I’m amazed it took until this year for the great British rock band The Moody Blues to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
But they’re in now, and they surely do belong!
In 1967 they did that daring thing: they created a rock album Days of Future Passed with an orchestra consisting mainly of classical instruments, calling itself the London Festival Orchestra. And it wasn’t just that this combination was new; it was done with such beauty, such grandeur, and with such authenticity—a certain rightness in the combination—that it made this record a landmark in the history of music.
After the lush orchestral overture (The Day Begins), the band comes radiating forth with Dawn Is a Feeling that has in it the expanding, energetic inevitability of the rising Sun. And by the time we hit Peak Hour, the full force of the Moody Blues as a bona fide rock band reaches high noon. Onward through the buoyant joy of Tuesday Afternoon and the poignant yearning of Nights in White Satin, orchestra and band keep intermingling, effectively heightening each other and making for an album like no other. And in all of their subsequent albums, that sense of sweeping largeness joined with the urgent immediacy of rock and roll, flourished and took many new forms.
I think the greatest thing about the Moody Blues is the overall sense their songs frequently give us that we are in a world that has goodness, beauty and meaning—a world that is on our side. This comes through not only in the message of the songs, but in the deeply convincing music that delivers that message.
As you, my readers, know, my writing on this site is based on this principle of Aesthetic Realism stated by its founder, Eli Siegel: “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.” Again and again in their best music, the Moody Blues make a beautiful one of gentleness and ferocity, continuity and rhythmic punch, high and low, yearning and joy, definite and indefinite, a single self and the wide universe. This is why we respond to their music with such pleasure: it does what we are deeply hoping to do.
Aesthetic Realism shows that all art is a presentation of reality as worthy of our honest respect and love; and as such, it points the way for how we hope to see all the time.
Today I celebrate the Moody Blues and thank them for providing an abundance of material for doing just that.
Learn more: AestheticRealism.org