"Nights in White Satin": the story of the epic hit by Moody Blues

“It's curious, because when I listen to the record, there's only this big empty space and that wonderful echo that we heard in the Decca studios. But there is a strange power in the song. It gave us a style that suddenly seemed to work for us. I think that defined the Moody Blues sound...”

How did the most legendary Moody Blues song come about? History of the hit «Nights in White Satin»

"Nights in White Satin" - famous song moody blueswritten by the guitarist and lead singer of the band hayward. Breaking through UK top 20, over time, the composition became a big hit! In particular, this happened after the re-release at the beginning 1970's: as a result, the single received a gold certification for 100,000 copies in the territory USA! The popularity of the track has also returned in our time, in 2010 year, when "Nights in White Satin" re-entered the UK Singles Chart. During its existence, the composition has served as an inspiration for many famous artists and composers, such as Giorgio Moroder, Elkie Brooks, Sandra… Let's remember the history of its creation below!

Where did it all begin? History, background

moody blues
moody blues

Wrote this song Justin Hayward, who joined the group a year earlier after Denny Lane left the squad. The idea for the song came to him after a friend gave him a set of white satin sheets! As it is not difficult to guess, inspiration has visited Hayward right in bed! Actually, his word:

“I wrote our most famous song “Nights in White Satin” when I was 19 years old. It was an attack of random thoughts, and yes, this song was quite autobiographical. It was a very emotional time for me, because I just finished one big romance and started a new one ... A lot of this was reflected in the lyrics ... "

moody blues
moody blues

And indeed: many even gave the song an unofficial title "a tale of unrequited love experienced by Justin". The author himself continues:

“This is a very personal song: every note, every word in it meant something to me…”

Before joining moody blues, young Hayward signed a contract with a publishing company Lonnie Donegan, resulting in Donegan receiving the lion's share of the royalties for this and other songs written by Hayward at the time. Donegan was a star 50s and became famous for his skiffle sound, which influenced The Beatles and The Who. IN 60s he became more involved in the business side of the industry and founded his own publishing company Tyler Music. There is also an opinion that "Nights in White Satin" was Hayward's response composition to the song "Dawn Is A Feeling", which was written Mike Pinder: allegedly since Pinder wrote about "Morning", Hayward tried to write about "Night". And he clearly succeeded!

“The only people who wrote to the Moodies back then were Mike Pinder and myself. He was working on a song called "Dawn Is A Feeling" and I knew the other guys were expecting something from me at rehearsal the next day..."

Recording and release

Today "Nights in White Satin" so classic that it's strange to talk about the slow, almost discontinuous development of this epic ballad when it was first released... But when the next day Hayward started rehearsing for this song, his bandmates didn't seem to be thrilled... At least not from the beginning.

“I showed it to the other guys and they were a little puzzled…” Hayward recalls. "Then Mike said, 'Play it again.' So, I played the first line, and he completed it with playing the Mellotron, and this phrase began to interest everyone. Suddenly, others saw what role they could play in this song…”

moody blues
moody blues

With extra attractive keyboards Mike Pinder on the mellotron, as well as a hypnotizing flute Ray Thomas Both the single and the album began to capture the imagination of both the public and the media. By the way: Mellotron, with which the "orchestral" motifs in the main part of the track were created, subsequently determined the "signature sound moody blues". In fact, exactly "Nights in White Satin" gave the band a new sound ... When the Blues first formed, they were more like a blues group, and in 1965 year they had one big hit - a cover of the song Bessie Banks "Go Now". With the release of the album, they distinguished themselves with original compositions with a more psychedelic/orchestral sound.

First released in November 1967 of the year, "Nights in White Satin" was a masterpiece fusing pop music and symphonic prog with lyrics taken directly from Hayward's personal life. The track became the centerpiece of the band's second album! The album is credited to the London Festival Orchestra, but Hayward emphasizes that it was a fictitious guise of Decca's trusted in-house musicians:

“Festival Orchestra — we came up with the name! Peter Knight quickly assembled a group of session musicians. The only time the orchestra actually plays in Days Of Future Passed is halfway through the last verse of "Nights in White Satin". And even then it's just little diamonds - "plink, plonk, plink, plonk." Otherwise, everything orchestral that you hear on our records is a Mellotron!”


moody blues
moody blues

As a result "Nights in White Satin" became a big hit! The single has sold millions worldwide, has appeared on movie soundtracks and inspired over 60 cover songs… There was even a theme park ride in South Carolina named after him! However, half a century after the recording Hayward still trying to explain the enduring appeal of the most famous Moody Blues song:

“It's curious, because when I listen to the record, there's only this big empty space and that wonderful echo that we heard in the Decca studios. But there is a strange power in the song. It gave us a style that suddenly seemed to work for us. I think that defined the Moody Blues sound…”

And while it may not have been the huge success that the label had hoped for, it was the biggest success yet. Moodies since they took first place with a cover "Go Now" almost three years earlier. Significantly, it also marked the group's transition from R&B at the turn of the time when psychedelia was breaking up into exciting new directions...

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