The sounds in my mind just come to me.
Come see, come see.
And the call of her eyes makes waterfalls
Of me, of me.
In the garden of her love I'll stay a while
To be, to be
What the seeds of her thoughts once mean to me.
Come see, come see.
Visions of paradise,
Coudless skies I see--
Rainbows on the hill,
Blue onyx on the sea
Come see. Ah...
[Repeat 1st verse, split into couplets]
With the album In Search of the Lost Chord, the Moody Blues ditched the symphonic orchestra the group had used for Days of Future Passed, and started playing all the instruments themselves. Wikipedia counts over thirty different instruments on the album, including sitar (played by Justin Hayward), tambura (played by Mike Pindar), oboe (played by Ray Thomas), and cello (played by John Lodge). Mike Pindar continued to use the mellotron to produce string and horn embellishments. The effect in Visions of Paradise, which centers on flute and acoustic guitar with sitar accents, is a bit like that of the Incredible String Band (who also naively picked up any instrument around and gave it a go), but the Moodies are not quite as wild or adventuresome. In fact, Visions of Paradise is rather sedate and relaxing; actually pretty—an attribute difficult (but certainly not impossible) to find in psychedelic music.
In Search of the Lost Chord captures a moment that is among the last of the instances of sitar playing with the classical instrument in psychedelic music, and among the earliest (with Traffic) to feature a flautist. Unfortunately, the flower power imagery used in Search of the Lost Chord was already moving into the residual phase of the psychedelic aesthetic by the time of the album’s release. Like the Grateful Dead, they came to recording psychedelic music rather late in the game, so that the use of sitar (by both the Moodies and the Dead) was already beginning to sound a bit anachronistic in the Summer of 1968. By the time of the album’s release, with its praise of Timothy Leary and transcendental meditation, LSD had become less of a spiritual facilitator and more of a party drug. At the distance of nearly a half century, of course, I am less likely to be swayed by the vicissitudes of fashion, and give it a free pass to the Psychedelic Masterworks. At the time, however, the album was only mildly successful, reaching only so far as 23rd position on the U.S. Billboard chart. Neither of the two singles released from the album charted well either.
Visions of Paradise is in the form of a pastorale; one can easily imagine shepherdesses in the English countryside. The flute melody is well executed by Ray Thomas, even though the sitar sounds a bit superfluous, providing just enough “psychedelic” sound so as not to call the song “folk music”. I’m afraid the lyrics are a bit of a mess: To be what the seeds of her thoughts once mean to me? Even changing “mean” to the past tense “meant” doesn’t help to produce meaning, symbol or imagery from the line. The song seems constructed only to form a peaceful, attractive place in one’s mind. I imagine lying in a field of clover looking up at the sky without a care in the world. Particularly if one is stoned, it’s a nice place to be. Just don’t fall asleep for lack of excitement and miss the rest of the album.