Legendary bassist, songwriter, and vocalist of The Moody Blues, John Lodge, has embarked on a musical journey that reaches back 55 years, celebrating the anniversary of the groundbreaking album, “Days of Future Passed.” As he performs this iconic album in its entirety across the USA, Lodge fondly recollects the past while breathing new life into the music for modern audiences. He visits Detroit’s Royal Oak Music Theatre on July 21.
Speaking about his experience reviving this album, Lodge said, “I have to say I’m really pleased. Not that I’m just bringing the album to a new audience, but it’s an audience that’s rediscovering the album and a new audience that’s experiencing the album for the first time. And I’m really pleased about that because I think the album was such a changed my life and the Moody Blues lives forever and I think it’s an integral part of the music of America now.”
“Days of Future Passed” is considered a progressive rock masterpiece that paved the way for a new musical genre. Lodge played a key role in its creation, and while remembering those days, he shared, “We should write our own English blues music, really. And that’s how we conjured up Days of Future Past, really, with a record comedy. The record company wanted to make a particular record and we got a particular stage show and it was a collision of ideas.”
Reflecting on their creative process, Lodge commented, “We said to the record company, can we have the studio on lockdown 24 hours a day so we could go into the studio anytime when we wanted to be creative? You can become more creative at 04:00 in the morning and you need to capture this. And that’s what we’d be recording at 04:00 in the morning. We take a camp bed, put it on the studio, fall asleep, wake up record, and were there 24 hours a day.”
Lodge also offered insight into his approach for performing the album on stage. “When we recorded the album? The album has got a really nice feel about the album. There’s space in the album, there’s places where you can travel to in your mind with the album. And that’s how I approached it on stage because obviously the other guys sang the songs as well. But I realized that I had to immerse myself into the lyrics of the other guys. If it’s a song of rays, I had to immerse myself in that lyric, so in a way, I had to think I’d written that song myself. Because when you perform a song vocally, you have to really live that song. Believe in it. And I’ve had a great time relearning and becoming those songs.”
At the time of the album’s recording, the band had no idea how impactful it would become. Lodge admitted, “No idea at all. We were just young musicians, excited to be in the studio for 24 hours a day, total lockout. And that was really the height of our recording, was being in the studio, recording our own songs. We never thought about the success of it, never thought about what’s going to happen to it. Nothing at all. It was just magic recording our own songs for an album.”
Regarding the perspective of the music over the last 55 years, Lodge contended, “I don’t think so. It’s become more. When we first started recording Days of Future Passed, recorded on two four track machines. Nowadays, in a recorded studio, it’s added fun item, you can record forever. At the beginning, you would commit yourself to part on the bass, commit yourselves to part on the drums, guitar, because once you’ve recorded it, he was there forever. You couldn’t go back and change him anything like you can today. So that’s big. The biggest difference that for today, you can look at the track and not rerecord it, but you could look, oh, perhaps it would better to go this way than that way. In the earliest days, didn’t have that opportunity.”
The late Graham Edge, the band’s drummer and spoken word artist, plays a vital role in Lodge’s performances despite his recent passing. Edge’s voice is still heard reciting his poetry for ‘Morning Glory’ and ‘Late Lament’ during the show, thanks to the marvel of modern recording technologies. Lodge shared, “I went to Graham and I said, ‘I’m going to do ‘Days Of Future Passed’ on stage and I would really like you to record the poetry for ‘Days Of Future Passed,’ and I’d like to film you. On stage, you will always have a place with me.’ And he said, ‘John, keep the Moody Blues music alive.’ The audience reaction when Graham’s face comes up on the screen is amazing. I met Graham when I was 17, and he was in another band whom I liked very much, and I didn’t know at that time I was going to share a stage with Graham for 50 odd years together. It’s very special to see Graham narrating his own poetry.”
When asked about the evolution of his understanding or feelings about the songs on the album, Lodge maintained, “No, I don’t think so. I really try to get into the songs themselves and every song really means something to me, like ‘Dawn Is A Feeling,’ ‘The Sunset.’ They’re really integral parts of my life and the story of my life as well.”
In his quest to reimagine “Days of Future Passed,” Lodge made it clear that he wanted to stay true to the original. “I wanted to keep the album as true as possible to the original album, so the fans who were there at the beginning could rediscover it, but also a new generation of people. I want them to discover the album for themselves. The only thing I really did was make sure audibly the sound is as best I could get it on stage. The sound has got to be right. And also, I think I didn’t want it to be like a listening process playing the album. There are parts of the album where I’ve got the audience to participate with me as well, so they’re involved with the album as much as I can get them involved.”
Discussing another significant Moody Blues album, “Seventh Sojourn,” on its 50th anniversary, Lodge mused, “I’m just a singer in a rock and roll band. That’s who I am and that’s who I want to be. That’s what I do. I’ve been doing it since I was 15 years of age. The ‘Seventh Sojourn,’ my band, two of the guys from are from Detroit and they’re credible musicians and they play my songs and Moody Blues songs with such love, empathy and respect. And it’s fantastic.”
Lastly, when asked about performing in Detroit, a city with a rich musical history and many Moody Blues memories, Lodge replied, “Fantastic memories with Detroit. And of course, I’m from Birmingham, which was called the Second Motor City. The first Motor City, of course, is Detroit. We’ve got a relationship there heavy manufacturing, motor cars, but great music, some incredible music obviously came out of Detroit and incredible music out of Birmingham. For me, Pine Knob will always have a special place in my psyche, in my heart, because I loved performing at Pine Knob.”
John Lodge’s passion for keeping The Moody Blues’ music alive is evident, not only in his performances but also in his deep-rooted connection to the band’s songs. As he continues to tour, playing songs that have significantly impacted his life, he ensures that the legacy of The Moody Blues will continue to resonate with both long-time fans and a new generation of listeners.
For more about John or the new tour, visit: johnlodge.com.