The Hit Songs Deconstructed Wire

Penn's Pick: The Moody Blues Gypsy



Artist: The Moody Blues
Song/Album: Gypsy / To Our Children’s Children’s Children
Writer: Hayward
Year Released: 1969
Genre/Sub Genre: Rock, Pop, Art, Prog


Why it’s a “Penn’s Pick”:

In honor of the recent Moody Blues (almost) career spanning Timeless Flight retrospective, it seemed fitting to feature one of their key tracks as a Penn’s Pick.

For those of you not familiar with the Moody’s, they were, and are, an English Pop/Prog/Art/Rock band with roots dating back to the mid-1960’s. Their sound is characterized by ultra-infectious, memorable melodies, evocative vocals and music, and an adventurous spirit that provided their songs with heightened depth compared to many of their contemporaries.

Bottom line – this is a band that perfectly fused craft and the “human element” to conjure up songs that have stood the test of time. There is A LOT that today’s songwriters can learn from this band.

Today’s focus is on one of their lesser known tracks, but a gem nonetheless. The Rock-natured “Gypsy” was released in 1970 as part of their “To Our Children’s Chlidren’s Children” album and possesses all of the core qualities that the Moody’s are known for.

Key Compositional Facts:

  • Form: Intro – Verse 1 – Chorus 1 – Turnaround/Inst. Break (Intro Theme) – Verse 2 – Chorus 2 – Bridge – Turnaround/Inst. Break (Intro Theme) – Verse 3 – Chorus 3 – Intro Theme/Outro
  • Even though the intro is quite long by today’s standards (0:30 vs. today’s average which is right around 0:15), notice that it’s broken into 2 distinct 0:15 segments, each of which does a fantastic job of engaging the listener and establishing the vibe of the song.
  • Notice that the infectious, memorable intro makes a return appearance 3 additional times throughout the song, specifically after the chorus sections and the bridge.
  • The vocal melody in the verse sections of the song consist of short phrases sung in a repetitive manner. This heightens the “memorability factor” for the listener.
  • Notice what’s going on within the chorus. It consists of an ultra-infectious “ahh-ah, ah, ah ah…” vocal followed by 1 lyrical line. MANY of today’s Pop hits utilize “ahhs and ohhs” within their chorus sections and for good reason.
  • Notice that the bridge is comprised of infectious “ahh’s” as well.
  • The outro is 0:43 long and comprises a lengthy 20% of the song’s total composition. That’s not to say that it’s not well warranted, however!
  • The lyrics utilized copious amounts of imagery, action, emotion and detail that engross the listener on a deep level within the storyline.
  • The nature of Hayward’s vocals coupled with the backing music is exceptionally evocative.