they were nearly untouchable.