Monday, October 20, 2014

My Vinyl Collection: The Moody Blues, In Search of the Lost Chord

The second acquisition in my new old vinyl collection arrived last week. It's "In Search of the Lost Chord" by The Moody Blues. There are several factors that made this my second choice to add to my new collection: I like the album, the cover art is great, and I have a lot of personal history with it. 

In Search of the Lost Chord by The Moody Blues. 

I'd heard most of the songs on this album on AOR radio long before the bus trip where it became a permanent part of my adolescent experience, but being a concept album, In Search of the Lost Chord really needs to be heard in its entirety a few times to sink in. And it's an easy experience. It can be done over any mellow-inducing substance. My favorite has always been a cup of tea. A rainy afternoon is usually best, but I suspect other weather conditions would be equally effective. 

When Jenny saw I had bought this album, she played the opening and the kids stopped what they were doing and said "That's scary." It's very unusual for anything to divert their attention from their screens. Trust me, the civil defense sirens have accidentally been sounded here, and they didn't look up, so to get their attention you know something has to be unusual. After that opening the album goes right into the most famous song on the album, and the only true single, "Ride My See Saw." Maybe "Voices In the Sky" was released as a single, not sure, but after "Ride My See Saw" the album goes into the sequence of concept songs about searching for the lost chord. I remember from my reading this is from a poem where a musician strikes the perfect note and angels sing and the heavens open, but he is never able to replicate that note and is driven mad by the experience of trying. 

My mother's musical tastes ran towards British Invasion bands and pop like Abba, and my father listened to country and roots bands like Creedence Clearwater Revival. The Moody Blues is a band that doesn't fit into any of those categories, so when I heard it on a long bus right headed towards a cross country meet in central Illinois, it was my first experience hearing most of these songs. My friend Royal had the cassette tape, and since we were senior members of the team nobody had the juice to complain that this was completely non-motivational running music. Can you imagine a school bus full of athletes in 2014 headed towards a sporting event while listening to Moody Blues "In Search of the Lost Chord." That in itself made my introduction to the album a very unique experience, but it was the music. I just dug it. And I misremembered. This event occurred two years earlier than I thought, and the reason we were allowed to play such an unusual album isn't that we were older, it was that the meet was a fresh-soph meet, and none of the older guys were there to shout it down, which no doubt they would have. Maybe even a few of us were just in the back of the bus listening softly, but no matter, this was something that didn't happen very often, if ever. 

What fifteen year old can't identify with the themes of searching for truth, meaning, and identity? 

I ran badly that day. Again. It was cold and rainy, of course, and I probably didn't even eat anything before I got on the bus. I didn't learn until nearly thirty years later the valves and vessels in my heart resembled the St. Louis cloverleaf, and I wasn't getting enough blood to vital areas to be competitive in an endurance sport. I'd like to run those competitions again with my new heart. That will never happen, but I have the keen memory of that bus trip, and the guys I was friends with then. They'd probably be surprised that moment in time had such a lasting impact on me. Maybe not. 

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