Tag Archives: Moody Blues

Full Circle – End of the Honeymoon Series

I’d planned to review one more album before ending the Honeymoon Series, but upon further investigation, the lyrics to that album turned out to be so fucking stupid that I had to abandon my plans. I’ll spare the artist a blast of altrockchick vitriol and move on.

“I need a closer to the Honeymoon Series. The album I chose didn’t work out. Do you remember any other memorable music from our trip?”

Alicia thought for a moment, then said, “No, I don’t. But what I do remember is the song we sang at the wedding.”

“But that was pre-honeymoon,” I said, stuck in my honeymoon paradigm.

“I don’t know . . . to me it feels right . . . like going full circle.”

“Ah, the end is in the beginning, the beginning is in the end.”

“Something like that.”

I spent a minute or so on the pluses and minuses before saying, “Yeah. I think that’ll work.”


As you already know, our plans for a simple wedding went awry and the guest list mushroomed from four to forty-two in a very short time frame. In response to the building chaos, I had to make some compromises. The official ceremony would still take place in la mairie with brides and parents only and then we’d hold an unofficial ceremony for the guests at the park.

The unofficial ceremony was my mother’s idea. She suggested we set up the chairs in such a way that the brides could have their classic walk down the aisle. As there wouldn’t be a priest, pastor, reverend or Moira Rose waiting for us at the end of the walk, maman thought we might want to use the opportunity to exchange custom-made wedding vows. As I knew there was no way we could top David’s and Patrick’s vows on Schitt’s Creek, I nixed that idea.

“Then why not sing ‘your song’?” my mother suggested. “You both have beautiful voices.”

I thought for a minute, came up blank and asked Alicia, “What’s ‘our song’?”

“I don’t think we have one.” Actually, we have a lot of “our songs” but they’re all on various fuck playlists and I suspected that my mother had something more PG-rated in mind.

“Wait, it’s coming back to me. Isn’t it ‘I’ll Never Find Another You?'” Alicia then sang a few bars in response to the blank look on my face.

“Oh yeah, that’s right.”

My mother interjected, “If you have a hard time remembering that song as your song, how meaningful is it?”

She had a point. I called up the song via Apple Music and while it brought back memories of our early days together, the lyrics seemed to be missing something and I felt uncertain about hitting Judith Durham’s high notes under the pressure of live performance.

Maman then made a song suggestion that both Alicia and I fully embraced. It would take some work to pull it off—we’d have to use a boom box to play the song’s opening segment for our walk down the aisle then cut off the music at the exact moment of transition, leaving Dad a nanosecond to launch the middle segment with his 12-string and open the way to our vocals. Instead of switching back to the boom box for the closing segment, we’d just end the performance right there. The night before the wedding we rehearsed the transitions three times and felt pretty good about our chances. In the end, it all worked like a charm.

The song my mother suggested was “Question” by the Moody Blues, a song that has special meaning for both of us. You may wonder why a song that Justin Hayward wrote over fifty years ago would mean anything to a couple of Millenials who hadn’t even arrived on the planet when it came out—especially a song from the Moody Blues, who are often associated with the love-peace-and-happiness scene of yesteryear.

It’s simple: history is not linear but circular. What goes around comes around. We still have war. We still have hate. We still have persecution. We still get no credible answers from our leaders.

And we still crave love.

“Question” is unfortunately and fortunately timeless. From Songfacts:

The song is a concert mainstay of The Moody Blues, which is fine with Justin Hayward, who tells us he never loses the emotion for it when he performs the tune. It’s also a song that has remained relevant. Says Hayward: “There’s no doubt that it still resonates, the lyrics reflect whichever generation you’re in. Whatever time you’re in, people are experiencing those emotions. And I find that people identify with it at any age.”

