photo by jonanderson.com
During a phone conversation, Jon Anderson sounds just the way one would expect: exuberant, gracious, eschewing the mundane…in short, he is consistent with the description given by former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman, “The only man we know of, who is trying to save this planet while living on an entirely different one.”
This makes asking even simple questions an adventure.
“What kind of tree would I be, and why? I would be a weeping willow because the branches look so beautiful as they caress the water of the river going by. And my favorite color? Turquoise. The blue is peaceful, serene…and fuschia because of the pink. That’s a nice color.”
Anderson is also an avid painter of flowers, when relaxing, as his color choices betray. “I just finished one yesterday, and I’ve kept it up all along.”
The last two years have been uncharted territory for him, following a life-threatening pulmonary illness which necessitated a hiatus from lead singing duties with the band he co-founded, Yes. The other members filled his position with Benoit David, from a Yes tribute band, and went out on tour, leaving Anderson to recoup and question their actions and loyalties.
Although not commenting publicly, he re-emerged in late 2009 with several intimate solo club performances. The noticeable loss of weight to a more youthful appearance than previous years, brought a new energy to the songs and storytelling.
He later reunited with Wakeman for a series of duet acoustic shows throughout the English countryside, playing at historic and limited seating gathering places.
In July 2010, Anderson played what turned out to be one of his favorite shows, a summer evening at the Milwaukee Zoo. “I loved that show and place. It was fun waving to the trains going by, and the people arriving, a real festival feeling. I have no choice over the venues, that’s done by the promoters and I don’t see them until I get there.
“They are more relaxed, less stressful, and more enjoyable for everyone,” he said. “Milwaukee was really a beautiful evening. People enjoy the musical adventure in the world of music. That led to the ‘Survival’ project, the new box set. I was working with people around the world through the internet, making music with people.” Survival and Other Stories is available through Anderson’s website (www.jonanderson.com).
Anderson’s 2011 solo tour brings him to the Viper Alley room (www.viper-alley.com) in Lincolnshire (IL) 8:15 p.m., Aug. 3, and to the famed Arcada Theatre (www.thearcada.com) in St. Charles (IL) 8:00p.m, Aug. 5 for a follow-up performance. When informed that the later venue is certified as “haunted,” his reply came quickly: “Really! I love that! We will definitely have a good time there!”
This fall, Anderson will again team with Wakeman for a short stateside tour, beginning in Milwaukee. “I’m not sure of the date in mid-October, or the place but I had such a good time in Milwaukee that it had to be on the list, and we start there. The problem with Rick is that he tells so many jokes and makes me laugh, it’s hard to do the show.”
Another surprise coming toward Christmas is a full-blown performance and re-visiting of his first solo piece, Olias of Sunhollow. “I was asked by an orchestral group in New York if I would sing it, since they worked up the arrangements. Sure, why not? I’m excited, I’m writing new songs and it’s in a different direction from the Yes songs. That can’t be helped, it’s in the DNA, you know.
The big question of will he ever re-join Yes brought a simple, adventurous answer, once again.
“Uh, you’ll be the very first person I call.” Consequently, don’t hold your breath, he’s having too much fun with his life.(3955) Page Views Jon Anderson Online:
• Website • Facebook • Wiki
CD: Survival & Other Stories Record Label: AMZV9
• Purchase Survival & Other Stories on Amazon