The Moody Blues' 1969 Album: "To Our Children's Children's Children", for me, tells the most cohesive story from beginning to end of all the Moodies albums, with as much vivid imagery as any set of songs I have ever encountered -- "panoramic and in technicolor", presenting an amazing creativity of thought and talent, and still a treasure to me, 35 years down the road.
They set out, at their producer Tony Clarke's leading, to create an album to coincide with the landing of man on the moon, in that summer of 1969. It was said in interviews that it was wondered what it would be like if someone got lost in space.
To me, the album tells the story of a space traveler that we refer to appropriately enough as "Gypsy", who is launched into outer space, but technology is fallible, and the character is lost from control, spiraling out into the unknown.
It seems that Gypsy may have been a child, possibly the child of a family who was launched, and maybe the others died -- or maybe the "Child" is just meant figuratively, as we are all children when venturing into a new experience. I can listen to the album both as a literal story, and allegorically.
The journey has it's delightful moments for a while, as the words to "Floating" describe. As a child, even emergencies can be made light of -- but eventually, the older Gypsy begins to ponder the mysteries of existence, the wondering of his future, questioning the truth about everything that's out there beyond his own limited window -- "Looking for total view." We follow his experience as he goes on traveling Eternity Road, falling through the mysteries within the Hands of Time.
After a million years, Gypsy arrives on a strange planet, and takes his place there as an Adam-type figure.
My song impressions:
"Higher & Higher"
The album starts out with "Higher & Higher", the song written by Graeme to open this saga of the space traveler -- this album created to coincide with man's first walking on the moon and a celebration of man's achievements; and it aimed also, reportedly, to serve as a "time capsule" that would describe to future generations just how we were feeling at that time of our history, having learned to "play with fire". Was this "vast vision" we now believed we had received capable of bringing "an end to our home's endless blight -- a beginning of the free"?
The story we've heard is that the band asked NASA for a recording of a rocket launch to use for the liftoff, but it was disappointing, a "damp squibb" -- not dynamic enough, so they set off to create their own "launch". Rumors report that they included the taping of the striking of a match (at high volume and played back slowly) for the initial "blast", but other accounts say that among other things, they incorporated the use of an organ -- many keys played at once, for the power of the sound needed.
Combined with all of this experimentation, the classic Moody Blues harmony succeeded wonderfully in creating for us an image of the Heavenlies being entered into.
"Eyes of a Child"
"And through life you will be a small part of a hope of a love that exists, in the eyes of a child you will see."
The music is of quiet discovery, with delicate heavenly harps -- an image of innocence and purity.
Allegory for ourselves: If we ever could get to -- return to -- that place where we were simple and innocent and guileless enough, we would be able to see clearly what precious part each life is of God Who is love.
In the story, Gypsy, all alone, is as a new child, and will see things fresh - as it would be wonderful if we all could.
Ray's whimsical offering here is a buoyant rendition of delighting in the weightless freedom of space... "to have wings on my heels... to take a stroll among the stars... I'll flyyyyy..." as the character soars back and forth between our left and right channels, creating an image in our minds. Included: child-like imaginings of future markets where one would even be able to buy Moon Rock Candy.
"Eyes of a Child" Part Two
The child is growing, and getting stronger -- the tempo steps up.
"I Never Thought..."
In the story as I understand it, these are timely excerpts from the mind of the main character Gypsy, who first is marveling that he finds himself still lost in space after a hundred years, and wonders that he is alive: then is even more amazed, when he finds himself 'still' alive after a million years -- a seeming eternity later that all others born of his generation never got to see. And yet his eternity is just beginning.
Instrumental traveling music. We can imagine the planetary mysteries as we fly by.
"Out and In"
Spiritual seeking by Mike:
"Searching with this life of ours, you've gotta make the journey out and in."
A dramatic feel to the music, and Justin's "Ahhhhs..." set the mood for Gypsy's growing angst. The lyrics and the sound of "Gypsy" are so gut-wrenchingly emotional:
"Gypsy of a strange and distant time, traveling in panic, all direction blind, aching for the warmth of a burning sun, freezing in the emptiness of where he's come from."
"Speeding through the shadow of a million years, darkness is the only sound to reach his ears, frightening him with visions of eternity, screaming for a future that can never be."
