Yes, “Open Your Eyes” from ‘Open Your Eyes’ (1997): YESterdays
So much of the Yes mythos revolves around ever-present internal conflict. The almost-overlapping releasing of 1997’s Keys to Ascension 2 and Open Your Eyes is a great example of squandered opportunity, management dysfunction and record-company indifference.
Ultimately, the studio recordings from both Keys albums were overlooked. The decision to release Open Your Eyes so soon after Keys 2 is also downright baffling.
Then there’s the title track to Open Your Eyes, which sounds nothing like the Billy Sherwood-produced studio songs on Keys 2. It’s not that the song isn’t great, but I’m sure it left many Yes fans scratching their heads.
Turns out, “Open Your Eyes” was completely composed by Chris Squire and Billy Sherwood, and was intended for one of the side groups (the Chris Squire Experiment of Conspiracy). Sherwood provides the majority of the multi-tracked rhythm and lead guitar. Steve Howe – who has not present for the basic tracking sessions – adds acoustic and steel parts throughout the song.
Sherwood’s production pushes Alan White’s drums and Chris Squire’s bass front and center. Additionally, the vocal interplay between Jon Anderson and Squire is magical.
You’ve got a great imagination
You carry on in the same old way
No lessons learned from yesterday
Talk of changes lost in pages of paperwork
I believe it …
How can we refuse to see
I’ve received it…
What could be our final destiny
I believe that …
Still we go on from day to day
Knowing what could be true
Wish I knew
Wish I knew
Wish I knew
Sherwood has knack for melding traditional Yes elements with a contemporary sound. Also contributing to the modern feel is Toto’s Steve Porcaro on keyboards. Porcaro never goes the obvious or cliché and on “Open Your Eyes” his parts are fresh and tasty. Billy Sherwood’s vocal arrangements are equally up to the challenge. The Yes choir has never sounded as strong; the addition of the counter melody is as welcome as the powerfully direct rhythm section. Only Howe’s steel guitar solo after the first bridge seems tacked on. His middle electric solo works much better.
“Open Your Eyes” served as the first single from the album, and reached No. 33 on the mainstream rock charts. Still, any hopes for another “Owner of the Lonely Heart”-type hit were, quite frankly, ridiculous. Yes’ days on the singles charts were long over. Instead, the band should be applauded for continuing to progress. Sometimes, Yes failed. But “Open Your Eyes” was a moment when their efforts moved the band forward.