Monday, December 28, 2015

Bad Ideas In Music - The Yes Christmas Song

In 1981, the progressive rock band, Yes, had said "No" to continuing on. Following the awful album and internal bickering of the 1978 album Tormato, the band went two big personnel changes, with vocalist Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman leaving and replaced with The Buggles, Trevor Horn and Geoffrey Downes. The album they released in 1980, Drama was a remarkable return to form for Yes, but the subsequent tour was disastrous with Horn's voice being thrashed by trying to sing in Anderson's range night after night, and not being a trained vocalist.

Yes broke up with founding member and bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White trying to form a band with Jimmy Page & Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. The band, tentatively titled XYZ (ex Yes & Zeppelin) never got out of the demo songwriting and recording phase, leaving Squire and White without a band. So in 1981, they did the only reasonable thing they could think of: make a Christmas song:

"Run With The Fox" is somewhere between the levels of awful, and so awful it's comical. It opens with a flute of all things, since Yes was so well known for their flute work (they weren't), and a simple piano melody. Squire's voice, which while powerful, doesn't have much of a range beyond being a full-throated yelp, carries the tune...kind of. He's a great harmony singer, but he's no lead vocalist. 

And then there's the lyrics:

Run with the Fox
Into the wild
Into the wild in the fold

Beware of the rocks
And be prepared
Prepare for love comes and goes

What rocks? Where are the rocks? Where are we even running? Are the rocks figurative? Is the fox figurative? If the fox is figurative, why are we running with it and not with something more um...symbolic of Christmas?

Every year the revolution
One more lost before begun
While we fight our mass confusion
Thus we walk before we run

Run with the Fox
Into the wind
Onto the dawn of tomorrow

Shit just got real in that verse. Now the world is apparently in a constant cycle of warfare with revolutions beginning and ending yearly, but somehow losing. But then again, the enemy in this revolution appears to be "mass confusion" probably over whether or not we're running with an actual fox or not, and if those rocks up ahead are literal. And we need to make sure of this since we're taking that fox all the way to "the dawn of tomorrow." That's a hell of a long run, fox or not.

Let us live to tell a story
Here on Earth and out in Space
Foreward on the road to glory
History records the chase

Okay well that's even more important than I thought it was. This is a story that will transcend Earth itself and so important is it that history itself will recall it. Somehow it's recording a "chase" though, implying we're not running with the fox, we're either running after it, or it's running after us.

Run with the Fox
And sing a tune, a dreamer's tune
Run with the Fox
Across the bridge of many ways
Run with the Fox
Onto the place where dreamers bathe

Well now he's just asking things that are impossible. 1) I don't know what tunes dreamers sing, though I imagine it's probably not that coherent. 2) Most bridges go two ways, some only one depending on its width. I've seen some that go three directions, but that's more of a rarity or novelty. None of them however, have led to a place where dreamers are able to bathe themselves.

Let's just be grateful that wherever that fox ran to, it ultimately did not lead Squire and White to bathing dreamers and instead led them to this:

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