10 Best Moody Blues Songs

Birmingham band The Moody Blues have one of the most misleading names in popular music. It fit to start with – their early repertoire was based on American blues, and their cover of Bessie Banks’ ‘Go Now’ topped the UK charts in early 1965. They played on the Ed Sullivan Show and toured with The Beatles, but broke up in 1966 after diminishing returns.

That’s where the “Blues” comes from, and the “Moody” comes from an old song, “Mood Indigo.” We wanted anything with the initials “M.B.” because that was the name of a local brewery we were trying to hit up for some cash. It didn’t work.

Mike Pinder, Los Angeles Times, 1997

The Moody Blues reformed a month later but without original front-man Denny Laine, who’d later resurface in Wings with Paul McCartney. Instead, drummer Graeme Edge, flautist Ray Thomas, and keyboardist Mike Pinder were joined by new recruits Justin Hayward and John Lodge, who steered the group toward a new sound. Mike Pinder had obtained a state of the art Mellotron keyboard which enabled the band to recreate orchestral textures without an orchestra.

I was working for the company that made them–it was only two miles from my house in Birmingham. I read a job ad for someone with electronics and musical experience. I got to be the guy at the end of the line that checked them out. For me, it was like Indiana Jones finding the Holy Grail.

Mike Pinder, Los Angeles Times, 1997

The classic lineup enjoyed prolonged success between 1967 and 1972, with a series of high-charting albums known by fans as the Core Seven. Most of the below cuts are taken from that era. Apologies to ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ and ‘New Horizons’, both cut from the list late in the process, as well as the group’s only UK #1 ‘Go Now’.

10 Best Moody Blues Songs

#10 – Candle of Life

from To Our Children’s Children’s Children, 1969, written by John Lodge
For my money, 1969’s To Our Children’s Children’s Children is the group’s most consistent album. The group shine with the detailed and pretty arrangements and all of the writers provide top-tier material – there wasn’t room for Pinder’s ‘Out and In’ or Hayward’s ‘I Never Thought I’d Live To Be A Hundred’. ‘Candle of Life’ was never a single, but it was a b-side of the 1970 single ‘Question’. It’s also part of a great sequence of songs that opens side two – ‘Gypsy (Of a Strange and Distant Time)’, ‘Eternity Road’, and ‘Candle of Life’.

#9 – Your Wildest Dreams

from The Other Side of Life, 1986, written by Justin Hayward
A lot of legacy rock acts from the 1960s and 1970s struggled to adapt to the new technologies of the 1980s. The Moody Blues, however, adapted well with hits like ‘Gemini Dream’ and ‘The Voice’ from 1981’s US #1 album Long Distance Voyager. My favourite Moody Blues’ 1980s hit comes from later in the decade. ‘Your Wildest Dreams’ has a 1980s sheen, but there’s a great song underneath with strong harmonies and a gorgeous lead vocal from Hayward. ‘Your Wildest Dreams’ was the group’s biggest hit in the US since the re-release of ‘Nights in White Satin’ in 1972.

Most of “Wildest Dreams” – 90% of it – is Tony Visconti, my DX7, and a guitar synth. The piece at the beginning of “Wildest Dreams” that sounds like a sort of Theremin … that’s a guitar synth. All of that is. So it was just another way of exploring musical avenues. Tony Visconti was very much into that and the first person who really turned the band on to programming in a serious way. And he was very, very good at it, so I enjoyed every moment of that.

Justin Hayward, interview on Songfacts

#8 – Have You Heard (Part 1)/The Voyage/Have You Heard (Part 2)

from On The Threshold of a Dream, 1969, written by Mike Pinder
1969’s A Threshold of a Dream closes with a suite of three Mike Pinder songs – the instrumental ‘The Voyage’ is framed by two brief songs entitled ‘Have Your Heard?’. Pinder’s vocals sound great when he hits the questioning high notes, while his Mellotron orchestrations, a key part of the group’s sound, are central here. The three-track suite is preserved on the popular 1974 compilation This Is The Moody Blues, so it makes sense to include it as one track here.

#7 – Watching And Waiting

from To Our Children’s Children’s Children, 1969, written by Justin Hayward and Ray Thomas
‘Watching and Waiting’ was the closing track on To Our Children’s Children’s Children. It recalls the lush and romantic sweep of ‘Nights in White Satin’, although it wasn’t a successful single. It’s an excellent song, but perhaps out of step in 1969 as music moved towards tougher and more rootsy sounds like Led Zeppelin and The Band.

I think To Our Children’s Children’s Children [1969] is the one Moodies album that didn’t come across on the radio. It didn’t jump; it was soft, it was quiet. 


#6 – Question

from A Question of Balance, 1970, written by Justin Hayward
To Our Children’s Children Children is my favourite Moody Blues’ album, but it also feels out of step for 1969 – its lush orchestration would have fitted better earlier in the decade. The band stripped down their sound for their next record, A Question of Balance, making music that was easier to recreate live. The frantic acoustic strum, coupled with the topical lyrics, are more in tune with the times – it’s not surprising that it’s the group’s second-highest charting single in the UK, reaching #2. The pretty middle section, where the Mellotron and harmonies take over, is pure Moody Blues.

