In 1976, when I was nine years old, my parents took my sister and I to a transcendental meditation class. Mom and Dad told us that children could take the TM class as well or could choose to just play in the waiting room. The admission to the class for children was a drawing of whatever the child would like. I drew my art in advance and brought it with me to the center. The robed man accepted my drawing and asked me to explain it. Space was always my favorite drawing subject so I drew the solar system starting with the sun and all the way to the last planet, Pluto. The adults learned meditation from another instructor, while my sister and I learned in a group.
Music brings back memories. For me, Moody Blues’ In Search of the Lost Chord brings back to me the memory of my TM lessons in Denver. Another of my parents’ 8-tracks, this was played frequently in our home during my childhood.
Before we go further let me tell you that I listen to the entire composition, not just the lyrics. I also believe that music, even with lyrics is still open to interpretation by the listener. The artist may have written with a specific intent in mind, but the soul that hears is the one touched by the art.
Point being, that at nine years old, many of the words, philosophical constructs and 70’s culture presented in the music flew over my head. In the absence of comprehension I concentrated on how the vocals blended with the instruments and how the underlying emotions made me feel. As if listening to classical music with each singer just using their voice as an instrument. I don’t speak violin, but I understand it nevertheless, I digress…
Departure is just a strange intro. I didn’t say I didn’t like it, but the maniacal laughter at the end just during transition to the next track still reminds me of horror movies. Ride My See-Saw changed the tempo and the feel. While the words weren’t particularly upbeat the introduction guitar was driving and of course the chorus was repeatable.
Dr. Livingston, I Presume stepping out of the jungle gloom gave a clear impression of a man with a safari hat looking for someone. I didn’t have the faintest idea who either he or Captain Scott were, but based on the third verse being about Columbus I guessed (correctly) that both of them were also explorers. So, even some history take away from the music.
I had not planned on going through the album track by track, but relistening I am having difficulty not mentioning something from each one. I very much enjoyed House of Four Doors with parts one and two sandwiching Legend of a Mind in between. Opening with soft strings and then a light drum leading to poetry and then finally music. The sound of each heavy door creaking open sounds completely real and makes it easy to imagine yourself on the journey through them. Especially if you are listening with headphones with eyes closed, as I often was.
At nine years old, I had no idea who Timothy Leary was or how he contributed to science. But I did understand what an astral plane was and I knew about astral projection. It was easy to think of the meaning of Legend of a Mind to be about meditation and visiting other worlds through practice. A few tracks later it turns out that thinking is the Best Way Travel. This backed up what I thought about Timothy Leary not being dead, just sleeping.
Voices In The Sky is still my most favorite composition on the entire album. The plaintive vocals paired with the trilling woodwind always spoke to me. Lyrics aside, the orchestration is outstanding on every track.
In adulthood, I’ve come to see the album in a different light than I did even then. Funny how music means so many different things to different people.
I have long since forgotten the original mantra I was given, but I’ve found others.
The rain is on the roof
Hurry high butterfly
As clouds roll past my head
I know why the skies all cry
OM, OM, Heaven, OM
It was only years later that I associated the actual meaning of the song and the word together.
Brian Gibbins is a husband, father, grandfather, writer, thinker, and maker of things. He writes about technical things at tech.briangibbins.com and about his childhood in the Colorado Rockies at elevation9640.com.