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Turn of the Century

It’s not often that I’m inspired to write an article about a song. This particular song, however, is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard and it perfectly portrays, along with the lyrics, the emotions of the characters described within it. The song is “Turn of the Century” by the progressive rock band Yes and was first released on their 1977 album “Going for the One”.

The song, as my personal interpretation goes, describes an artist working at making a sculpture, apparently with his wife as the model. As he works on his masterpiece, she falls ill and eventually dies “in the still light of dawn”.

As the artist finishes grieving for his beloved wife, he sets back to work at finishing the sculpture of his wife, inspired by the memory of her. He becomes absorbed by the work of his hands and he wonders if she can still hear and see him. He longs to touch and hold her again. He dreams of the future when he can again be with her, remembering how things once were.

That may or may not be a proper interpretation of the lyric but it doesn’t really matter to me all that much. Anyway, besides the great love that the story describes between the artist and his wife, it reminds me of loved ones who’ve passed on from this life. Though we sorrow temporarily while we’re here on this earth, we don’t sorrow as those who have no hope. We sorrow temporarily, with the hope of seeing our loved ones when we pass from this life to eternity with a loving and gracious God and our savior, Jesus Christ.

Below, I’ve included a video for this beautiful song and the lyrics as well.

“Turn of the Century”


from “Going for the One (1977)

Realizing a form out of stone
Set hands moving
Roan shaped his heart
Through his working hands
Work to mold his passion into clay, like the sun

In his room, his lady
She would dance and sing so completely
So be still, he now cries
“I have time, oh let clay transform thee so”

In the deep cold of night
Winter calls, he cries “Don’t deny me!”
For his lady, deep her illness
Time has caught her
And will for all reasons take her

In the still light of dawn, she dies
Helpless hands soul revealing

Like leaves we touch, we learn
We once knew the story
As winter calls he will starve
All but to see the stone be life

Now Roan, no more tears
Set to work his strength
So transformed him
Realising a form out of stone, his work
So absorbed him
Could she hear him?
Could she see him?
All aglow was his room dazed in this light
He would touch her
He would hold her
Laughing as they danced
Highest colors touching others

Did her eyes at the turn of the century
Tell me plainly
When we meet, how we’ll love, oh let life so transform me

Like leaves we touched we danced
We once knew the story
As autumn called and we both
Remembered all those many years ago
I’m sure we know

Was the sign with a touch
As I kiss your fingers
We walk hands in the sun
Memories when we’re young
Love lingers so

Was it sun through the haze
That made all your looks
As warm as moonlight?
As a pearl deep in your eyes
Tears have flown away
All the same light

Did her eyes at the turn of the century
Tell me plainly
When we meet how we’ll look
As we smile time will leave me clearly

Like leaves we touch, we see
We will know the story
As autumn calls we’ll both remember
All those many years ago


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