Back on January 4th, Ray Thomas, flautist, singer, songwriter, and founding member of The Moody Blues died. No cause of death was given, but he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013, so he was not in the best of health. We haven’t done a Music Monday for a while, so I thought it fitting to celebrate Thomas by featuring one of his songs. I’ve talked about The Moody Blues in a previous Music Monday, so if you need to learn more about them, you can look that up (or look them up on Wikipedia).
The Moodies song I’m featuring, “Dear Diary,” was written by Ray Thomas, and featured on their 1969 album, “On the Threshold of a Dream”–one of the “core seven” Moodies albums (see the aforementioned article). Since my Dad was a big fan of the band, I was aware of the song, and had even figured it out at one point during my mad flurry of guitar/keyboard-learning in the mid-80s. While at Hull University, I was very involved in the Christian group there (known as the Christian Union, or CU–a name I didn’t like because it sounded too political, and we were not political in any way). For two years, I led the music, and had a good band (me on guitar, Andy on keyboards and sax, Ellen on drums, Trevor on trumpet, a couple of violins and flutes, and other instrumentalists when they were available).
Every year, usually in the Fall, the CU would plan a retreat. They would have teaching sessions, quiet times for reading and prayer, and some let-your-hair-down activities too. One of those was a “talent night,” where people would get up and perform songs, skits, poems, whatever for the rest of the group. Since I had my guitar, and we had the keyboard too, I decided to do a couple of songs. One song was Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes,” which I thought impressive since the album it’s from, “Storm Front,” had only just been released. Because we had a flautist in the band, I thought it would be neat to also do “Dear Diary.” I hastily scribbled out the flute solos on a piece of manuscript paper as a guide (after all, as I keep telling you, I’m not trained in music transcription), and thankfully Catherine was talented enough to be able to figure it out. We rehearsed in the afternoon, and performed it that night. I thought it all went rather well. Though for some reason I didn’t have a microphone for the first verse of “And So It Goes,” so the audience was treated to a piano solo for a few minutes. Oh well. 🙂
The song isn’t that hard to play, though there are some interesting features. First, note the chord progression near the end of the verse, where he (i.e., Ray Thomas) sings “Woke up too late, wasn’t where I should have been.” It starts with a Dm, then Dm with a C in the bass, to an E7 , to an A7. Not, perhaps, what you would expect. And I’m a sucker for unexpected chord progressions! Also of interest is the flute duet at the beginning. I’ve written it out for you here:
Not only is it in fourths, but look at the notes halfway through the third measure, the F and C. They are played over an A major chord, which contains an E and a C#. Listen to the track closely, and you can hear the dissonance. It’s actually quite effective, and gives the song a bit of an edgy feel.
Click HERE for the lead sheet (words and chords) as a pdf document. I haven’t included the flute solo, but I’ll be happy to transcribe it if you want. Just let me know in the comments. (It sounds good on an alto recorder too, btw.)
Finally, here’s the song: