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#2841719 - 03/14/17 06:43 PM The Inspiration Behind Roundabout
HammondDave Offline
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An interesting read revealing some fascinating facts. Including how Chris Squire achieved that iconic bass sound. ROUNDABOUT
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#2841721 - 03/14/17 06:52 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: HammondDave]
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Must be a subscriber. Rats!
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#2841725 - 03/14/17 07:09 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: mate stubb]
HammondDave Offline
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Damn.... now, to be clear... i am NOT a subscriber to the WSJ!
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#2841728 - 03/14/17 07:26 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: HammondDave]
J. Dan Offline
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Copy the article and paste it here?
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#2841729 - 03/14/17 07:30 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: J. Dan]
MotiDave Offline
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I think HDave should read it to us.
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#2841760 - 03/14/17 10:08 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: MotiDave]
Marzzz Offline
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Basically, Jon Anderson was stoned...

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#2842185 - 03/16/17 09:37 AM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: Marzzz]
wd8dky Offline
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Originally Posted By: Marzzz
Basically, Jon Anderson was stoned...


"Mountains come out of the sky, and they stand there..."

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#2842194 - 03/16/17 09:53 AM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: wd8dky]
AnotherScott Online   content
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Originally Posted By: wd8dky
Originally Posted By: Marzzz
Basically, Jon Anderson was stoned...


"Mountains come out of the sky, and they stand there..."

Funny thing is that I was driving one day and suddenly got the reference. There was a dense low fog in the distance, with mountains rising out of it, so the mountain tops seemed kind of suspended in mid-air. The way he put it was as good as any. ;-)
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#2842205 - 03/16/17 10:37 AM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: AnotherScott]
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When he was here in Perth doing his show with Jon A, Rick said the inspiration was a roundabout not far from here (that's a circle to any Dundee forum readers).
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#2842207 - 03/16/17 10:44 AM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: AnotherScott]
Wastrel Offline
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Originally Posted By: AnotherScott
Originally Posted By: wd8dky
Originally Posted By: Marzzz
Basically, Jon Anderson was stoned...


"Mountains come out of the sky, and they stand there..."

Funny thing is that I was driving one day and suddenly got the reference. There was a dense low fog in the distance, with mountains rising out of it, so the mountain tops seemed kind of suspended in mid-air. The way he put it was as good as any. ;-)

This happens a few times a year around LA - at least down here in the South Bay. The perpetual haze takes a break and the foothills just pop up out of nowhere. I've been here for almost 40 years and it still surprises me. Where did those come from?
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#2842233 - 03/16/17 12:20 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: Wastrel]
Mark Schmieder Offline
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Oh, so it's basically their take on the same subject matter as Harrison's "Blue Jay Way" then!
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#2842236 - 03/16/17 12:22 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: Mark Schmieder]
Mark Schmieder Offline
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OK, so I get to see all of one paragraph of the linked story. :-(

Is the "stoned" statement from the article, or a hypothesis? My understanding from when I first started following Yes with their third album, is that they were all about positivism, holistic living, etc. I can see how that MIGHT include occasional cannabis use, but I think they were philosophically opposed to drugs in general.
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#2842342 - 03/16/17 10:04 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: Mark Schmieder]
Marzzz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark Schmieder
Is the "stoned" statement from the article, or a hypothesis?
The article specifically quotes Jon Anderson about smoking pot at the time.

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#2842388 - 03/17/17 06:00 AM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: Marzzz]
flatfender Offline
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I'm not a WSJ subscriber either, I found this soundfact about Roundabout. Dunno how it compares to the WSJ article.

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=8492

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#2842433 - 03/17/17 09:17 AM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: flatfender]
HammondDave Offline
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Sorry guys... Here are the interesting points:

They were stoned and driving to a gig.

Jon was just writing words as they were driving along... Saw the Roundabout. Driving in and out of Valleys. In and around the lake... The Mountains up in the sky were standing there. Eagles flying... He missed his wife so he wrote "I'll be there with you..."

Wakeman doubled the bass lines.

They wrote and recorded the song in sections and spliced it all together.

The intro had a doubled low E note played on a piano and played back in reverse.

Wakeman just noodled arpeggios on the Hammond over the structure of the song.

He later added the Moog parts.

...and the most interesting: Chris Squire doubled his bass line with a Gibson guitar... Creating what we all thought was a distinctive "Rickenbacker sound".


Edited by HammondDave (03/17/17 09:27 AM)
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#2842435 - 03/17/17 09:24 AM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: HammondDave]
HammondDave Offline
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GOT IT!!!!

Born in Britain with classical and psychedelic influences, progressive rock boomed in the early 1970s with the rise of FM radio and affordable stereo systems. One of the era’s most popular prog rock bands was Yes, thanks largely to “Fragile,” the group’s fourth studio album, released in 1971.

“Roundabout,” the album’s sole single, climbed to No. 13 on Billboard’s pop chart in early 1972 while “Fragile” reached No. 4 for seven weeks. On April 7, Yes will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Recently, “Roundabout’s” co-writer and Yes guitarist Steve Howe along with co-writer and lead singer Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman recalled the hit’s evolution. Today, Mr. Howe continues to record and tour with Yes, while Mr. Anderson and Mr. Wakemen, who recently released “Piano Portraits” (Universal), are members of the band Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman. Edited from separate interviews.

Jon Anderson: I began writing the lyrics to “Roundabout” while traveling with the band in a van through Scotland in late March 1971. Yes was on tour then, and we had just performed in Aviemore the night before.


Anatomy of a Song

In the van, we were heading south to Glasgow, about a 3˝-hour drive. There were mountains and lakes everywhere.

I had smoked a joint, so everything was vivid and mystical. As we drove along, we encountered a fair number of “roundabouts,” what you in the States call traffic circles.

At one point, the road dropped into a deep valley and ran next to a large lake. Low clouds covered the mountain peaks.

I took out my little notepad and started writing. I wrote the lyrics in a free form and didn’t edit the lines much. I just loved how words sounded when I put them together:


“I’ll be the roundabout / the words will make you out ‘n’ out” expressed how I felt as the song’s words came to me fast, the way cars navigate roundabouts.

I expected to be in the van for several hours, so I was spending “the day your way, call it morning driving through the sound of in ‘n’ out the valley.”

“In and around the lake” was the road winding through the region. Down in the valley, the mountains seemed to “come out of the sky and stand there.”

I was married then, and I knew I’d see my wife in a day: “Twenty four before my love you’ll see / I’ll be there with you.”

Steve Howe: In Glasgow, we checked into our hotel, and Jon and I got together in my room with a cassette recorder. Eventually we had this minor feel for the verse that resolved in a major key for the chorus.

But the song’s biggest advance came that August in a London rehearsal studio, when keyboardist Rick Wakeman replaced Tony Kaye in the band. Rick was more interested in the technology direction we wanted to take.

Mr. Anderson: Rick revolutionized our sound. He added multiple keyboards, which gave us more textured possibilities.

At the rehearsal studio, I sat on a chair in the middle of the band and listened to what they were developing. If what they were working on wasn’t happening, I’d make suggestions.


“Roundabout” wasn’t difficult to sing. But as the band’s vocalist, I needed to know where the song was going. They often looked to me to figure out what should come next so the vocal and instrumental worked together.

Mr. Howe: In September, when we went into Advision Studios in London to record “Roundabout,” we used their 16-track tape machine, which let us layer the instruments. The song became pure magic.

Mr. Anderson: The rhythm track was recorded first, in segments. The band would rehearse one segment at a time and then record it. Then they’d move on to the next segment, always mindful of the song’s progression and structure.

Steve planned to open the song by playing something of a Scottish jig on his acoustic guitar. He had played it for me earlier at our hotel.

Mr. Howe: My opening acoustic guitar part was played on my 1953 Martin 00-18. But we felt the song needed something more dramatic to start. We found it with a backward piano note. When you strike a single piano note and hold it down, the sound starts loud and then fades away. We wanted this to happen in reverse.

We recorded Rick holding down a piano note, and then we turned the tape reel over and started the song where the note was faintest. What you hear on the record is a note going from faint to loud, as if it’s rushing toward you.

Rick Wakeman: For the piano-note intro, I simultaneously played the lowest E on the studio’s grand piano and the E an octave higher. The octave gave the note a fatter feel.

Chris Squire wanted a funky sound on the bass, sort of a Sly and the Family Stone feel. I played organ arpeggios over the top with my right hand as my left hand played Chris’s bass notes to add weight.

Mr. Howe: When we finished the rhythm track, Chris overdubbed his bass track using my Gibson ES-150 electric guitar, which had a Charlie Christian pickup. It wasn’t terribly loud, but it was effective, giving him an eight-string bass sound.

