This past weekend my paramour (now my wife of 15 years), Sharon and I were blessed with an opportunity to see The Moody Blues in concert at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham. From the time I was fifteen years old I have always said, “The Moody Blues”, were my favorite ‘band’. Their music and lyrics have been an inspiration to me and to Sharon. The Moody Blues write songs that, as their band name implies, are sensitive, introspective, and thought-provoking, that express their care and concern for things and issues larger than themselves. This enlightened awareness, expressed in their lyrics, and the beauty of their melodies and vocal harmonies is what has drawn me to their music for ( forty-six) years now. The tour now (then) in progress marks (marked) the 35th year since their first album was recorded.
In 1971 ( at age fifteen) I was into ‘Hard Rock’ - bands such as Jethro Tull (had already seen them perform ‘Aqualung’ and ‘Thick as a Brick’ in Louisville that winter), Led Zeppelin, Steppenwolf, and Santana (thanks to ‘Woodstock’) but I was only vaguely aware of the groups that would soon be called ‘progressive rock’, such as Genesis, Kansas, Pink Floyd, and Yes, (all of whom I love). That year I first heard the newly released Moody Blues album ‘Every Good Boy Deserves Favor’ and was enthralled by the depth of meaning in the words of their songs, and the powerful emotions their music stirred within me. This was what music was meant to be about, to call the listener to reach a higher, not a lower, state of being, unlike the merely sexual focus of rock and roll’s origins. The Moody Blues were among the first to incorporate classical orchestration into rock, becoming musical pioneers with the Beatles. And although The Moody Blues never went on to fuse jazz elements with the rock and the classical elements of their music as other progressive rock bands did in the 70’s, the beauty and truth of their songs has stood the test of time and remains some of the best music ever written in my eyes (and ears).
Beginning in 1978 in Murfreesboro Tennessee I have seen them in concert at least 17 times*. Following their first time ever performance with an orchestra at Red Rocks, Colorado in 1992, my brother Mike and I saw them twice in the Summer of 1993 and twice in the Spring of 1994 with four local orchestras, first in Nashville Tennessee , then in Louisville Kentucky, Evansville Indiana, and Lexington Kentucky, in that order. In Nashville in 1993 they played at an outdoor festival with the Nashville Symphony; we got there at noon on a ninety degree day and sat on the front row all day till the show started that evening; truly an unforgettable experience. Then in 1999 I was able to get second row (reserved seat) tickets, center stage, at an outdoor venue in Nashville with the Nashville Symphony again accompanying; another fantastic evening of the world's best music!
And so was last Friday's concert, although there was not an orchestra with them this time. It was still just as magical, with two keyboardists ‘filling-in’ the orchestral sounds at that wonderful old theatre (of Moorish-design, which had recently been restored). The acoustics were great; The Moody Blues performed one after another of their best songs off their best albums. The crowd rose to its feet and roared our appreciation after every song, making me proud of at least some of the people of Alabama, and proud that those Americans honored the Moody Blues in that way, and that enthusiastically. It was…a wonderful night.
May the magical moody music of Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Ray Thomas , and Graham Edge... Live Forever!
PS: We saw them again in 2002, 2003, 2004, and March 2008 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville- and twice in 2010! Several times since 2010 as well, including 2017 - the fiftieth year since the release of Days of Future Passed- their first album, which they played in its entirety at the Ryman in Nashville.
*( as of 2017 Sharon and I have now seen The Moody Blues in concert at least ten times together! )
© 2001-2018 Thomas Theodore Welborn