Jon Anderson…“Don’t Kill the Whale”
“One of the biggest issues in the 1970s was the corporate interest in rock and roll that developed because the problem with corporations is the level of control that they tend to exert. Subsequently, you had the punk movement which people tend to think of in certain rebellious ways but was actually geared towards making money, the “revolution” and all of that was meant to stomp out earlier types of music. Except, I think music was meant to be much more adventurous and multi-dimensional than that. Music is meant to be more than something to be packaged and produced to make money. I was interested in more than that, I was interested in reaching people and taking them for a journey”. Jon Anderson
You’re first, I’m last
You’re thirst, I’m asked to justify
Killing our last heaven beast
Don’t hunt the whale
In beauty vision
Do we offer much
If we reason with destiny, gonna lose our touch
Don’t kill the whale
Rejoice they sing
They worship their own space
In a moment of love, they will die for their grace
Don’t kill the whale
If time will allow
We will judge all who came
In the wake of our new age to stand for the frail
Don’t kill the whale
Songwriter(s): Jon Anderson, Chris Squire
Yes are an English rock band who achieved success with their progressive, art, and symphonic style of music. They are distinguished by their use of mystical and cosmic lyrics, live stage sets and lengthy compositions, often with complex instrumental and vocal arrangements.
John Roy “Jon” Anderson (born 25 October 1944) is an English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist musician best known as the former lead vocalist in the progressive rock band Yes. He is also an accomplished solo artist and has collaborated with musicians such as the Greek musician Vangelis, amongst others.
In 1962, Anderson joined The Warriors (also known as The Electric Warriors), where he and his brother Tony shared the role of lead vocalist. He quit this band in 1967, released two solo singles in 1968 under the pseudonym Hans Christian, One of which was a cover of The Association’s “Never My Love”.
“Back in the 60s some of the best music was back when the Beatles went into the “Revolver” , “Sgt. Pepper” era. When you listen to those albums you realize that they were jumping into different dimensions and worlds that were never tried out before. The same thing with Frank Zappa, he might have had the occasional commercially viable song but he spent a career pushing those boundaries”. Jon Anderson
“In March 1968, Anderson met bassist Chris Squire and joined him in a group called Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, which had previously included guitarist Peter Banks. Anderson fronted this band but ended up leaving again before the summer was over. He remarks on his website that his time with the band consisted of “too many drugs, not enough fun”.
Anderson, Squire and Banks went on to form Yes with drummer Bill Bruford and keyboardist Tony Kaye. Their debut album was released in 1969.
“Time and a Word”
“We actually did do a show with orchestra and some of the arrangements were for orchestra so I think even at that time I was trying to re-invent a lot of ideas about how to perform onstage. It was always the bass, guitar and drums and we were incorporating keyboards which was a development to all of that. We wanted to really broaden the sounds that were available to a band onstage by using keyboards, performing YES music wasn’t just rock and roll but a hybrid of that symphonic music mixed with rock. Symphonic rock, progressive rock, they called it. I think it was a style of music that I was always interested in going back to even those days”. Jon Anderson
Anderson is recognized as the main instigator of a series of epic works produced by Yes at the time; he played a role in creating such complex pieces as “Close to the Edge”, “Awaken” and especially “The Gates of Delirium”.
“Tales from Topographic Oceans”
Anderson was fond of experimenting within the band and in so doing contributed to occasionally conflicted relationships within the band and with management. He originally wanted to record the album Tales from Topographic Ocean in the middle of the woods, and instead decided to put hay and animal cut-outs all over the recording studio. The lyrics are frequently inspired by various books Anderson has enjoyed, from Tolstoy’s War and Peace to Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha. A footnote in Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi inspired an entire double album Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973). Recurring themes include environmentalism, pacifism and sun worship.
It is a commonly held misconception that Anderson sings falsetto, a vocal technique which artificially produces high, airy notes by using only the ligamentous edges of the vocal cords; however, this is not the case. Anderson’s normal singing/speaking voice is naturally above the tenor range. In a 2008 interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Anderson stated, “I’m an alto tenor and I can sing certain high notes, but I could never sing falsetto, so I go and hit them high.” He is also noted for singing in his original Lancashire accent.
“As we get older we learn more and more, at least we should hope to. I try and find a way to take some of the things I learn or experience and put them into a song form so that people who know me or know of my music can take something from it. I’m not teaching anything, I’m just passing it on. There’s no need to view things in such black and white terms. In some ways it’s incredible that there are so many different ways of life still to this day. We have our modern world and we also have people living in caves in Chihuahua, Mexico, the Tarahumara Indians. They live in a place called Copper Canyon where they are literally living in caves as we speak, they are wonderful, intelligent and very colorful people but they still live in caves. We have bush people living in Africa, we have Aborigine people, who are not just native to Australia but are all over the world. It’s something I’ve studied, along with their music and their way of life. There are even lots of theories about these native peoples bordering on sci-fi and their connection to the alien civilizations. It’s kind of interesting stuff. If you wanna find out more you just have to use Google (laughs)”. Jon Anderson
One of Anderson’s passions is painting, and he uses his art as another channel for his creativity and self-expression. His artwork is available to view on his official website. He lived in France with Jennifer Baker at a farm in Saint-Paul de Vence for over five years from the very late 1970s, becoming friend of painters Marc Chagall and André Verdet, nearest neighbours (inspiring some of his songs and musical themes).
“There are other dimensions in this world other than earth and I’ve always been interested in that. I’m interested in the great mystery of life. Music, all music, is just connected to the journey that we’re all on. I look back at all the music that I’ve listened to over the years. I listened to Bob Marley, Bob Dylan and all these greats who inspired me and I realize I’m still getting inspired every day”. Jon Anderson
Solo Studio albums:
Olias of Sunhillow (1976)
Song of Seven (1980)
Animation (1982; re-released on CD in 2006 with additional bonus tracks)
3 Ships (1985; re-released on CD in 2007 with additional bonus tracks)
In the City of Angels (1988)
Change We Must (1994)
Angels Embrace (1995)
Lost Tapes of Opio (1996; album recorded in 1989/90, first issued in 1996 through Jon Anderson’s Opio Foundation and re-released on CD as part of The Lost Tapes 20 CD Box-Set)
The Promise Ring (1997)
Earth Mother Earth (1997)
The More You Know (1998)
Survival & Other Stories (2010)