The Moody Blues

Legend of a Mind

Song Review by

Other than "Ride My See-Saw," the six-and-a-half-minute opus "Legend of a Mind" is probably the most well-remembered cut off the Moody Blues' In Search of the Lost Chord album. Plenty of casual listeners probably still think the name of the song is "Timothy Leary" or "Timothy Leary's Dead," as those phrases are constantly repeated throughout the verses and the chorus, but the words "Legend of a Mind" are actually never spoken. The song begins as a typically Moody Blues folk-pop/rock tune with a bittersweet edge, but not too bitter. And, again in common with quite a few other Moody Blues songs, the tempo picks up and the song rocks harder as it swoops into the latter parts of the verses and the chorus, with some overriding mellotron lines carrying a counterpoint melody. The rhythm stutters a bit as they get to the title phrase, and then a brief turnaround sounds almost like a bagpipe trill before leading back into the verse. The band members go into almost a double-time of sorts on a brief section in which they bouncily extol Leary's virtues. This leads into what's perhaps the weakest part of the song, a long instrumental break in which the song slows down and stumbles along as flutes and mellotron duel with each other. The pace gradually picks up and the melodic and orchestral scope get grander, setting the stage for a more exultantly sung and speedier section in which Leary's astral powers are hailed in yet more fervent terms (for a few bars, in fact, piano chords pound out a repetitive riff). The song attractively changes keys at times during the final vocalizations of Leary's name, leading into a long instrumental psychedelic fadeout that stops with the downward buzz of an airplane (or a something that sounds much like an aircraft). The lyrics about Leary's powers are sung so straight-facedly one's almost tempted to think they might be subtly tongue-in-cheek, but most likely they were earnest. "Legend of a Mind" has attracted its share of detractors that find the lyric, and the by-association uncritical oh-wow praise of the psychedelic experience, naive and pompous. But, again like much of the Moodies' early work, it does have a good melody and a well-thought-out arrangement.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
In Search of the Lost Chord 1968 Polydor 6:36
To Our Children's Children's Children 1969 Polydor 0:00
No Image 1969 Threshold
This Is the Moody Blues 1974 Polydor 6:35
Collection [Castle] 1986 Castle Music Ltd. 0:00
Time Traveller 1994 Motown / Polydor 6:39
Supernatural Fairy Tales: The Progressive Rock Era 1996
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Bros.
Anthology: The Moody Blues 1998 Polygram 6:37
Legend of a Mind: The Underground Anthology 2003
Various Artists
Decca 6:37
Gold 2005 Polydor 6:38
Chronicles 2005 Polydor 6:36
Nights in White Satin 2007 Spectrum Records / Universal 6:37
Collected 2007 Collected 6:37
Playlist Plus 2008 Polydor
Timeless Flight: The Voyage Continues 2013 Universal / Universal Music 9:04
The Polydor Years: 1986-1992 2014 Polydor / Universal 9:23
Nights in White Satin: Essential Moody Blues 2017 Spectrum Music 6:36
Legend of a Mind Universal 6:40