Yes, it may be hard for baby boomers to believe, but the Moody Blues – featuring guitarist Justin Hayward, bassist John Lodge and drummer Graeme Edge – are touring in support of the 45th anniversary of “Days of Future Passed,” their groundbreaking concept album that takes the listener on a day-long journey from “Tuesday Afternoon” to “Nights in White Satin.”
“The Moody Blues: The Voyage Continues – Highway 45 Tour,” as they’re calling their current road trip, is making a tour stop at Proctors in Schenectady at 8pm on Thursday (April 5), and we had the opportunity to chat with the band’s drummer (and poet laureate) Graeme Edge last week:
Q: Hi. How are you doing?
A: Not bad for an old fart.
Q: Well, at least you’re still out there playing.
A: Oh yeah, but there’s really no way around it. Once you hit 70, you’ve entered advanced middle age.
Q: And you’ve got another birthday coming up soon, don’t you?
A: Yes, I guess I do. It’s on Friday (March 30).
Q: What do you think your bandmates will get you for your birthday?
A: Oh, I don’t know, but I bet the boys can’t top what they bought me for my last birthday. They called it an “all-terrain walker.” They bought me a walking frame and painted it camouflage.
Q: But at your “advanced middle age,” do you sill enjoy the touring?
A: We’re loving it. In fact, we’ve slipped four new songs into the show. Well, they’re not new songs, but they’re new old songs, not brand new songs. Two of them, we’ve never played before. One we played very briefly in the ’80s and one is an old favorite that we bring back for a couple of years and then drop it back out again. It’s always good to play some different songs, but you’ve got to pay attention to the pacing of the show – the tempos and the keys.
Q: So no thoughts of retiring?
A: Oh no. You’ll never stop us from playing live while we can still do it. Well, I guess the only thing that would stop us is if nobody booked us.
Q: Has there been any thought about recording a new Moody Blues album?
A: Well, there’s thought about it all the time. Won’t somebody please come and make us an offer? The thing is that nowadays what we would recognize as record companies don’t really exist anymore. There are no A&R men or anything; they’re just distribution networks. Basically, the music is all front-room stuff – it’s all production – these days, which is why all of today’s music sounds so similar. You don’t listen to a new record and recognize, “Oh, that’s Deep Purple. Or that’s Black Sabbath. That’s Jimi Hendrix. That’s the Moody Blues. That’s Pink Floyd.” It just all sounds quite a bit alike, doesn’t it?
If we were younger, I’m sure we could find a way to make a new record happen. But we’ve all got such full lives now after all these years – wives, children, grandchildren. There are lots of other things to do.
Q: Well, you’ve out here now touring in support of the 45th anniversary of “Days of Future Passed,” which is a truly classic rock album by any standard. Not only for the melding of rock and orchestral elements, but also for the use of poetry and spoken work in a rock context. How did that come about?
A: Well, it actually came about more by accident than by design. We were making “Days of Future Passed,” and we were short of material about the morning section of the day – from dawn til afternoon. Being musicians, we didn’t really know much about the morning. So I wrote a piece, but we couldn’t really make it into a song because there were just way too many words. By the time we would have put it all together as a song with choruses and everything, it would have been about a half an hour long.
Mike (Pinder, the Moody’s keyboardist) actually spoke it, not me. He had a good lead over me with cigarettes and whiskey, so he had a much more sonorous voice.
Q: When did you start writing poetry?
A: I always did. When I was about eight or ten years old, as a school assignment, we had to write a composition about what we would do if we had something like $100 to spend. And I wrote mine in rhyme because it just came naturally to me that way. So then the teacher asked if he could keep the poem, and in turn he introduced me to the poetry of Byron, Keats and Shelley. And that really got me started.
And I would have to say that the romantic poets are still my biggest influences. There’s nothing Beat about my poetry – no Ginsberg or Kerouac. As a poet, I’m always looking for something that everyone can relate to.
Q: And so now have you finally put your poetry together into a book?
A: Yes. The book features the poems from the Moodies and my solo albums. And it’s almost like a scrapbook with little odds and bits and unfinished poems and other ideas. There’s a song called “A Coconut Christmas” that never made it onto an album, and that’s included in there as well. And then there are little stories or anecdotes that go along with almost every one of the poems, too.
Q: Is the book done? Is it available on this tour?
A: Yes, we’ve got it out there with the other merchandise. It’s selling well, and people are saying nice things about it.
The Moody Blues step into the spotlight at Proctors in Schenectady at 8pm on Thursday (April 5), celebrating the 45th anniversary of their classic album, “Days of Future Passed.” Tix are $20, $50, $60, $70 & $85.