Friday, December 15, 2017

In Praise of the Moody Blues

When I first began blogging in early 2015, I was taking an online course about political campaigns, and the professor (a campaign consultant) asked us to blog every week. I had never blogged before and wasn't sure I'd be good at it, but I gradually got used to doing it.  Since the course ended, I've generally blogged every other week, and that still seems like the right number for me. When I blog about politics or sports or popular culture or religion, I average between 200-300 readers, for which I am grateful. (I never expected to average more than the students & the professor in that online class!)

But if I write about Rush, the fans flock to my blog and suddenly readership soars: my two most-read pieces this year were about the band-- one refuted the rumors of a Lee-Lifeson reunion (2977 readers) and the other was about Neil's retirement (13,648 readers-- an all-time high total for my blog). I could read these trends two ways-- nobody cares what I have to say unless I'm talking about Rush; or people do care, but they know they can get views on those other topics in many places, while the views I can share about Rush are unique to me (and to my experiences as someone forever associated with the band's history).  Either way, I came to the blogosphere with no expectations, and I'm happy that some of my blog posts have really resonated with readers.

This week's post could easily have been about political upsets (kudos to Doug Jones for defeating Roy Moore) or my views on the Republican tax plan (big giveaway to the wealthy, guaranteed to help Mr. Trump and his family more than it helps you and me) or how upset I am that a partisan FCC repealed Net Neutrality (while the mainstream media waited till after the vote was taken until they finally covered a story that will soon affect us all).  But instead of controversial topics, I'd like instead to focus on something that unites us, rather than divides us--music, and in this case, classic rock.

As you know, I've had my share of disagreements with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, whose animosity towards Rush was well-documented.  When they were finally inducted, I felt as if a wrong had been righted.  And to be honest, I feel the same way about the Moody Blues.  I've been a fan of their music since "Go Now" (which I played when I was a college deejay).  Although their music is very different from that of Rush, the two bands have several things in common: a passionate fan base, and critics who treated them dismissively.  I'm among the many who have spent years writing and petitioning and asking for the Moody Blues to be inducted, but until now, they were ignored by the judges (much like how the guys in Rush were ignored for years).

Personally, I've always loved the kind of music the Moody Blues did; sometimes it was progressive, sometimes it was pop, sometimes it blended genres unique for that era (like doing an album with a classical music orchestra).  The band's creativity always impressed me:  "Nights in White Satin" (which wasn't a hit the first time it was released in late 1967, but scored big the second time around in mid-1972) was one of my favorite romantic ballads.  I still love "Ride My Seesaw," "Never Comes the Day," "Gypsy," "I'm Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band," "Question," "Your Wildest Dreams," and Justin Hayward's solo tune "Forever Autumn," just to name a few.

As a former deejay, music director, and radio consultant, I met a lot of musicians over the years. Many were a disappointment-- conceited, crude, caught up in the "rock and roll lifestyle." That's what made Rush so special to me-- as I've said many times, success never spoiled them.  So, after being a Moody Blues fan (and playing their music) for years, I finally had the privilege of meeting them circa 1986, when I was consulting a Rhode Island radio station then known as RI-104. I admit I'd had a crush on Justin (he was definitely a hottie, and female fans all agreed), but it was gratifying to find out that he was not just another good-looking rock musician.  He was also a kind and down-to-earth person, not arrogant, and not taken with his own fame (again, the parallels to the members of Rush).

So for now, let me put politics and other topics aside and just say that I am really happy the Rock Hall decided to honor the Moody Blues. For more than three decades, they gave us listenable and interesting pop songs and creative album tracks.  Most of their music has aged well, and in fact, some of the original members are still performing.  There are some other bands and solo artists in this year's class of inductees who also deserved to get in, but growing up during the 1960s (a contentious time when so many things in society were changing), albums like "Days of Future Past" and "In Search of the Lost Chord" still bring back memories for me.

I will never forget that period of time-- 1968-1969, long before I went to Cleveland, long before I met Rush, when I first got my chance to be on the air; when album rock was becoming the dominant music on many college campuses, and FM was gradually gaining in popularity.  It was an incredible era for music, an incredible era for radio, and an incredible era for being a fan of rock and roll.  I'm glad I was able to play some of those songs back then; and I'm glad that now, some of the bands who were part of that era are finally getting the respect they deserve from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

No comments:

Post a Comment