“End of an era” is really about the only way to start this piece.
Chris Squire, the bass player from Yes passed away this past week. Normally I wouldn’t take the time to write about a musician who had just passed away, but I have a small handful of bands that so influenced me growing up and playing in bands that I thought I’d put a few words down on paper.
My Yes introduction was well before their big comeback with 90125. In the early 80’s my cousin Dave and I were in a couple of bands together in Buffalo playing high school gyms and learning our live craft with a steady stream of The Police, The Pretenders, The Clash, Boston, and some other 3-5 chord specials we could pull off live at our young age.
But Yes was different. We’d practice Starship Trooper to see if we could pull it off and to this day I warm up for practice or gigs with sections of that song always culminating in the superfly Würm section. As a guitar player, these 3 chords have been with me for 35 years.
But the memory I think I most have of this music is “Heart of the Sunrise”. The sheer skill it takes to play this music is formidable. With Yes it always seems to be a combination of chops, memory, and touch.
On some Fall/Winter weekends around 10pm, my cousin and I (and a bunch of other high school kids) would walk a few miles into the fields near Williamsville (near Buffalo) where there’d be 40 or 50 other high school kids in the middle of the freezing cold Buffalo Fall/Winter throwing what else….? A field party with a bonfire, beer, and boom boxes with cassettes – and often the music was Yes.
That was the musical temperature of the day if you were 17.
Nobody today writes music like that. It was thoughtful. It told a story, there was drama, it had an ethereal quality to it.
And it was built to be performed. You had to be “on”. The risk of messing it up live was alway there and when you got through it it meant something.
So this week I’ll be playing Yes in my house for my kids to hear so they too can know what Yes and Chris Squire we’re able to create, play, sing, and offer the world.
Here’s the Heart of the Sunrise track if you want to turn it up and peel away the layers of this music where Chris Squire’s bass and unique choral vocals stand out.
Bonus – go for this classic South Side of the Sky with the unbelievable middle section of vocals, drama, and resolution where you’ll see how big Chris Squire was the high vocal over it all.