Certain Songs #1201: The Moody Blues – “Legend of a Mind”

Album: In Search of The Lost Chord
Year: 1968

At least partially because I never could stand “Nights in White Satin,” which seemed to be played on every damn radio station ever and always, I never quite grokked the epic silliness of The Moody Blues.

That said, when most of their other singles came on the radios, rockers like “Ride My See-Saw” and “Question” or even “Tuesday Afternoon,” I enjoyed them enough to at some point take a flyer on their two-disc best-of This is The Moody Blues during my mini-prog phase in 1977-1978.

But outside of the singles, the only song that ever stuck with me was the soaring “Legend of a Mind,” one of the most explicit LSD songs ever written, given that it’s a paean to — I was going to say “the founder of acid,” but that’s Albert Hoffmann — the biggest acid proselytizer, Dr. Timothy Leary.

Timothy Leary’s dead
(No, no, he’s outside looking in)
Timothy Leary’s dead
(No, no, he’s outside looking in)
He’ll fly his astral plane
Takes you trips around the bay
Brings you back the same day
Timothy Leary, Timothy Leary

It’s funny that I was attracted to this song, because based on my limited experience with pot — and remember, we’re talking about 1970’s pot — I was pretty sure that I was never ever going to try acid. But “Legend of a Mind” alternated between chilled-out acoustic guitar passages that didn’t have too much flute or mellotron, and huge swooping soaring choruses that made Timothy Leary seem like the most important person in human history.

Which I assume, of course, was the point, especially at the end, which actually came closing to rocking out, albeit with a multitude of deep-voiced Ray Thomas overdubs. Thinking about it, the ending of this song would have freaked me the fuck out had I ever heard it on acid, so that’s a bit counterproductive.

“Legend of a Mind”

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