Almost thirty years ago, a band which had been around since the late 1960s released the biggest hit of its career, "Owner of a Lonely Heart." With a captivating video which made a huge splash on the rapidly emerging MTV, the song soared to number one in the USA, the most successful song the band YES had put out until then, or since.
YES is one of those bands which had many members, evolving and changing over the years. It continues putting out music even today, over forty years since the band was formed. Tight, well sung harmonies by tenors with crystalline voices punctuate the work of YES over its career. The music, not the personalities of the band members, has dominated the history of the band.
"Owner of a Lonely Heart" is a challenge to avoid the limiting force of fear. It encourages listeners not to allow apprehension to thwart their dreams. It says essentially "take a chance and see what happens." While the video is somewhat bizarre, it gives the viewer the feel of being in a very dynamic dream, one in which the dreamer feels beleaguered and beset with various problems, both real and imaginary. The video's answer to the quandary is to let go and embrace the fear to overcome it.
While "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was the biggest hit of YES and certainly worthy of its accolades, one of my favorites from the group is a song which many have never heard. It is perhaps the best song ever written about playing the game of chess. "Your Move" combines a knowledge of playing chess with the dynamic of a romantic relationship.
"Your Move" alludes to the power and majesty of the Queen, the most powerful piece on the chess board. While the capture of the King is the goal, he is a weak player on the chess board, able to move only one square in any direction, and unable to move into check. But the Queen can move in any direction, as far as the board and other pieces will allow her. She rules the roost on the chess board.
The song seems to allude to both the bishop and the knight. "Move me onto any black square" seems to be speaking of one of the two bishops a player has. One bishop is confined to only black squares, while the player's other bishop must remain only on white squares. This makes the bishops' moves always diagonal.
Another part of the song's lyrics seems to speak of the knight and its move, which is one square over and two squares back or forward. "Don't surround yourself with yourself, move on back two squares." Failing to heed this warning will result in the loss of a piece which cannot be extricated because a player has surrounded his pieces with too many of his other pieces. As this lyric notes, better to retreat to fight another day.
"Your Move" preaches a positive view of engaging our world: "Take a straight and stronger course to the corner of your life." If it is tight, well sung, close harmonies by skilled singers, a band with both rock and techno sounds, and words which have meaning for life, YES remains a band whose songs retain their strength and their messages.
© 2012, Jim “Pappy” Moore,
All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home. firstname.lastname@example.org