The rolling, cycling, sound of this song is musically illustrative of the picture being presented: Gypsy "turning, spinning, catherine wheeling... speeding through a charcoal sky... traveling eternity road... searching to find a peace of mind."
Great song to take allegorically for our own sometimes-dizzying journey through life, and also for our lost traveler who is whirling through the darkness, wondering if he will ever be released from this.
"Candle of Life"
Once again, allegorically and in keeping with the story: Gypsy can no longer hide that he is increasingly lonely -- he sees that he is caught helplessly in the hands of time, falling slowly but surely.
Love... would mean so much, to one who is beginning now to know its true worth.
How a "Million"; and Who are the "Other Children"?
No, we do not know, but we can imagine, for ourselves. Here's how it works for me:
The ship that he was lost on didn't have to be fast -- he was just out there spinning through the darkness, watching planets and stars go by, "out of time", humanly speaking, until a million earth years would have passed away, and all of his own earthly generation was long since turned to dust.
He is now seeing a future that they never got to see, but at the same time, he is seeing what other created beings of this new time are seeing -- whether they be spirit angels, other created and unfamiliar races, whatever. All we know is that they are not like him, and his soul remains lonely.
"Sun is Still Shining"
Mike's theme again, with the music reflecting an Eastern influence. A harmonic call to "see with your mind, leave your body behind... open your heart to the universe of which we're a part."
I think SISS fits in well with the allegory of the traveling Gypsy who, while on his journey through space, on one hand suffering isolation and deprivation, is forced into his unique circumstance of being able to view the whole wide universe, with a timeless lifetime to ponder the mysteries, that the earthbound left behind are hindered from experiencing because of all the normal daily cares and obstacles that get in the way.
"Watching & Waiting"
We open with music from the studio organ, which puts us in a Cathedral-like frame of mind; thus, we are primed to anticipate discovery on a Grand scale.
Who is speaking in "Watching & Waiting"?
I see "Watching & Waiting" to be narrated by The Creator of all things, and to say that "here there's lots of room for doing the things you've always been denied" is the Creator presenting this gift of an expansive new homeland to this poor character who has been lost in lonely space for millions of years.
The dialogue switches back and forth between the Creator and Gypsy, with Gypsy saying he hopes it won't be very long before he has someone to share it all with.
"Mole, he is burrowing his way to the sunlight, he knows there's Someone there so strong."
Yes, the Mole is also a river. But here is what it meant to me:
I got the feeling that this planet Gypsy landed on was a new creation, burgeoning with new life, and that all the creatures were just beginning to discover themselves. It is said that all creation recognizes it's Creator -- I hear this line as giving example of a simple mole (or even a river Mole) finding his way into the sunlight, where even he feels the attraction of the great Power there.
"Don't be alarmed at my fields and my forests..."
In my story, this long-lost space traveler has been out there in the darkness for a seeming eternity. If he even remembers anything about his native homeland, it's been so long since he's seen it that there remains little trace in his mind of the images he had ever known of his life on earth (presumably earth, but wherever).
When he arrives on this new-found land, it has to be a shock to suddenly see all of this -- everywhere all of this foreign life, "fields and forests", animals, birds, everything. After all, he's been spinning through darkness all this time, only viewing the universe's marvels from a distance.
So this Voice -- whether the Creator or the speaking Planet, as some prefer -- is telling Gypsy not to be alarmed, that "this is all for you to enjoy and explore and make use of." But all the marvels of an entire planet are lonely if you can not share it with someone bone of your bone, and flesh of your flesh.
* * *
So the story ends with Gypsy looking around him at this new home, "watching and waiting for a friend to play with" -- that desire we all have to share with someone who can relate to us. He needs "someone to understand me -- I hope it won't be very long."
And he asks: "Why have I been alone for so long?"
"Why" is such an age-old question.
He is answered by The Voice that greeted him there -- that Someone who is there in the warm, welcoming sunlight, so inviting that even the simple mole feels the attraction to burrow upwards to get close to The Source.
But "Why," he is not told -- and we usually aren't, as our finite minds may simply not be able to comprehend Great Plans. He is only told that here before him is everything that Gypsy has always been denied, and now he can do anything he desires, with no one to stop him from trying. There's just only one thing missing... and we were never given the sequel.
The inside of the album's gatefold.