Of all the hits that the Moody Blues have charted over the past 50-plus years of existence, the one big calling card for the English band is probably “Nights in White Satin.” Atmospheric, classically orchestrated, mysterious and featuring Justin Hayward's dreamy vocals, it’s not just a hit, but a classic-rock anthem.Amazingly, it wasn’t until recently that the singer and writer of the said 1967 tune really “got” it — despite the fact that he’s been performing it for decades. “I was 19 going on 20 when I wrote it, and I had no idea what it was really about. I was at the end of one big love affair and starting another, and it was not meant to be a single,” Hayward says. “It was the opposite of what a single should be!” And sure, what kind of pop hit has a spoken-word poem (written by drummer Graeme Edge and recited by keyboardist Mike Pinder) smack dab in the middle? But then, Hayward opened his email one day and someone had sent him the 2010 cover version done by soul singer Bettye Lavette. And his entire worldview changed. “For the first time in my life, I understood the song, what it was supposed to be. Her version explained it,” Hayward says, his voice brimming with enthusiasm. “I have been singing it from the heart for a long time and every word meant something, but I hadn’t understood it because it was a collection of random thoughts. But the way she did it, it made sense. And I have the feeling that her version is better than ours!” Hayward says it “touched his heart” that he later got an email from Lavette that read “Hello baby. Thanks for the song.” He’ll undoubtedly perform “Nights” and some other Moody Blues classics — which also include “Tuesday Afternoon,” “Question,” “The Voice,” “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band),” "Ride My See-Saw" and “Your Wildest Dreams.” But he’ll also dig into his surprisingly deep solo catalog, the best of which has been compiled into the new CD, All the Way, which also includes the new tune “The Wind of Heaven.” Most of this material is more quiet and introspective than Hayward's Moodies songs. And on this tour he’ll be accompanied onstage only by guitarist Mike Dawes and Julie Regins on keyboards and vocals. “Over the years, I held a few things back from the Moodies that I thought were too personal or particular. Too much ‘me, me, me’ instead of ‘us, us, us.’” Hayward says. “And that represented some kind of pain or psychological dilemma in my life that needed to be expressed. I do things
The Moody Blues arrive at Schipol Airport, The Netherlands, 1970: Mike Pinder, Graeme Edge, Justin Hayward, Ray Thomas, John Lodge.