Moody Blues: To Our Children’s Children’s Children (1969)

Fifty years ago, this stunning album was released. The fourth album of the classic Moody Blues lineup.

This was the year of the moon landing, which is an underlying theme of this album. If you were alive then, as I was, your great grandchildren could be listening to this album now.

In 1969, war, pollution and the population bomb threatened our future. Seems relevant today as well.

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Ray Thomas, Mike Pinder, Graeme Edge, Justin Hayward, John Lodge

The Moody Blues were deep thinkers in their musical creativity. They could wrap lyrical observations around their cerebral soundscapes. This album was no exception. It shines as maybe the best of their works, and the most enjoyable to listen to in its entirety. Put it in the stereo and drift in the heavens with it.

There are those who might have written-off the Moodies as peace and love, long-haired hippies for the messages in their songs, but that would overlook their vast musical talent, and the insightfulness of their poetic lyrics.

The album had lush arrangements and a beautiful soundscape, but the band had a hard time playing these songs in concert, which is why their concert set avoided most of them with the exception of “Gypsy.” As I listened with headphones recently, I was reminded of the many different instruments that that decorate each song. No wonder they were reluctant trying to reproduce these sonic portraits.

As with all of the “classic” line-up albums, the songwriting was spread around to everyone in the group.  The strength of their music was always the songwriting and the opportunity to fully realize them in the studio with elaborate production and musicianship.

This album was the first release on their own label, Threshold Records, which underscores the care and detail in the songs.  This new deal gave the band more control over their music and their product.  In 1969, this would be the Moodies second release of the year, first up was On the Threshold of a Dream, another jewel with melodic and textural soundscapes of mellotron and orchestra.

I think To Our Children’s Children’s Children [1969] is the one Moodies album that didn’t come across on the radio. It didn’t jump; it was soft, it was quiet. Everybody was so delicate with it and handling it with kid gloves. The way it was mastered was quiet, and the way it was transferred to disc was delicate. In the end, it ended up getting a little lost. Watching and Waiting — when we heard that song in its studio beauty, we thought, “This is it! All of those people who had been saying to us for the past 3 or 4 years, “You’ll probably just do another Nights in White Satin with it” — no! We had shivers up the spine, and that kind of stuff. But when it came out and you heard it on the radio, you kept saying, “Turn it up! Turn it up!! Oh no, it’s not going to make it.” So it didn’t happen.” – Justin Hayward, singer/guitarist

The songs on the album were mixed to segue from one to another, gently overlapping the fade of one with the opening of the next.  Several things stand out, the lyrical references to journey, the stars and uncertainty of the future.  The acoustic guitar work powers most of these songs, supported by Pinder’s mellotron or other spacey sounding keyboards.  You get a symphonic sound to the album, without a lot of actual orchestral backing. The vocal work by the Moodies always good, is superb on this album, and features a lot of reverb which adds to the since of being far away.

Side A

Title    Writer(s)    Lead vocals   Length

“Higher and Higher” Graeme Edge    Pinder (narration)     4:07  The thunderous orchestra beginning, then the choir of voices, then the urgency of the music. Pinder narrates the poem over the soaring music.  In honor of Man climbing the heavens, higher and higher.

Blasting, billowing, bursting forth
With the power of ten billion butterfly sneezes
Man, with his flaming pyre
Has conquered the wayward breezes
Climbing to tranquility
Far above the cloud
Conceiving the heavens
Clear of misty shroud

“Eyes of a Child I” John Lodge  Lodge     3:24  A soft intro as the song emerges. The vocal work is wonderful, with Pinder’s mellotron softly providing atmosphere in the background.

Earth falls far away
New life awaits
Time it has no day
New life awaits
Here is your dream
And now how does it feel?
No words will go with you
And now what is real?

“Floating” Ray Thomas   Thomas     3:02  An upbeat song with another great vocal performance.  Floating in the heavens.  Very nice guitar work moves this song along.

Floating free as a bird
Sixty foot leaps
It’s so absurd
From up here you should see the view
Such a lot of space for me and you

“Eyes of a Child II” Lodge   Lodge  1:20  A faster version of the original, with a strong rock pace.

“I Never Thought I’d Live to Be a Hundred” Justin Hayward    Hayward   1:05  A solo guitar and voice by Hayward.  Without the heavy production, they could sound melodic and dynamic.

“Beyond” Edge     instrumental     2:59  A jarring start, the song rocks forward, with Pinder’s mellotron and Hayward’s guitar bouncing it forward.  The song fades out and then back in, it has a “Strawberry Fields Forever” kind of construction, of song fragments joined together.  Then is segues into the next song.

“Out and In” Mike Pinder, Lodge Pinder    3:50  “Gazing past the planets”  A spacey sounding song with sound texture by the mellotron that sounds like orchestral strings.  Hayward’s rocking guitar keeps it moving.  One of Pinder’s best songs, you do feel like you are cruising the planets.

Gazing past the planets
Looking for total view
I’ve been lying here for hours
You gotta make the journey
Out and in

Wonders of a lifetime
Right there before your eyes
Searching with this life of ours
You gotta make the journey
Out and in

Side B The flip side mostly belongs to Hayward and Thomas, complimented by Pinder’s keyboard work.

Title      Writer(s)     Lead vocals   Length

“Gypsy (Of a Strange and Distant Time)” Hayward     Hayward  3:33  A really nice song by Hayward, a fast song, with a serious lyrical story.  Lots of echo and mellotron add to the journey through space.

A gypsy of a strange and distant time
Traveling in panic all direction blind
Aching for the warmth of a burning sun
Freezing in the emptiness of where he’d come from
Ahhhh, ahhhhh
Left without a hope of coming home

“Eternity Road” Thomas   Thomas   4:19  A song bathed in echo supported by Pinder’s mellotron strings, and Haywards acoustic and electric guitars.  Thomas wrote songs of searching and reflection.

Hark, listen here he comes
Turning, spinning, catherine wheeling
Forever changing
There’s no beginning
Speeding through a charcoal sky
Observe the truth, we cannot lie

Traveling eternity road
What will you find there?
Carrying your heavy load
Searching to find
Your peace of mind

“Candle of Life” Lodge Lodge, Hayward  4:15  An underrated song on the album.  Pinder’s piano is shimmering, along with his mellotron.  Lodge and Hayward provide a great vocal performance.

Something there outside
Says we’re only
In the hands of time
Falling slowly
It’s there for us to know
With love that we can go
Burn slowly the candle of life

“Sun Is Still Shining” Pinder    Pinder   3:40  A song that could have on Magical Mystery Tour, an Eastern vibe, with the Indian instruments adding sonic texture.

“I Never Thought I’d Live to Be a Million” Hayward   Hayward   0:34  A brief version of the longer song.

“Watching and Waiting”  Hayward, Thomas     Hayward   4:16  A beautiful song, released as a single, it failed, which is no reflection on the quality of the song.  Hayward’s guitar and Pinder’s mellotron make this song, but Hayward delivers a soulful and haunting vocal.

Watching and waiting
for someone to understand me
I hope it won’t be very long

The universal quest; who hasn’t wondered this?

Everyone has a favorite Moody Blues song, but more serious fans debate which is the better album.  They all have their strong points. Overall, in terms of writing and production, To Our Children’s Children’s Children is on the select list of “best.”


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