#5 – Eternity Road

from To Our Children’s Children’s Children, 1969, written by Ray Thomas
‘Eternity Road’ is the third pick from the second side of To Our Children’s Children’s Children on this list and not the last. It features great playing from Hayward – the spidery rhythm guitar parts work well against Thomas’ portentous vocals and the Mellotron. Thomas took the opening line from an incident in his childhood.

I was born in 1941 and during the war I was taken down the air raid shelter. There was our family and two other families who were our neighbours. Sometimes the Luftwaffe were all over us before even the sirens came off. Every night my grandmother would go “Hark” and her friend Mrs Ackland, next-door, would go “Listen”. Mrs James lived on the other side would then go “Here he comes.” So they became known as “Hark”, “Listen” and “Here he comes.” So that stuck in my head so that’s how I started “Eternity Road”.


#4 – I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)

from Seventh Sojourn, 1972, written by John Lodge
The final album of the Core Seven provided bassist John Lodge with the chance to shine. He wrote both of the album’s singles, and it’s his nimble bass that’s at the centre of ‘I’m Just A Singer’. The song was an attempt to deflate the mysticism around the band, Lodge’s statement that he wasn’t any kind of guru. Along with the next track on the list, ‘I’m Just A Singer’ has a tougher sound and faster tempo than most of The Moody Blues’ output.

#3 – The Story In Your Eyes

from Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, 1971, written by Justin Hayward
Every Good Boy Deserve is my least favourite album from The Moody Blues’ prime – it feels a little flat like the group was running out of gas after a triumphant series of records. But Hayward’s ‘The Story In Your Eyes’ is a terrific lead-off track – it emphasises the rock aspects of the band with Lodge’s busy bass part underpinning multiple guitar parts from Hayward.

#2 – Nights in White Satin

from Days of Future Passed, 1967, written by Justin Hayward
‘Nights in White Satin’ was an ideal release to introduce the new lineup of The Moody Blues. Like Procol Harum’s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’, it was a grand psychedelic single with classical tinges. Hayward wrote the song at the age of 19, about a girlfriend’s gift of satin sheets. The orchestration is a mixture of the London Festival Orchestra and Mike Pinder’s mellotron. ‘Nights in White Satin’ wasn’t a big hit originally – it just scraped into the UK top twenty, and didn’t make the US top 100. But it paved the way for a commercially successful run of albums – after Days of Future Passed, the next six Moody Blues albums all charted in the UK top 5.

#1 – Gypsy (Of A Strange and Distant Time)

from To Our Children’s Children’s Children, 1969, written by Justin Hayward
‘Gypsy’ was never a single but it became a live staple and fan favourite. It was probably a missed opportunity not to release it to radio because it showcases the classic lineup’s strengths. It’s both pretty and rocking – a great guitar riff and some excellent harmonies.

I wrote a Moody Blues Core Seven album ranking a couple of days before Ray Thomas passed. It makes sense to mark Graeme Edge’s passing with a song ranking. Let me know if I missed your favourite Moody Blues songs.

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Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande. Aphoristic Album Reviews features reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.


  1. Exactly half of yours are the same as mine.

    1. Nights in White Satin
    2. Isn’t Life Strange
    3, Go Now
    4. Ride My See Saw
    5. Story in Your Eyes
    6. Lovely to See You
    7. Tuesday Afternoon
    8. I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)
    9. Have You Heard
    10. Watching and Waiting

    I really wanted to include all these ones too, but I couldn’t fit them. They’re all just as good as the other ones though.

    The Voice
    Voices in the Sky
    Candle of Life
    The Actor
    For My Lady

    • You have a bunch of Lodge songs on your list – I can’t remember how ‘Isn’t Life Strange’ goes as well as the others. I don’t own a physical copy of Seventh Sojourn so haven’t listened to it as much as the others. You and Max both had Ride My See Saw.

      • I’m really surprised that you don’t know Isn’t Life Strange, cuz I would have thought that it’s their second most well-known song. It’s a little bit like Nights in White Satin, except with lots of awesome electric guitar. Along with Lovely to See You, it has the best guitar of any Moody Blues record.

        • I’ve reviewed Seventh Sojourn so I must have listened to it a bunch of times, just didn’t stick in my head. Never heard any Moody Blues songs on the radio, apart from Satin and Wildest Dreams.

  2. I’m happy you included Your Wildest Dreams… Good list…we have quite a few in common. I had all of their albums up to Long Distance Voyager…I need to listen to them again…it’s been a while.

