Can you make sense of any Yes song lyrics?

I was going to take you to task for inappropriate apostrophe use, but since it’s a Yes lyric, I guess I really can’t.



Now go and download that album!

People pay attention to Yes lyrics? And worry that they don’t make sense?

I suspect a deficiency in plasma cannabinoids.

I did!!

I find it is a great album to listen to while getting a massage.

It seems Tolkienesque in some ways…


I dare you to not to air guitar this.

or keyboard it. :cool:

From 1970-1978, I rarely understood any of Yes’ lyrics. In the Sixties and the Eighties, when they were more pop-oriented, I generally did understand the lyrics, which were far more straightforward.

About a year ago, Jon Anderson was doing a one-man unplugged/storytellers show here in Austin, at the intimate One World Theater. After he finished “Yours Is No Disgrace,” someone called out “What does that song mean?”

Anderson actually asnwered: “People always ask me what my songs mean.** I **don’t know what they mean.” He then giggled and took a puff on an imaginary joint, cracking everybody up.

I’d figured that out a long time ago, but as a teen, I wasted a lot of hours trying to decipher the profound meaning I was sure those lyrics held.

I’ve never smoked pot, and a lot of them make perfect sense to me. Some real good story-telling in some of them. Specificly, Gates and pretty much the whole* Going For the One *album.

You want incomprehensible lyrics? Look no further than The Blue Oyster Cult. :smiley:

Isn’t “Tales from Topographic Oceans” supposed to be a concept album about tantric sex? :confused:

Just today, I took “The Yes Album” out of my car’s CD player and put in the perfect summer album, the Candy Skins’ “Fun”. Kudos if you’ve ever heard of it; my college’s radio station had the whole album in heavy rotation during the summer of 1993, and I’m guessing that this was probably the only place that did. It’s a shame too, because it’s terrific, and sounds best when the temperature is over 80 degrees, which it definitely is here right now.

Okay, let’s compare. First, Yes.

*Yesterday a morning came, a smile upon your face.
Caesar’s palace, morning glory, silly human race,
On a sailing ship to nowhere, leaving any place,
If the summer change to winter, yours is no disgrace.
Now BOC:

Clock strikes twelve and moondrops burst
Out at you from their hiding place
Like acid and oil on a madman’s face
His reason tends to fly away
Like lesser birds on the four winds
Like silver scrapes in may
And now the sand’s become a crust
Most of you have gone away

With Yes, each sentence fragment in “Yours is No Disgrace” makes sense, but taken as a whole it’s a mess. OTOH, “Astronomy” manages almost two whole lines in a row that make sense, and by the end the entire song comes together as Summer’s end outside a bar on a Long Island beach. With plenty of beer and dope.

MORE COWBELL! :smiley:

(Ever since that classic SNL skit aired, Eric Bloom has had to deny persistent rumors that he is dead.)

Remember the multiple versions of the video for “Leave It” - and then they went with that really strange version? At the time, I worked with a black woman who described it this way: “There’s these men, and they all be flipping around…”

Only the 4th side: “Ritual.”
Lay upon me, hold me around lasting hours
We love when we play

“Hold On” seems to make much less sense than “Heart of the Sunrise”

Talk the simple smile
Such platonic eye
How they drown in incomplete capacity
Strangest of them all
When the feeling calls
How we drown in stylistic audacity
Charge the common ground
Round and round and round
We living in gravity

Shake - We shake so hard
How we laugh so loud
When we reach
We believe in eternity

“Heart of the Sunrise”

Love comes to you and you follow
Lose one on to the heart of the sunrise
How can the wind with its arms
All around me

Lost on a wave and then after
Dream on on to the heart of the sunrise
How can the wind with so many around me
Lost in the city

Lost in their eyes as you hurry by
Counting the broken ties they decide
Love comes to you and then after
Dream on on to the heart of the sunrise
Lost on a wave that you’re dreaming
Dram on on to the heart of the sunrise
How can the wind with its arms all around
How can the wind with so many around me
I feel lost in the city

Then comes the batshit-insane lyrics of “Close to the Edge”

(If you’re hearing that sick bass and drum groove right now, you’re welcome)

A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace,
And rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace,
And achieve it all with music that came quickly from afar,
Then taste the fruit of man recorded losing all against the hour.
And assessing points to nowhere, leading ev’ry single one.
A dewdrop can exalt us like the music of the sun,
And take away the plain in which we move,
And choose the course you’re running.

Down at the edge, round by the corner,
Not right away, not right away.
Close to the edge, down by a river,
Not right away, not right away.

Crossed the line around the changes of the summer,
Reaching out to call the color of the sky.
Passed around a moment clothed in mornings faster than we see.
Getting over all the time I had to worry,
Leaving all the changes far from far behind.
We relieve the tension only to find out the master’s name.

I kind of hate when I hear any reference to Owner of a lonely heart because that was the only song people knew from Yes, and it made them seem like a one hit wonder.

9012Live and Big Generator actually had a few good songs on them. Leave it stands out.

I can feel no sense of measure
No illusions as we take
Refuge in young man’s pleasure
Breaking down the dreams we make real

Like them or not, they were an epic band, almost literally.

Make sense? No, but I like the impressions they create, which can sometimes be very rich in imagery … though other times not so much, like most of Close To The Edge. I do like the “I get up I get down” part of that, though, including the backing vocal interplay. But the rest of the words, as I read them above I don’t even recognize them, despite having mentally learned nearly every note played by guitar, bass, and keyboards, on the Yessongs version. Ah, my misspent youth!

Ah, the memories. Yessongs was the second album I ever bought - $5.99 for the three-disc set at Sound Warehouse! - and I still fondly remember the anticipation as I walked home with it.

My favorite band. As a teen, now as a 51 year old. Adore the music, enjoy the random messiness of a lot of Jon’s lyrics.

You don’t like poetry, don’t read or listen to it ! :smiley:

Lurve me some YES.

ETA: The standard huge sign writ onto a bedsheet, hung from the upper level railings at The Spectrum in Philly:


The lyrics of ‘The Clap’, ‘Five Percent For Nothing’ and ‘Cans and Brahms’ made perfect sense to me…

Probably among the most accessible of Yes’s songs, from a lyrical standpoint. :slight_smile:

“Their lyrics could often be obscure to the point of extreme esotericism. Compared to more traditional lyrical forms, Yes lyrics are like a mobile of metaphysical phrases and symbols. According to one source, the lyrics were one of the reasons Bill Buford and Rick Wakeman later left the band, so if you feel uncomfortable with them, you have good company. For me, the sound of the music more than compensates for the lyrical deficit. I just hear the lyrics as ‘metaphysical scat’ and avoid trying to make sense of them; they’re often quite euphonious and blend well with the music.” – altrockchick, April 23, 2023

I’m late to the party, but Changes seems to be pretty clear.

Other than that…