The Pillars of Prog, Part 2 – Nights in White Satin

Musically, the British are much better than us Americans at admitting the failures of modernity, especially as it relates to how we interact with each other as humans. Steven Wilson so brilliantly lamented the isolation of the city in his 2015 masterpiece Hand. Cannot. Erase. Before that, Andy Tillison of The Tangent masterfully critiqued the contemporary 9-5 lifestyle in 2013’s Le Sacre Du Travail. Long before either of these artists, however, The Moody Blues commented on typical modern life in their 1967 concept album, Days of Future Passed.

In part 1 of this series, I argued that King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” started progressive rock as we came to know it. I still stand by that remark, but I’ll add that The Moody Blues were certainly an integral pioneering band in this genre. Looking back, Days of Future Passed is certainly a progressive rock album, but it is not prog as Yes, ELP, or Genesis later popularized the sub-genre. King Crimson sparked a very particular sound that The Moody Blues likely influenced but did not directly spark. What Black Sabbath did for heavy metal, King Crimson did for prog. With that said, Days of Future Passed deserves attention in this series. Specifically, I’m going to look at “Nights in White Satin,” the most well-known and probably most influential track on the album.

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