    1. Story In Your Eyes
    2. Question
    3. Your Wildest Dreams
    4. Ride My See-Saw (the guitar I never get tired of)
    5. I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)
    6. Go Now
    7. The Voice
    8. What Am I Doing Here?
    9.One More Time To Live
    10. Gemini Dream

    • I struggle a bit with In Search of the Lost Chord – you and kingclover both had Ride My See-Saw, but I struggle with the psychedelic sound on that one. You have a reasonable clutch of stuff through the 1980s on yours.

      • Long Distance Voyager was their rebirth to me. I knew about them but that got me into them more. I did leave the sequel of Your Wildest Dreams Off…I Know You are Out There Somewhere but it is a good pop song.
        What I left off is kinda unforgivable…. Days of Future Passed…I know those songs are very important but I’ve just heard them too many times. They would make a top 15.

        In Search of the Lost Chord was one of the first albums I bought of them.

        • I think To Our Children’s Children’s Children is their best record. I think Days of Future Passed gets a little overrated because it was the breakthrough and has the big signature hit. In Search was my first Moody Blues album – almost didn’t give them a second try.

  3. My favorite MB album is In Search of the Lost Chord probably for the same reason you dislike it (the psychedelic, Eastern sound). “Ride My Seesaw” might be my favorite song of theirs, although there are many Hayward songs up at the top (“It’s Up to You” is one in particular). My brother and I joke that the band name should be The Justin Hayward Group!

    • For the record, I don’t hate Eastern/psychedelic sound – I just don’t think it works for the Moody Blues. My list is more than half Hayward tunes (just – 5.5) – although they did very well to get a cohesive sound with four different songwriters, as well as Edge’s poems.

  4. A pretty good list Graham. I’m glad to see “Candle of Life” here. I bought the 45 single “Question”, and also loved the B-side “Candle of Life”. Here are my Top 10:

    1. Nights in White Satin (one of my 10 all-time favorite songs)
    2. The Story in Your Eyes
    3. Watching and Waiting
    4. Tuesday Afternoon
    5. Question
    6. Go Now
    7. The Voice
    8. Candle of Life
    9. I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)
    10. Ride My See-Saw

    • Thanks for supplying your list. Candle of Life is really good – I love that whole To Our Children’s Children’s Children album. Obviously as it takes up almost half my list. I remember you writing about Nights in White Satin recently.

  5. I have a Hits set here and it only has 5 of the songs you listed: Your Wildest Dreams, The Story In Your Eyes, Nights In White Satin, I’m Just A Singer…, Question. I think that’s testimony to the strength of the band that there can be so many other great ones, in your list and on this Hits set besides!

  6. A huge Moodies fan, This is my first attempt at a Top 10 – I was surprised.

    10. Sooner or later (Strange Times – GREAT album). Great fun. John, Justin and Ray harmonizing and sharing lead. Justin and John

    9, Breaking Point (Sur La Mar, under appreciated album). Feels a lot like core seven stuff. Definitely like Blue Jays. Dark for the Moodies. John and Justin

    8. Out and In (Children) – that Mellotron…. (And guitar). Mike/John

    7. Are You Sitting Comfortably/The Dream/Have you Heard/The Voyage/Have You Heard (pt 2). (On the Threshold of a Dream)
    I know this is cheating, but I can’t bust this into pieces any more than I can side 2 of Abby Road

    6. And The Tide Rushes In (Question of Balance). Beautiful. Ray

    5. Nothing Changes (Strange Times)? Love this. Justin’s guitars! This is haunting. Graeme

    4. The Swallow (Strange Times) can anything top Justin’s New Horizons? Photo finish The Swallow is my fav. LOVE the guitars. Justin

    3. The Story In Your Eyes (EGBDF). Great guitar, piano, best rock. Justin

    2. The Day We Meet Again – (Octave) greatly under appreciated song on an under appreciated album. The last time we’d hear the guitar and mellotron together. Justin

    1. The Night – Nights in White Satin and Late Lament (Days of Future Past). Holy smokes this is beautiful…. Justin and Graeme

    Can’t believe the amount of great music I had to leave off, including the entirety of seventh sojourn, the best album ever IMHO. And three songs from Strange Times? I’ve played this album more than any other over the past year.

    • That’s an interesting top 10 – I’ve never gone as far into their discography as Strange Times.

      Your Threshold suite is even bigger than mine. Out And In is a good one I couldn’t fit in.

      • would love to read your thoughts on Strange Times, should you get the opportunity to listen a couple times. December was their last studio albums, but a lot of covers. Strange Times was truly their last creative work and it is a really excellent conclusion (hampered, unfortunately, by a couple flat songs from John – especially Words You Say).

    • You know what’s weird? I never thought of their name as referring to blues music. For some reason I always just thought of the color blue. But now it all makes perfect sense to me.

      • There’s a comment on the site somewhere about the MB from an ill-informed blogger who clearly hasn’t heard the band saying how the blues are great. It’s good they had the word Moody in there, otherwise the name wouldn’t fit their post Denny Laine stuff.

        • Plus, there’s a late Elvis Presley hit called Moody Blue, and that could be why I always just thought of the color blue rather than blues music.

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