"A great insight into the back-story of Yes-man Howe. There is not much doubt that he would always have been a musician. If he hadn't succeeded with Yes, he would have played for whoever paid the bills as long as he could live and breathe music. A really talented man that luckily for us found his home in Yes."
"Yesman Steve Howe: A self-assessment"
By Pamela Holman New Musical Express February 5, 1972
The idea of CLOSE TO THE EDGE was born with the murmur of river water
THE REAL BRAIN OF YES
When we were introduced at the Crystal Palace festival site, the first thing Jon told me was that his brother [singer Tony Anderson] is in Spain with Los Bravos. Maybe it was this which made it easier for us to chat with him, when it was barely half an hour to the beginning of the performance of his group. He is short, he always has a wallet in his hand, he is extremely nervous, even though later on stage he is quite calm. He has a very personal sense of things, as you will see through this dialogue.
Mr. Anderson, can Close to the Edge be the job to pass to Yes’s posterity?
—You never really think that a certain album will be successful or not. I did not compose the lyrics and music thinking of releasing “a masterpiece”. Emerson, Lake & Palmer made "TARKUS” without foreseeing the subsequent apotheosis. There are people who wonder where I want to go with my compositions. I wonder if I know their caliber. You can write about love, the moon or … spring; or you can even ask yourself what is the political state of the earth … but they are questions that cannot be answered exactly. The idea of "Close to the Edge" was conceived with the murmur of river water and then progressively began to develop music … it is difficult to explain the context of the album.
Would you say that the album is a reflection of yourself, and of your way of thinking?
—In a way yes. It is the first thing I have actually written that is a fact concerning me. The rest are dreams that I would like to see. The only thing to transmit is your vibrations, your concerns about a particular topic.
If this album is a reflection of your mental and emotional state, was it difficult to transfer this state to the rest of the band to release an album like this?
—Not exactly, because a band that stays together for a long time seeks the utopia of musicality at all times. That is not saying much considering that each one can expose what they want, since we are five heads to think and not one that directs the others.
There is no leader in Yes. I am the oldest of all and in certain things I can approve or suggest some projects, but on a musical level, I am not above them. I really can plan the future of the band faster than them, but simply because they are less complex within the group, I mean that they only contribute once, while they have to continually improve themselves both technically and musically.
According to your latest statements, Yes will have a long life as a group?
—And the best way to get it is to play less in England to the public, and when it is done, it is to offer something really worked and superior. In this way the band does not wear out and renews energies. To achieve longevity you have to progress and offer people a job that they appreciate. After the tour in America, with Alan our new drummer, everything went so well that we are planning to record a new album to present his possibilities and those of the band, in general, in this new stage. In any case, it is also a matter of hard work for eight years that Yes has been running. In eight years, there is plenty of time to perfect and know the direction that has been taken. It is now when I myself begin to savor our own music. I am embarking with my companions on a journey whose trajectory we already know, now we must take advantage of it.
Why do you give such a spiritual and religious meaning to your lyrics?
—People in general are realizing the importance of the Earth, that we have to save it, saving ourselves with it. It is not a question of saying, we are going to clean this lake or this river of pollution. The planet Earth has all the ingredients to save us and if we look at it in perspective we will realize better. Hence the meaning of certain compositions of ours. I am very concerned about people who vote for a party or do something systematically, because they have been told to do so. You have to make sure. In our last performances in the United States, I told the crowd from the stage to vote, but vote for what they believe and not for a certain political fashion leader, simply because they can.
The moment of the performance is approaching. Our talk now transpires at the back of the stage. We talk about Spain and the difficulties of performing in our country. Anderson says that the reason why they don’t come play in Spain entirely depends on managers. Chris Welch, the most important music journalist in England, arrives. Jon introduces us and the photo is testament to the friendship between Jon and Chris. Our dialogue continues…
Before you told us that you care more than the other components of the future of Yes, what is that future?
—That cannot be stated for sure. I never believed that: Bill was going to leave the good way. And he did. I never thought he was going to be replaced and yet there is Alan. I don’t know … we have talked about many innovations that have not come to fruition, but they are waiting there. The future, although we form it unconsciously, is taking shape without realizing it. We work, we investigate in the music and without noticing it we are establishing that future, even with the perfection and experience that we seek. It seems to me that we have been lucky and have learned directly from the experiences of other groups. I do not explain or conceive of one of us speaking ill of others in the future, as John Lennon is doing with Paul McCartney. John in his lyrics speaks of beauty, love, peace, union and then in interviews he bathes Paul in the mud. I hope we have not joined primarily to make music. I don’t know if we will continue together or if there will be new musicians in the band in the future. God knows. We have no musical barriers and we can play anything within reason, which is why I think our next album would be even better than “Close to the Edge”.
Anderson speaks as he thinks, so the dialogue takes on a very particular spontaneity in the way he expresses himself. The great hour has rebounded; fifteen thousand young people sharpen their ears for the super-show that in a moment the Crystal Palace will invade with musical grandeur. At the end of the interview, Jon tells us that when we arrive in Madrid we greet his brother. We wish him luck on this afternoon of total apotheosis. Great guy, this Jon Anderson.
VICENTE ROMERO special delivery
(Thanks to SANTIAGO ALVAREZ for their translation service)