During the how-are-we-going-to-pull-it-off phase, my father asked, “Do you really want to include the opening? It doesn’t seem particularly wedding-y.” I immediately responded, “Hell, yes! That’s what gives meaning to the love we feel for each other.” I really didn’t care if the guests jumped out of their seats in response to Mike Pinder’s mellotron blasts or were disturbed by Justin’s hyper-speed strumming or found the references to death and war highly inappropriate. I’m not impressed by love songs that ignore the reality of the world we live in and the sociocultural pressures that make bonding a challenge for all couples, straight, gay or whatever. I’ll take “Luckenbach, Texas” over “Your Song” any time. This is our reality:

Why do we never get an answer when we’re knocking at the doorWith a thousand million questions about hate and death and war?‘Cause when we stop and look around us, there is nothing that we needIn a world of persecution that is burning in its greed

Alicia and I could have saved ourselves a whole lot of trouble had we agreed to marry the guys who proposed to us. LBGTQ+ people exist in a world of persecution and hate. While we have it pretty good in France, the fact that ten countries prescribe the death penalty for homosexuality is never far from our minds. Every day we read stories of anti-gay persecution and hate crimes from all over the world. We’re fully aware that the red states have formed the United States of Homophobia and that the right-wing religious zealots on the Supreme Court anxiously await the day when they can overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, effectively invalidating gay marriage. The hatred, cruelty and violence suffered by trans people is beyond disgusting.

War? Right now we have a war raging on the EU borders instigated by an unstable, homophobic maniac and Joe Biden just threw fuel on the fire with his gift of cluster bombs. Greed? Greed is eternal and its consequences are manifested in record-high income inequality that serves to destabilize societies everywhere. Justin Hayward fully understood that in such an ugly world, it’s not enough to love—you have to fight for it:

Why do we never get an answer when we’re knocking at the door?
Because the truth, it’s hard to swallow, that’s what the war of love is for

We arrived at the park, smiled and waved at everybody, then locked arms and walked to the head of the aisle with bouquets in our opposing arms. I took a deep breath and gave maman the nod to start the music. We timed it so that we would start our walk on the third “ta-da” from Mike Pender’s mellotron, a blast of power that we felt would give us confidence as we took that first step. Though the opening is blazing fast, we walked at a pace of one step per measure so we wouldn’t arrive at the “altar” too early. I’m sure that people noticed my completely spontaneous and unchoreographed ass shake when Graeme Edge entered with his famous drum riff, but hey, it was my wedding and if I felt the need to shake my ass, I had every right to do so, dammit! Maman cut the music at just the right moment, Dad launched into his soft strum without a hitch and Alicia and I turned to face each other, looking directly into each other’s eyes.

She was so beautiful.

Since Alicia and I share similar ranges, we decided to flip our roles between the two verse/chorus parts. As my range is slightly higher than hers, I sang high harmony in the first part while she took the melody, leaving me with responsibility for the melody in part two where Justin Hayward climbs the scale beyond Alicia’s comfort zone.

It’s not the way that you say it
When you do those things to me
It’s more the way that you mean it
When you tell me what will be

We both smiled when singing the line “When you do those things to me.” We love being naughty little girls.

And when you stop and think about it
You won’t believe it’s true
That all the love you’ve been giving
Has all been meant for you

I interpret this verse as “I will give you all the love you need because I know you will give me all the love I need.” We have complete trust in one another; the love flows both ways.

I’m looking for someone to change my life
I’m looking for a miracle in my life
And if you could see what it’s done to me
To lose the love I knew could safely lead me through

Alicia turned out to be the miracle in my life but at the time we met I was feeling pretty burned out from a series of unsuccessful relationships and had pretty much given up looking for “the one.” I certainly didn’t expect to stumble into “the one” at a marketing conference, but that’s what happened. The funny thing is that both of us tried our best to get out of attending. I argued with my boss that it was a waste of my time, to which he responded, “Have a nice trip.” Alicia came to the conference because the marketing guy in her firm came down with something and she was the only person available. “But I’m an accountant,” she argued. “Take good notes,” her boss replied.

