“The shape of it is perfect,” Bill Bruford once said of the title track of the 1972 Yes album, CLOSE TO THE EDGE. It’s hard to dispute Bruford on this. If Yes wrote a perfect track, it is certainly “Close to the Edge.” Other songs might be more innovative, more melodic, more complex, or quirkier, but no other Yes song matches the intensity of “Close to the Edge.”
In his own recollections of writing the song, Jon Anderson claims to have been influenced by a dream, and the dreamlike imagery is rather strong. He also believed it to be a comment on the various Christian churches all vying for superiority, with the song actually introducing a “majestic church organ” with a Moog, itself replaced once again by “another organ solo rejoicing in the fact that you can turn your back on churches and find within yourself to be your own church.”
Frankly, Anderson’s explanation sounds like bizarre, New Age, hippie bunk. Folks creating their own religions has usually led to fascism, communism, terrorism, and Jonestown. At least historically.
But, does it matter? Honestly, I’ve been listening to this song–repeatedly–since childhood. I doubt if there’s another track that I more prefer to listen to with headphones. It’s the perfect headphone track.
And, whatever individualist screeds Anderson might offer in hindsight, the song contains these lyrics that are, simply put, at the very heart of all Stoicism and Christianity:
I crucified my hate and held the word within my hand.
Past Second Springs:
- Kevin McCormick’s “Storm Front”
- The Fierce and the Dead, “Part I”
- Big Big Train, “The Permanent Way”
- Talk Talk, “April 5”
- Ayreon, “One Small Step”
- Pure Reason Revolution, “Bright Ambassadors of Morning”
- Sarah McLachlan, “Fear”
- Oceansize, “Massive Bereavement”
Inspired by Craig Breaden’s brilliant 104-part Soundstream, I’ve decided to post music that reveals that rock and jazz (and some other forms of music) are not the end of western civilization, but the culmination of western civilization up to this point in time. A second spring, if you will.