Yes, “It Can Happen” from 90125 (1983): YESterdays

“It Can Happen,” the third single from Yes’ 1983 blockbuster 90125, contains a balanced mixed of progressive elements and rock sensibilities. The song harkens back to the Cinema sessions, and was primarily composed by Chris Squire and Trevor Rabin.

Squire’s prominent bass swoops and dives across the sonic range, even while it tangles with Alan White’s rock-steady back beat. Rabin employs an electric sitar which competes for attention and recalls the hey days of the world greatest progressive rock band. The keyboards, a sparse combination of piano and polyphonic string textures never upset the melody.

Lyrically, “It Can Happen” doesn’t touch the mysticism of Anderson’s typical lyrics, but they do match the streamline profile of Yes’ music – and the album overall.

It’s a constant fight
A constant fight
You’re pushing the needle to the red
Black and white
Who knows who’s right
No substitute you’re born you’re dead
Fly by night
Created out of fantasy
Our destinations call

Rabin’s middle and end guitar solos also build on the melodic hook, propelling the song forward.
Vocally, Anderson delivers the lyrics in a straight-forward manner. Only in the last verse do things perk up with the interplay of Chris Squire and Jon Anderson’s intertwined voice propelling the song towards the end guitar solo, and up into the stratosphere.

This is, indeed, heady stuff for a pop song: “It Can Happen” took Yes to No. 51 on the pop charts and No. 5 on the rock charts. This perfect combination of rock and progressive elements is what makes Yes’ 90125 so successful.

Still, I’m at a loss as to what Jon Anderson contributed to the song musically or lyrically. The Cinema version, available on the deluxe reissue of 90125, shows Chris Squire and Trevor Rabin built a very strong track – and Squire’s vocals are just as convincing as those which replaced him.

Preston Frazier’s YESterdays is a song-by-song feature that explores the unforgettable musical legacy of Yes. The series runs every other Tuesday.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
  • Brian Sullivan

    I think Mr. Anderson rewrote some of the lyrics, since the 90125 version is different.

    • Preston Frazier

      I have to listen to them again. It’s such a subtle difference.