The Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward on “Tuesday Afternoon,” “Gemini Dream,” new songs: Gimme Five

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Justin Hayward’s Spirits of the Western Sky, due on February 26, 2013 from Eagle Rock Entertainment, was recorded in Genoa, Italy and in Nashville — and it sounds just as varied. On his first solo effort in 17 years, Hayward moves from acoustic balladry to soaring orchestral songs, from experiments with dance music to bluegrass.

On this edition of Gimme Five, he touches on a pair of memorable tracks from the new album, then takes us inside Moody Blues tracks spanning their career from 1967’s Days of Future Passed to their 1980s comeback in the MTV era …

GEMINI DREAM,” with THE MOODY BLUES (LONG DISTANCE VOYAGER, 1981): This No. 12 hit, co-written by Hayward and Moody Blues bassist John Lodge, marks the initial single to feature Patrick Moraz — who gave the band a retooled synth sound in keeping with the 1980s aesthetic after replacing original keyboardist Mike Pinder.

JUSTIN HAYWARD: We had to really rethink some things. Patrick Moraz, who had just joined us a few months before, his contribution was very good on that. His sounds were very much well planted in the 1980s. But I think there was a desire by those of us who were left in the band after the Octave album to try and do something special. It meant a huge amount to us that Long Distance Voyager did so well. I’m still a little sad, though, that we couldn’t carry that formula on. We tried to do the same thing with the next album, and it didn’t really work. There were some good songs on (the 1983 Moody Blues effort) The Present, but it wasn’t until the mid-1980s when I met Tony Visconti that our fortunes started to look up again.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Justin Hayward talks about his varied new solo album, his growing interest in bluegrass, and dancing around to a remix of one of his signature Moody Blues songs.]

“ONE DAY, SOMEDAY,” solo (SPIRITS OF THE WESTERN SKY, 2013): “One Day, Someday,” in a moment that will thrill long-time listeners, features sweeping orchestration very reminiscent of the Moody Blues’ signature late-1960s recordings. Hayward, who had a close relationship with orchestrator Peter Knight back then, utilized the talents of Academy Award-winning composer Anne Dudley, a collaborator from 1991’s Keys of the Kingdom.

JUSTIN HAYWARD: Peter Knight did all of the orchestral stuff on Days of Future Passed in one afternoon, in one session. I was privileged to be in the studio for that, and I was the only on in the group who was. It was absolutely marvelous, and Peter and I became good friends. He was someone that I could turn to when I needed an orchestra. If I wanted that pleasure and that thrill, you needed an intermediary, and Peter was that perfect personality. Really, it was only toward the end of Peter’s life when I found Anne, who I met through a producer called Alan Tarney. Alan and I did a song for the Moody Blues called “Bless the Wings (That Bring You Back)” — and she did the orchestration for that. It was just wonderful. Out of that came a relationship where we stayed in touch. Then I had a couple of songs on this album, “The Eastern Sun” and “One Day, Someday,” where I decided I was going to just leave my voice, my guitars and a few keyboards that I have done — and then give them to Anne, hoping that she would say ‘yes.’ Of course, it never occurred to me that she’s say yes, because she’s so busy. But she said yes, without even hearing them. We had so much fun — in particular “One Day, Someday,” it was a great session and a wonderful time.

“TUESDAY AFTERNOON,” with THE MOODY BLUES (DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED, 1967): A breakthrough moment for the Moody Blues’ second, more prog-focused line up, as the intriguingly episodic “Tuesday Afternoon” became a No. 24 charter in the U.S. Their reluctant label wouldn’t release “Nights in White Satin” from the same album until 1972, when it shot up to No. 2 stateside.

JUSTIN HAYWARD: “Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. I was a little hung up with doing tempo changes in the middle of songs. If I got bored, in order to open up another door within the song, I wanted to just go to a different type of mood. In fact, “Tuesday Afternoon” was the first time we did that. I knew by then, by the time I had written “Tuesday Afternoon,” that we were going to do this stage show that was based on a day in the life of one guy — even before we recorded the album. I already had “Nights in White Satin,” and we were already starting to learn that and play it. But there was a gap in this story of the day, so I went down to my parents’ house in the west country — and I had a dog called Tuesday, at the time! (Laughs.) Not that the dog is in the song, in any way. I smoked a little joint on the side of a field with a guitar, and that song just came out. Then, as you rightly say, London Records didn’t really want to release “Nights in White Satin,” didn’t think it was very radio friendly. But they loved “Tuesday Afternoon,” so that was the first time anybody had ever heard music from the new Moodies in America.

“IT’S COLD OUTSIDE YOUR HEART,” solo (SPIRITS OF THE WESTERN SKY, 2013): Fans will remember this as Hayward’s feature track on 2011’s Moody Bluegrass Two … Much Love CD, which included all five members of the classic-era Moody Blues edition on an album for the first time in 30 years. Hayward also explores bluegrass styles on “What You Resist, Persists” and “Broken Dream,” from his forthcoming new solo project for Eagle Rock Entertainment — and he tells us that he might be returning to this experiment again very soon.

JUSTIN HAYWARD: Eagle Rock encouraged me to do that. I’ve got a feeling they would like more bluegrass things from me in the future. But it certainly was a great pleasure to record in that style. You play guys a song, you give them a chord sheet, and then you run the whole song all together — and the takes are the takes. You don’t fiddle about afterward. You play it until it’s right, and then it’s done.

“I KNOW YOU’RE OUT THERE SOMEWHERE,” with THE MOODY BLUES (SUR LA MER, 1988): The band’s most recent Top 40 hit was a sequel, both in its theme and video, to 1986’s “Your Wildest Dreams” — as Hayward again took up the story of a man who, having remembered his first love and wondered if she still felt the same, decides to pursue her. Janet Spencer-Turner starred in both videos, which Hayward was directly involved in creating.

JUSTIN HAYWARD: It was the only time I was, and it was just for a couple of years. The record company trusted us, in the group, to script and to work on our video. Toward the end of the ’80s, the MTV era was really taking off, and record companies were getting quite rich again. All of sudden, they had a whole video department that was trying to find a job for itself. So, there was a small window when, in videos like “Your Wildest Dreams” and “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere,” the band had complete control. After that, we lost that control again, and it got screwed up. (Laughs.) That’s the way these things go.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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