One Track Mind: Jon Anderson, "Race to the End" (2012)

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Jon Anderson has gotten into the spirit of the just-started Olympics, releasing a new song that combines the anthematic echoes of “Chariots of Fire” with his patented hope-streaked lyrics. Singing amidst the games’ iconic unity image of interlocking rings, this early-1980s Anderson/Vangelis composition connects the determination and passion of these athletes with the will to overcome that resides in each of us.

He should know.

“Race to the End,” just posted to YouTube, becomes another element in Anderson’s personal resurgence since going through a series of difficult illnesses — a period that ultimately led to his split with Yes, the legendary progressive rock band that he co-founded in the late 1960s. Rather than wandering off into retirement, however, Anderson has rebounded with a new sense of determination: He’s composing, recording and touring at a dizzying rate.

In 2010-11, Anderson released two separate projects — one studio, one live — with fellow Yes alum Rick Wakeman. He then issued the well-received solo effort Survival and Other Stories, followed by a very successful solo tour and then the epic composition “Open,” issued for download last October.

By March, he had produced the digitally released track “Limitless Lives” with Italian composer/conductor Marco Sabiu, who has also worked as an arranger with Ennio Morricone, Luciano Pavarotti, and others — with a proposed full-length collaboration and 2013 tour in the works.

No, that’s not all.

Even before the arrival of “Race to the End,” Anderson had announced both his intention to release a follow up to “Open” called “Ever,” as well as a new album slated for summer release: “It’s a coordination of songs and tranquil ideas that have been hovering around me for the last couple of years,” Anderson said recently of the new studio project. Between then and now, the ever-busy Anderson will be touring into South America, with September dates in Uruguay and Brazil, too.

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Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Jon Anderson. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: FORMER YES FRONTMAN JON ANDERSON: Anderson spoke about a broad range of topics – from key musical memories with Yes to the recuperative qualities of painting, and the role the Internet might play in reviving rock music’s long-dormant progressive spirit.

JON ANDERSON – SURVIVAL AND OTHER STORIES (2011): Too often, it was like Anderson didn’t want to make a solo record that sounded too much like Yes. As interesting as these sideroads no doubt were, they gave few clues to how his own voice fit into the wider topography of the band. And they often were so idiosyncratic that only the deepest, more committed fans had the will to follow along. That is, until Survival and Other Stories, a rousing return to form that finds Anderson coming to terms with his own storied history, even as he transcends it.

ONE TRACK MIND: JON ANDERSON, “OPEN” (2011): When Jon Anderson told us earlier in the year that he was writing more “Yes-style music” these days, this — even more than his well-received subsequent solo release — was what most people had in mind: A conceptually epic piece, filled with wonderment, musical twists and a theme as broad as it is hopeful. Quite frankly, this is what Jon Anderson does. And it’s terrifically engaging, after too long spent fitting his muse into the ever-dilating strictures of Yes’ modern-day prog-pop, to hear Anderson doing it again.

ONE TRACK MIND: JON ANDERSON ON YES, VANGELIS AND SOLO SONGS: Anderson shares unique insights into some of his more memorable tracks, and a few deep cuts, as well. Go inside the creative process as Anderson and Co. complete the epic Side 1 opener to 1974’s Relayer. Get insights into working with Vangelis, and find out why Anderson made another pass at the closing track from 90125 for a solo project almost 10 years later. And, of course, there are the lasting mysteries of “Roundabout.”

JON ANDERSON AND RICK WAKEMAN: THE LIVING TREE IN CONCERT: PART ONE (2011): Anyone expecting the cosmic prog-rock journeys of this duo’s work as members of Yes must have been a little disappointed — and not just with the spare instrumentation. More striking than the lean, guitar-free musical structures was how intimate, even grounded this concert performance was. If anything, though, this album speaks to both the individual trials and the shared will to overcome for both singer Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman. Each has had to grapple against some terrifying health problems, even as Yes continued on without them.

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