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9.06-OM (Moody Blues)

Moody Blues

LISTEN

OM

[Intro]

The rain is on the roof.
Hurry high, butterfly.
As clouds roll past my head
I know why the skies all cry.
OM, OM, Heaven, OM

The Earth turns slowly round.
Far away the distant sound
Is with us every day.
Can you hear what it say?
OM, OM, Heaven, OM

[Break]

[Repeat 1st verse]

[Coda]


The ancient sacred syllable of Hindu and Buddhist traditions, OM, or AUM, was popularized for the hippie subculture by the beat poet Allen Ginsberg as a meditation device, and has since become a part of common Western culture. In the Moody Blues song, the mantra OM is the “lost chord” the group has been in search of throughout the album. The song completes the album, which ends in nearly a full minute of rising vocal chorus that eventually seems to drift away high in the sky like a prayer.

The Intro is played on sitar, flute, and synthesized violins issuing from Mike Pinder’s mellotron. The verses pass lines back and forth (one voice on the right speaker, one on the left) between Ray Thomas and Pinder, as they sing the lyrics. The opening of the break with Justin Hayward’s sitar and Graeme Edge on tabla is strongly reminiscent of George Harrison’s Within You & Without You from Sgt. Pepper (released more than a year earlier). The break continues to improvise a bit, and weaving through the spaces in between, Thomas’ flute playing, usually tied to the melody, takes on some of the jazz qualities of Traffic’s Chris Wood.

Despite every evidence that the Moody Blues had put a lot of effort into producing Om, by linking its lyrics closely to a spiritual fashion that was already passing, with the Beatles’ repudiation of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi early in 1968, this song was easily ridiculed by critics and quickly became an embarrassment to the group. At the distance of several decades, however, Om deserves to be considered now as more than a period piece. The spiritual tradition of transcendental meditation still survives, and has practitioners today all over the world.

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