(1972), Yes' aspiration reached new heights. Consisting of three extended cuts: the title piece on side one, Close to the Edge , is close to nineteen minutes, while the two cuts on side two, "And You and I" and "Siberian Khatru," are each about ten minutes long. In 1972, rock music pieces of this length were still rare, even in progressive rock, and releasing an album to three pieces of this duration was a major commercial risk. Nonetheless, in those years there was a significant market for sophisticated rock music and the album quickly went gold. The Close to the Edge LP is considered by a large body of critics and fans as the best album of the band's output, and the title piece is one of the supreme examples of the progressive rock style.
At around the time of the composing of Close to the Edge Jon Anderson had taken a passionate interest Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha , a literary novel which traces an individual's evolution from ghastly materialism to spiritual awareness, largely in an Eastern / Buddhist context. According to Edward Macan, author of the book Rocking the Classics , the concept of Close to the Edge is about that most prototypical of countercultural subjects, the spiritual quest: “ Siddhartha , of course, was one of the cornerstones of countercultural spiritual thought. While I do not find any direct quotation of Siddhartha in Close to the Edge , the general framework in which Anderson and Howe present spiritual "progress" in the lyrics is certainly similar. In short, I see Close to the Edge as one of the major "spiritual quest" epics to come out of the countercultural scene during the late 1960s and early 1970s-perhaps the most richly developed of all. The four movements of Close to the Edge appear to express distinct stages of the spiritual quest. I would graph the four stages as follows: Movement I, "The Sold Time of Change": The Call Movement 2, "Total Mass Retain": Adversity and Triumph Movement 3, "I Get up, I Get down": Self-Examination and Assimilation Movement 4, "Seasons of Man": Attainment It is possible, of course, to see this general pattern played out in other concept albums of this period: one thinks, for instance, of any of a number of Moody Blues albums. However, I am convinced that the Spiritual Quest motif had never before been this richly developed in popular music-and perhaps has never been so richly developed again. In this sense, I suppose, Close to the Edge might be said to represent contemporary popular music's answer to Wagner's Parsifal .” From Rocking the Classics by Edward Macan. According to drummer Bill Bruford the album titles for both Fragile and Close to the Edge were suggested by him: “I had proposed the groups fourth album be called Fragile because I thought we were breakable, and the band art director, Roger Dean, brilliantly parlayed the idea up to the prescient image of the fragile planet earth with implications of a delicate and breakable eco-system. I had suggested the fifth album be called Close to the Edge because I continued to feel we were on the verge of implosion.”
- Fall '11
- Siddhartha, Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, Syd Barrett