We know how much The Beatles influenced Yes. But could Yes have influenced one of the Beatles? Paul Watson explores this amazing revelation.

Late 1973 saw a couple of amazing musical things happen. One of them was the release of Yes’s epic concept album, ’TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS’ and John Lennon’s track, ‘MIND GAMES.’

TFTO    mind games


Let’s see… Going back a few years before that Alan White was drumming for Lennon in 1969 on a number of things such as the Imagine album and touring with the ex-Beatle and his band. Years later John actually expressed over the telephone to Alan that he was a big Yes fan. That “he loved the band.”

alan john.JPG

John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Alan White 1970 performing Instant Karma! on Top Of The Pops.

Of course we know how much a big of a fan of The Beatles Yes were. When they started playing back in 1968 they were covering Beatles’ tracks, and Sgt Pepper’s was a great inspiration and blueprint to where they would take Progressive Rock in years to come. You only have to listen to “Your Move” to appreciate that. And what about the line – “Send an instant karma to me, initial it with loving care“? This has been attributed to a reference to Lennon’s ‘Instant Karma’ that came out a couple of years before. Yes even has a Beatles cover of  “Every Little Thing” on their first album. Even now Jon in concert likes to tell fans how much he loves John Lennon and his music.

paramSo by 1973 Yes had their groove on following the “Perfect Wave” album release of ‘Close To The Edge’ and to top that Jon and Steve huddled down in various hotel/motel rooms while on tour to pen what would become ‘Tales’ inspired by Paramahansa Yogananda’s self-help book, ‘Autobiography of a Yogi‘ (1946) and founder of the Self Realisation Fellowship. That’s important here because this is where either by coincidence or/and synchronicity comes into play by the simple fact that in 1967 while in the Beatles George Harrison started writing the track, ‘See Yourself,’ to which he accredited inspiration of the song to Paramahansa Yogananda. See how this works? Small world, right?

jon steve

So looking back to 1973 we see with these two events the ducks are lining up in a row, but this is where it gets really spooky. Maybe the connection doesn’t stop there.

Move forward to a couple of hours ago and I’m on my way to work caught in morning traffic once again, but fear not, my faithful car stereo is blasting out songs by the score, literally. Usually I’m listening to either a Rock podcast or Yes/Prog/Rock albums or tracks loaded and compiled on a USB stick, but today I have a taste for a compilation of top 20 hits from the 60’s/70’s/80’s. Billy Joel is rubbing shoulders with Jimi Hendrix who is followed by Fleetwood Mac and the Beach Boys, with Deep Purple bringing up the rear with ‘Burn.’ I’m zoning out in some places, either concentrating on the cars in front of me or mulling over who I’m arguing music with on many of the Yes fan pages. And then for some reason I’m concentrating on John Lennon’s voice crooning out ‘Mind Games’ and maybe it’s the sheer and happy coincidence he’s singing…

“Yes is the answer and you know that for sure

Yes is surrender you got to let it go”

… and I’m thinking of Yes and I’m speculating, could John be wondering and singing about the band as well? If he is then I’m in total agreement with him on that. “Yes is the answer…” and we do “know that for sure.”

And then comes the next few lines….

“So keep on playing those mind games together

Doing the ritual dance in the sun”

“Ritual”? “…dance in the sun”?

Let’s go look at the third track on Tales From Topographic Oceans and ‘Ritual – Nous Sommes du Soleil

” Nous sommes du soleil. We love when we play.”

The first part of this track, “Nous sommes du soleil” which is, I’m lead to believe in French, translates as “We are of the Sun.” So we love when we play in the Sun from where we came from, perhaps. A “Ritual” which John also mentions about dancing in the sun. A happy coincidence? Or did John get to hear parts of the album before it was released? Or did Jon get to hear “Mind Games” before it was released? And if you look at the lyrics as a whole in Mind Games John is getting all spiritual and cosmic and really in a place Jon knows so well. Jon would later on go on to co-write Mind Drive for ‘Keys to Ascension.’ Coincidence?

And what about both tracks being filled with glorious and uplifting mellotron? Coincidence?

Did these two great men have a meeting of the minds at this junction in their careers and put pen to paper?

Let’s look at the facts.

Both tracks came out relatively at the same time.

Both artists loved and admired each other’s work.

Both have worked with Alan White.

Both layered their songs with mellotron.

Both probably knew of Paramahansa Yogananda.

Both were used ‘ritual’ and ‘sun’ in their lyrics.


We probably shall never know the truth but as Jon and John says…


tfto inside

‘Open doors we find our way

We look we see we smile

Surely daybreaks cross our path

And stay maybe a while’


– Ritual: Nous Sommes du Soleil – Yes



“Putting their soul power to the karmic wheel

Keep on playing those mind games forever

Raising the spirit of peace and love”

– Mind Games – John Lennon


  1. Dave Kerman

    While you mentioned Yes’, YOUR MOVE, citing the possibility that *instant comment* may have been a response to *instant karma*, you didn’t mention that, in this very song, Yes are singing Lennon’s lines, *All we are saying is give Peace a chance*. Or was this a deliberate oversight ? Peace, man.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dave – I was very sparing in this piece for a number reasons, the main one being that it revolved around a number of questions being put out there based on speculation. I also didn’t want to write something indepth or layered, as really this who article was directed as a challenge to the various Yes fan pages to interact on and build it collectively. In others words, lay down the bones and we all get to add the meat, so to speak, metaphorically speaking. My Yes friends no me as someone who could fill a 100 pages just talking about what shampoo Jon Anderson uses. I purposely thinned this down to a few paragraphs and left it open ended.


  2. Kurt Benit

    Also, Mind Games has the same beat as the ‘Let them run, let them chase . . .’ section of Ritual, and although in C (Ritual in E in this section) it has a descending progression similar to that in this section of Ritual.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. TV

    “Instant comment” sounds like a play on “Instant Karma” same type of word play much in the same style that John Lennon had been known for… i.e.: “I got a fever” -” I got a feeling.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Cosmic Chants Yogananda Lyrics

  5. I am so glad I stumbled upon this article! Thank you for writing it. I too have noticed similarities (synchronicity really) between YES and the Beatles. Lennon in particular.
    The word “YES” was supposedly the word that brought John and Yoko together. John met Yoko at her art show at the Indica Gallery, and one of her art pieces was a ladder with a magnifying glass, which one was to use to view a word on the ceiling. When John climbed that ladder, and saw that the word displayed on the ceiling was “YES” he was intrigued. And so began the story of John and Yoko-
    Post Beatles- a short-lived idea of a band consisting of George, John Ringo, Billy Preston and friend Klaus Voorman were going to be called the “Ladders” for that very reason stated above.
    so… yes! yes! yes! Love the article. Thanks 🙂



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