I thank my lucky stars for the miraculous appearance of the two asshole bosses who unwittingly brought us together—our version of the three wise men.

Between the silence of the mountains
And the crashing of the sea
There lies a land I once lived in
And she’s waiting there for me

But in the grey of the morning
My mind becomes confused
Between the dead and the sleeping
And the road that I must choose

This verse reminds me of something I told Alicia early in our relationship before we had sex. Once the conference ended, I flew back to Seattle while she flew back to Miami, where she had taken a job to gain international experience. Over the following two months, we talked on the phone nearly every day, sharing all our secrets and all our faults, holding nothing back. In our last chat—just before she flew to Seattle to spend a week with me—I shared with her what was most important to me in a relationship: “A relationship can never be an obligation. It must always be a choice. If we’re going to have a truly loving relationship, we have to wake up every morning and say to ourselves, ‘I choose to be with this person.’ We have to consciously and voluntarily choose to be with one another every single day. I never want you to feel trapped and I never want to feel trapped.”

And that was the road we had to choose.

I’m looking for someone to change my life
I’m looking for a miracle in my life
And if you could see what it’s done to me
To lose the love I knew could safely lead me to
The land that I once knew
To learn as we grow old the secrets of our souls

That last line is one of the most insightful and beautiful lines Justin Hayward ever wrote, and he wrote some real beauties. “To learn as we grow old the secrets of our souls” is the raison d’être for an intimate relationship, the symbiosis par excellence. There is no greater learning platform than the one offered by an intimate relationship, for in giving yourself completely to another person and receiving complete giving in return, you acquire a greater understanding of self-and-other that in turn can lead to greater empathy with other human beings. There’s no end game because human beings change and grow, so a truly intimate relationship is an endless journey of mutual discovery. I hope with all my heart that Alicia and I never forget that.

It’s not the way that you say it
When you do those things to me
It’s more the way you really mean it
When you tell me what will be

I love that subtle insertion: “The way you really mean it.” You may recall when Alicia expressed her firm desire to marry me, I responded, “You really want this? I mean really want this?” I recall experiencing a flood of emotions when I said those words—fear that marriage would make us more vulnerable to hate crimes, fear of losing my independence, disbelief that someone could want me so much that she was willing to risk everything just to be with me and the contrary emotion that came from knowing that Alicia loved me to the depth of her soul. Vulnerabilities never really go away; they’re always there beneath the surface, the scars from previous hurts. I am lucky to have found someone I know I can go to when I’m feeling fragile, and I wish the same for all of you.


That concludes the Honeymoon Series. Though the music selected offers little in the way of thematic coherence, I’ve given the series a spot on the menu bar—an online version of a wedding memento.

I sent this out a bit early because we need some time to prepare for our summertime relocation to Ireland this weekend. Dad hired a group of stout Irishmen to assist in a cottage remodel to give us more privacy and comfort and I’m looking forward to inspecting his work so I can bitch about the things he missed. The weather in Nice is simply unbearable right now with heat and humidity warnings every day, and the reason I didn’t say “every fucking day” is that it’s impossible to fuck in such horrible weather unless you’re an iguana.

Looking at the altrockchick forecast, I happened to notice two disturbing trends in my reviews this year. Over half the reviews have involved 70s music and I’m starting to feel like I’m stuck in an endless episode of Kojak. And much to this femi-Nazi’s surprise, I’ve only reviewed one album by a female artist (Tracy Chapman). In response, I’ve moved the broads up in the schedule along with a few non-70s requests and pushed Neil Young and the Dead back to the fall. I think they’ll survive the delay.

In closing, I’ve found myself in a “share the love” mood lately and I’d like to leave you with an excerpt from another great Justin Hayward composition as a friendly reminder of what is truly important in life:

Give just a little bit moreTake a little bit lessFrom each other tonightAdmit what you’re feelingAnd see what’s in front of you,It’s never out of your sight.You know it’s true,We all know that it’s true.