And then Jon Anderson called

While I’m in a Saturday morning bloggiing mood and I’ve had a lot of coffee, I might as well tell you guys this important story too. I am and have always been a huge fan of the iconic progressive rock band, Yes. Around the time I was finishing up Alchemy, I came across a story in my newsfeed about Yes touring without Jon Anderson and continuing to call the band Yes and how Rick Wakeman was taking Jon’s side and I too felt almost personally slighted by the fact that they would dare call themselves Yes without Jon as the frontman. He was always the heart and soul of that band to me. I also started reflecting on what an influence Jon had been on my music and thought that he might just be weird enough to actually dig it. So I went to his website, clicked on the contact link and fired off an email to his webmaster asking for an address where I could send a CD. He sent me back a P.O. Box number, I mailed a CD and then forgot abouut the whole thing really.

Then one day I’m sitting on the couch watching a Giants game and my cell phone rings. If you’ve ever heard Jon Anderson sing or speak, you know he has this very high unmistakeable voice: “Rich, this is Jon Anderson”. I was 100% sure someone was pulling a prank on me. There was absolutely no way Jon Anderson just called me on my cell phone in the middle of a Giants game. I can’t tell you what happened for the next minute or so, because my mind went from being sure I was the victim of a prank to the realization that Jon Anderson had actually called me and was actually talking to me right now, so I better start fucking listening and talking back to him. I got so nervous I had to go into another room, close the door and sit down. “I really love your music, why don’t you send me something and if it feels right I sing and tht’s how it goes” or somthing along those lines. I suddenly realized he was asking me to collaborate with him and that my voice was practically shaking as I spoke, so I figured I needed to end this call as quickly as possible before he thought I was a complete basket case.

So I hung up the phone and told my wife the news. Over the coming weeks, I sent him some of my existing tracks that I felt were somewhat “Yes-like” in the hopes that he would become inspired and sing on one. I did this for a few weeks without anything but nice comments on my music. Finally I asked Jon what he was looking for and he said “earth rhythms”, so I wrote this simple track that came to be known as “Given Time”. I will never forget the first time he sent back this track with his vocals on top. All my childhood/Teen Progressive Rock memories came flashing back. It was Jon’s incredible unique voice singing over my music and he sounded better than ever!

We worked together for a while on a number of tracks, Jon loved everything we were doing but wasn’t quite sure what to do with the material, so it’s still hanging out there. Maybe someday something will come of it. I made a playlist of the tracks we did together on Soundcloud if you want to have a listen:

Atomic Skunk & Jon Anderson