“Breathe deep, the gathering gloom…”
It was 1967 and I was 16 years old when I heard the opening lines of Nights in White Satin. And then, the heavily orchestrated music of the Moody Blues began:
Nights in white satin
Never reaching the end
Letters I’ve written
Never meaning to send
The strings soared into the stratosphere punctuated by Graeme Edge’s drumbeat and the sound was embedded into my teenage soul forever. Isn’t it funny how the songs we heard as teenagers still resonate for us as senior citizens? To this day I know all the words to that song and can put myself back in those days instantly. Yes, I had that album.
I didn’t see The Moody Blues until the early 1980s and then, I was with someone who really wasn’t into them. We left early. So when they were in San Jose the other night, I was ready. The band took the stage and on the screen was projected what we used to call a psychedelic light show, and it was great. From time to time, old photos of the band in their youth came up, as well as old posters from concerts and ticket stubs as well. It was one of the best walks down Memory Lane of any concert I’ve seen.
So there we were (with younger friends whose idea it was to attend) in another Bay area venue filled with aging Baby Boomers, all of us reminiscing and for a few hours, at least, reliving our youth. A few wore costumes of our era, setting the scene perfectly. Here’s a woman in a hat that reminded me of Janis. Janis who? If you have to ask that question, you’re either already dead or too young. There’s only one Janis.
Moody Blues concert intermission
I was sorry I couldn’t catch a shot of a man wearing a vest –under it was a tie-dyed, long-sleeved shirt and a huge peace pendant hanging around his neck. I loved his spirit and longed to talk with him, but he never passed by our seats again that night.
As the band performed, I watched a nearby couple about our age singing every lyric. Have you ever looked at someone and seen, really seen, what they must have looked like young? It was that way for me with this couple. They were especially enthusiastic at this song, and then I really heard the lyric:
I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I’ll find you somehow
I know I’ll find you somehow
And somehow I’ll return again to you
My girlfriend caught my eye and pointed to my husband, saying, “that’s your story!”
But that wasn’t what made me tear up. What moved me beyond measure was the entire place full of people around my age, all of us thinking about our pasts, all of us reliving our youths, and all senior citizens. In our busy lives, we rarely have time to step back in time and think about those young years, but now, 50 years later –and yes, the Moody Blues have been playing together for more than 50 years–there we were, young again for just a few hours. Remembering how innocent we were then and how we had no idea where our paths might lead made me cry. Just thinking about it now makes me feel the same way.
“Look at the stage,” my husband whispered. “Have you noticed that there are two drummers? We’ve seen that a lot with these older bands. The older drummers simply don’t have the stamina they used to, so they add a drummer.”
And sure enough, off to the right, was a second drummer. He was moving fast and furiously, while original drummer Graeme Edge’s drumming was at least half the speed. I shook my head. At that moment, a photo of the young Graeme Edge came up on the screen.
He was beautiful, no? He looked like so many gorgeous young rock stars of the era.
And here he is now, at age 74.Yeah. That said it all.
I smiled, ruefully, as the concert drew to a close and we left, maybe no wiser, but certainly older, with our days of future passing right before our eyes.