On the organ, Rick was adventuresome, allowing the rest of us to see a wider sonic path and plenty of room for experimentation.

Except for my acoustic Martin at the start, during the ballad passage in the middle and at the close, I used a 1961 blonde electric Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster throughout.

Mr. Wakeman: On most of “Roundabout,” I played a Hammond C3 organ. Later, I overdubbed a Minimoog when the song slows to a ballad about five minutes in and Steve plays acoustic guitar. I also added a Mellotron for flute sounds when Jon slowly sings, “In and around the lake.” The Mellotron gave the passage a “Strawberry Fields” mood.

Mr. Anderson: Once the instrumental track was done, I went into the studio early one day with just the engineer and recorded my lead vocal while listening to the music through headphones. When the other guys came in, we recorded the harmonies.

Finally, we reached a point where the song had to end. I thought, let’s do something totally different and sing harmony, like the Byrds or the Beach Boys.

I started singing “Dah dah-dah-dah, dah, dah, dahhh.” Then we all started singing that in harmony. We added it onto the end of the song.

If you listen carefully, you can hear Rick singing three notes against the grain of what we were doing. They’re the notes to “Three Blind Mice,” and it sounded intriguing.

Mr. Howe: To close the song, I decided to mimic what I had done on my Martin guitar at the beginning. But I ended on an A-flat chord, which the ear doesn’t really expect.

Mr. Anderson: A couple of days after we finished “Roundabout,” the band went into the studio to listen to it on the big speakers. When the song finished, I thought, “Oh my gosh, it’s so good.”

I looked around at everyone. It was an interesting feeling. My conscious self was glowing. I thought, “I can’t believe this is happening in my life at this moment in time.”

—Marc Myers is the author of “Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B and Pop” (Grove).


Edited by HammondDave (03/17/17 09:27 AM)
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#2842439 - 03/17/17 09:48 AM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: HammondDave]
Wastrel Offline
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Wow. Great interview! Thanks for posting this.
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#2842444 - 03/17/17 10:10 AM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: Wastrel]
AnotherScott Online   content
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I had seen that before... I think it was published somewhere else before WSJ got it. Teamrock maybe?
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#2842526 - 03/17/17 04:14 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: AnotherScott]
MotiDave Offline
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Mr. Anderson: A couple of days after we finished “Roundabout,” the band went into the studio to listen to it on the big speakers. When the song finished, I thought, “Oh my gosh, it’s so good.”

True that.

a piano octave note recorded backwards? huh. thanks HD, loved it. yessongs had such a huge musical impact on me. thank goodness I didn't know it was prog or what prog was!
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#2842528 - 03/17/17 04:27 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: MotiDave]
AnotherScott Online   content
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Originally Posted By: MotiDave
a piano octave note recorded backwards? huh.

Yep. I used to do that intro by voluming off on my piano sound, striking the notes as hard as I could, then use the volume knob to bring it in in. These days, I could program it, or heck, just sample the sound off the album. ;-)
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#2842542 - 03/17/17 06:37 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: AnotherScott]
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I sampled the 2 E notes and 2 C notes from my piano, then reversed them and triggered them from the sampler. Sounded perfect, but the dance floor cleared so fast that we decided that playing it live in public once was enough. And we really worked to get all of the parts right!

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#2842545 - 03/17/17 07:23 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: dougb415]
HammondDave Offline
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Originally Posted By: dougb415
I sampled the 2 E notes and 2 C notes from my piano, then reversed them and triggered them from the sampler. Sounded perfect, but the dance floor cleared so fast that we decided that playing it live in public once was enough. And we really worked to get all of the parts right!


F**k the dance floor! That songs rocks when played right!
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#2842564 - 03/18/17 04:14 AM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: HammondDave]
SteveCoscia Offline
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Originally Posted By: HammondDave
Mr. Anderson: The rhythm track was recorded first, in segments. The band would rehearse one segment at a time and then record it. Then they’d move on to the next segment, always mindful of the song’s progression and structure.


Love this. Great article.

It's encouraging to learn that others create whole art in chunks or "segments" over a period of time. What a thrill during the first listening, when all the chunks come together as the whole.
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#2842626 - 03/18/17 10:33 AM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: MotiDave]
HammondDave Offline
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Originally Posted By: MotiDave
Mr. Anderson: A couple of days after we finished “Roundabout,” the band went into the studio to listen to it on the big speakers. When the song finished, I thought, “Oh my gosh, it’s so good.”

True that.


Unfortunately I can only imagine what that must have felt like.

Although I do remember how I felt when I first heard that song in the early 70's.... That snare sound... that bass sound... those vocals... and that organ solo!

I've been a Yes fan ever since.


Edited by HammondDave (03/18/17 10:35 AM)
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#2842741 - 03/18/17 07:32 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: HammondDave]
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Yep, that was the song that got me into Yes. I've tried a few times in a band situation,I always come up short. One of those bucket list things.
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#2842752 - 03/18/17 07:48 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: cphollis]
Mark Schmieder Offline
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Wow, that's the most detailed I've heard yet on the genesis of that song. And I had no idea Squire had doubled his bass part on a hollow body arch top guitar! I'll have to give that trick some thought now and then...

FYI, where I came from (at the time), "stoned" most often referred to heroin use.
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#2843105 - 03/20/17 11:31 AM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: Mark Schmieder]
Wastrel Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark Schmieder


FYI, where I came from (at the time), "stoned" most often referred to heroin use.

Interesting. When I came to SoCal in the '70s people referred to being high on pot as "loaded". Back east -where I had come from - we said "stoned". idk puff 'Loaded" meant you were drunk.
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#2843134 - 03/20/17 01:53 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: Wastrel]
GDP Offline
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Originally Posted By: Wastrel
Originally Posted By: Mark Schmieder


FYI, where I came from (at the time), "stoned" most often referred to heroin use.

Interesting. When I came to SoCal in the '70s people referred to being high on pot as "loaded". Back east -where I had come from - we said "stoned". idk puff 'Loaded" meant you were drunk.


Stoned AND drunk meant you were "blasted" rimshot !

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#2843137 - 03/20/17 02:02 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: GDP]
Mark Schmieder Offline
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Just the other day, I received my copy of "Straight from the fridge, dad", which is a collection (with illustrations and descriptions!) of a century's worth of hipster slang.

I'll have to look up some of these words when I get home, to see what they say.

Meanwhile, BBC today has an article about the "invention" of heterosexuality a century ago, to originally mean a disorder! Then it slowly morphed to describe the "norm".

For us older folks, I imagine the new generation coming along now, will alter the basic meanings of so many of our words that we will soon (if not already) find ourselves incapable of understanding the language anymore.
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#2843306 - 03/20/17 10:40 PM Re: The Inspiration Behind Roundabout [Re: Mark Schmieder]
Shutoku Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark Schmieder
OK, so I get to see all of one paragraph of the linked story. :-(

Is the "stoned" statement from the article, or a hypothesis? My understanding from when I first started following Yes with their third album, is that they were all about positivism, holistic living, etc. I can see how that MIGHT include occasional cannabis use, but I think they were philosophically opposed to drugs in general.

I was under the same impression at one time, but it is a false one.
Rick being the exception...he of course was a drinker, but the rest were all pot heads.
Actually just a year or two ago Anderson mentioned in an interview he still likes to trip on mushrooms about twice a year. He is definitely deeply spiritual, but I think for him mind expansion is a big part of that, whether achieved through meditation of herbal substances. I think he is pretty anti-drug with anything harder though. Squire had a period of heavy cocaine use that was problematic.

Yes are the second Beatles for me. The first song to grab me was"The Revealing Science of God", then "Close to the Edge". Fragile was my third Yes album and Roundabout was just so perfect in every way. A lot of Yes fans are tired of it as the inevitable encore live, but that studio version is still pure magic.

About a year ago, a jam I play at, we did Roundabout. The bass player was a guy I played in bands with in highschool and we were just hard core Yes fanatics. The guitar player also sang because he can hit those notes. The drummer had no prior knowledge we were going to try it.
I actually was only using a Korg Kross and created a combi that allowed me to get everything with a few splits and button pressing, including the intro. I knew it was originally a reversed piano, but I had to mix some strings in and flange it a bit to get the right sound.
We actually did quite well! a bit of a train wreck in the triplets before the third verse (2:25 in) but otherwise it was good. In fact, this jam is in the lounge at a casino, and people started poking their heads in from the casino to hear what was going on. Huge applause when it ended and I can honestly say people were pretty amazed we pulled it off....and more so that we attempted it! It was far from perfect, but for what it is and no rehearsal, it was pretty great.

I know Rick says the organ solo was the first take. Bruford had told him it's ok to play it safe when running through it, but once the record button was pressed, to go for it.
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